I liked Amnesty International so much I bought the T-shirt. Their particular strengths, I always thought, were that they focused on rights that could be properly described as 'human' and not social and economic - and also their willingness to criticise governments consistently, whether democracies or not.
Since 2005, Amnesty has been having a 'rethink' - which seems to entail a broadening of Amnesty's concerns to include so-called 'soft' social and economic rights - such as access to medical treatment, housing and so forth.
This re-working of their position has included a shift towards a more politicized position - seen, for example, in their position regarding Guantanamo Bay.
While I thought Amnesty's description of Gitmo as the 'gulag of our time' was completely absurd, this in itself didn't cause me to reconsider my membership because exaggeration notwithstanding, Amnesty's position in relation to Guantanamo is the correct one.
But not so with the general shift in their position. My own view is that while 'social' rights such as access to housing and medical treatment are highly desirable, you simply cannot say these are rights that one has purely by virtue of one's humanity because social rights of these kind presuppose the existence of a certain kind of society.
The shift towards an advocacy of these types of 'human rights' pushes Amnesty into the fold of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the framers of which somehow managed to convince themselves that a nomadic tribesman had the right to join a trade union and have paid leave of absence from work.
I believe this to be a ridiculous position - an inflation of the concept of human rights that damages the principle. Amnesty's controversial adoption of the right to an abortion under the banner of human rights is an example of this. Abortion is not a human but a civil right, since it requires the existence of medical personnel able and willing to carry out such a procedure. Indeed, abortion on demand would presuppose an obligation by such medical personnel.
And there's a more melancholy reason for wondering where Amnesty are going with all this. 'Human rights' are being inflated beyond the point where even 'rights-based' people might reasonably be expected to agree. As for myself, I'm being asked to accept that economic, social, and civil rights have miraculously become 'human'. This, a position I find difficult to accept at the best of times, becomes impossible when it also requires me to believe that the ever-expanding scope of 'human rights' does not apply to the unborn child. According to Amnesty, these have no rights - not even the right to life. The only conclusion one can draw is that Amnesty International's official position now is that the unborn child is not human. It is for this reason I'm having a 'rethink' of my own.
- ► 2014 (20)
- ► 2013 (22)
- ► 2012 (41)
- ► 2011 (74)
- ► 2010 (112)
- ► 2009 (117)
- ► 2008 (149)
- ► 2007 (212)
- Thought for today
- Ask not for whom the bell tolls
- 4 out of 10 doctors
- Theories of history
- Teachers think size matters
- Sing if you're glad to be (born) gay?
- The town that said no to Tesco
- More from the Department for the Bleeding Obvious
- On matters of life and death
- People losing their damn minds #17
- Workplace annoyances
- The Great Divide: initial impressions
- Brown goes nuclear
- Progress and orange people
- Policeman employers
- Free thinking and slavery
- US Democrats: the state they're in
- Sakchai Makao
- Fighting Iraq’s new Taliban
- British soldiers claim Taliban used children as sh...
- Labour slides to 20-year poll low
- The devolution dynamic
- U-turn on Glasgow pub glass ban
- Smoking ban update
- Chastity rings banned
- Probation plan for poor teachers
- On prejudice (briefly): rationality and religion
- Totalitarianism and the annihilation of the presen...
- Livingstone in talking (some) sense shock
- Pootergeek's educational services
- Young keen teachers
- Glasgow City Council to be bankrupted
- Terrorists in crisis, says Zarqawi document
- Contortions and translations
- Most leading journalists went to private schools
- People losing their damn minds #16
- Heart of Midlothian
- World Cup dilemma
- Schools too damn girly
- Lloyds launches Islamic portfolio
- Scots invented beautiful game
- A vice I'm truly ashamed of
- Women's Rights Activists Beaten in Tehran
- World cup recantation
- Ethical shopping?
- Firm cancels Scots event after World Cup snub to E...
- "Don't moan, take action, it's your street too"
- Defeat and disgust
- Football hooligans
- The glory of summer
- Amnesty and "full spectrum rights"
- Biggest US counterterrorism success since 9/11?
- Minister's wife takes over Ofsted
- MSP milks the system
- The death of Zarqawi: celebrating too soon?
- Religion, theocracy and the left
- Zarqawi killed in Iraq air raid
- Livingstone: London 'subsidising Scots lifestyle'
- Pupils spurn healthier school meals
- A short note on tolerance
- It's hot!
- Muslims seek safe haven in Israel
- Liberal airhead
- Lost in Ikea
- Scotland's crime capital
- Charles accused of wasting police time
- Blairites for Dave?
- On insincerity and other duties
- Swapping fishing for blogging?
- Anecodotes from the trenches
- ▼ June (71)
- ► 2005 (279)
British and Scottish Social
Elections and Voters
- A Cloud in Trousers
- Bad Conscience
- Butterflies and Wheels
- Chase me ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
- Christopher Hitchens
- Dave Hill
- Dave Osler
- Excuse me while I step outside
- Fat Man on a Keyboard
- Flying Rodent
- George Szirtes
- Labour and Capital
- Martin in the margins
- Mick Hartley
- Never Trust a Hippy
- Nick Cohen
- Obcene Desserts
- Olly's Onions
- Pickled Politics
- Rosie Bell
- Rullsenberg Rules
- Shiraz Socialist
- Simply Jews
- Slugger O'Toole
- Stumbling and Mumbling
- The gaping silence
- We'll Get it Right Next Time
- Whitehall 1212
Blogroll with aloe vera
British and Scottish Political
- Amnesty International
- China links
- China Support Network
- CIA factbook
- Democracy Now
- Europa - EU Online
- Human Rights in China
- Human Rights Watch
- International Labour Organization
- Labour Friends of Iraq
- South Africa links
- Statistical Abstract of the US
- Tibet Administration in Exile
- US Elections Stats
- Whitehouse Homepage