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On the framing of human rights

Summary

Iain Benson clarifies the Christian influence on an important tradition.

Summary

Iain Benson clarifies the Christian influence on an important tradition.

Transcript

Any student of human rights or anyone who does any research on it in relation to religion, particularly Christianity, soon realises that the major proponents of human rights as it was developed and codified in the 20th century were themselves Christians. People like Jacques Maritain in France, Charles Malik in Lebanon – these people framed the United Nations Declarations on Human Rights, they were the key people that came up with provisions such as Article 18, which guarantees the right of religious liberty in our international documents. This comes out of a tradition in which respect for the person, and an understanding of a certain relationship between the person, the family, and the community – influenced extensively by Christianity – framed our developed understanding not only of human rights but of politics.