Do human rights have a future? A special report

Are human rights enough?

We tend to treat protecting the individual as distinct from ensuring collective welfare. It’s vital we find a way to do both, writes Samuel Moyn.

“Human rights emerged as the highest morality of an unequal world, under neoliberal circumstance that its partisans struggled to humanise, only to find themselves accused of complicity with it.”

“People cannot say they did not know what was happening”

JP O’Malley interviews Rania Abouzeid, who has spent 15 years reporting on the Middle East, and is the author of No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria.

“I would like to think that our reporting of human rights violations might somehow shame the powers that be into acting to stop those violations, but all the ink expended on the Syria story over the years seems to have done very little to lessen the ugliness of the conflict.”

Intolerable cruelty

Despite a chronic domestic violence problem, a new law has made punishing abusers even harder. Where does Russia go from here? Madeline Roache reports.

Sexist attitudes and gender stereotypes are entrenched in Russian society, where women often shrug off domestic abuse with the proverb “if he beats you, it means he loves you”.

“Who will have our backs now?”

In Pakistan, accusations of blasphemy can lead to death at the hands of the state – or the mob. Rahila Gupta reports on the few brave lawyers who are fighting back.

"A blasphemy law has no place in a modern democracy – and it was abolished in the UK only in 2008 – but in an “Islamic democracy” like Pakistan, it is a valuable blanket for smothering dissent."

The search for “British” rights

In attempting to dismantle human rights laws allegedly imposed by Brussels, we may find we need them more than ever, as Richard Scorer explains.

"Beyond a general sense that “human rights” and “Europe” are intertwined, and a hope among some supporters of Brexit that we might acquire a “British” Bill of Rights, which will assert and protect a distinctively British set of rights and freedoms that are different from European ones, the technicalities are not widely understood."

The Summer 2018 issue of New Humanist is on sale now! Subscribe here for just £27 a year.

Also in this issue:

  • Samira Ahmed on how elite networks shape our society
  • Why sci-fi and economics have more in common than you think, by Ha-Joon Chang
  • Peter Forbes on the stunning revelations of ancient DNA
  • Can an atheist find fulfilment in riding a motorbike, asks Josh Raymond
  • Huw Lemmey explains how Orwell gave propaganda a bad name
  • Richard Smyth on nationalism and the dark side of nature writing
  • Why has the wedding ring been such a persistent symbol of attachment? Sally Feldman explores
  • Marcus Chown on the mysteries of the neutrino
  • Columns from Michael Rosen and Laurie Taylor; the latest developments in biology, chemistry and physics; cartoon by Grizelda; book reviews; cryptic crossword and Chris Maslanka's quiz

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