In this set of three essays, originally presented as the 2005 Hamlyn Lectures, Conor Gearty considers whether human rights can survive the challenges of the war on terror, the revival of political religion, and the steady erosion of the world's natural resources. He also looks deeper than this to consider the fundamental question: How can we tell what human rights are? In his first essay, Gearty asks how the idea of human rights needs to be made to work in our age of relativism, uncertainty and anxiety. In the second, he assesses how the idea of human rights has coped with its incorporation in legal form in the UK Human Rights Act, arguing that the record is much better and more democratic than many human rights enthusiasts allow. In his final essay, Gearty confronts the challenges that may destroy the language of human rights for the generations that follow us.
• Explains the subject of human rights to a general academic audience, appealing to all disciplines and not restricting its reach to any specialisation in particular • Argues for an approach to human rights that fits well with, rather than is undermined by, our contemporary culture of doubt and uncertainty • Shows how human rights are an essential tool in keeping the nations of the world civilised in the face of huge pressure from proponents of the 'war on terror'
1. Introduction; 2. The crisis of authority; 3. The crisis of legalism; 4. The crisis of national security; 5. Can human rights survive?; Bibliography.
'… this book is an excellent starting point for moving on from the increasingly legal positivist emphasis on human rights, to examine why human rights must always triumph over threats and policies.' Human Rights Law Review
'… sheds much light on some of the most difficult questions of our time, and in a manner accessible to expert and casual readers alike. … provides a veritable cognitive feast. The Cambridge University Press has done an admirable job of turning the lively lecture into an attractive and readable volume.' Cian C. Murphy
' … highly recommended …' Choice
'It is the clarity and comprehensiveness of Gearty's argumentation, together with the controlled passion and graceful articulacy with which it is expressed, that commends this short book so highly to all of those interested in politics, law and human rights. Gearty does not promise answers in Can Human Rights Survive but in it he engages impressively thorough considerations of difficult but vital questions. The book is highly commended to both experts and casual readers in the field.' The Law and Politics Book Review
'… this volume represents perhaps Gearty's finest work.' International Journal of Law in Context