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Essay on Human Rights

Alexander, Klint. (2003). The implications of the “USA Patriot Act” and US counter- terrorism on international human rights law, Journal of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies. Amicus Curiae, 2003 (49)

With the patriot act as the foundation for his argument, Dr. Alexander Lint looks at different facets of human rights. Basing her arguments further on development studies, human rights, politics and even law subjects, Lint explores the general field of international law in regards to how it applies to human right to life. National as well as international security has been explored as one area where human rights are always under threat. The voice in this peer-review article is that of an authority figure considering that Alexander is a renowned lecturer and scholar. Dr. Lint has worked at the department of political science in Vanderbilt University and is hence highly experienced in the issues of international law and its applications.

Alexander provides various accounts including legislations to look at when focusing on abuse of human right to life. He says it is also important to note that in regards to ‘right to life’ there are several legislations that while protecting individual’s right to life, gives exceptions under which someone can lose the right to life. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ (ECHR) article number two holds that “Everyone rights to life shall be protected by law” (Brian 2002). This means that the article provision is not an absolute law in itself but a right that is subject to several other exceptions. If a person commits a capital offence and is sentenced to death, they definitely lose their right to life. The same article 2 holds that when it becomes necessary to deprive one of his/her right to life to protect another person from an eminent unlawful violence targeted at them, it is legal. This also applies when the deprivation to the right of life is executed to prevent a person from escaping lawful custody or even in some cases, preventing insurrections that are being mounted against lawful authorities in a state (Mark 2009). In the event that all these deprivations are done, in a manner that more than necessary force was used then the executed persons stand wronged (Jack 2003). This means that the law enforcement agencies and authorities like the police or the armed forces have a responsibility to prove that they did not use undue force in depriving persons of their right to life. It should be known that several countries across the world today have changed their minds against executing persons, even death raw convicts. It is nowadays common to find persons sentenced for life imprisonment instead of death even for capital offenders. This has been informed by the argument that death sentences are morally bad.

The right to life comes in several situations. It is for instance expected that if a person’s right to life is threatened by known persons or factors, the state have a responsibility through its law enforcement agencies to keep the individuals at risk in safety zones all the time. This is regardless of whether such dangers emanate from previous capital offences committed by the endangered persons. The other instance is where a patient seeks medical attention for life threatening condition. The medical personal have a professional responsibility to take care of emergencies and ensure that life is not lost. Finally, the right to life can also be invoked where a person who comes into the country illegally has to be deported (Brian 2002). The deporting state has a legal responsibility to ensure that the country they are deporting the person to do not pose any serious dangers to their lives.

The most common form of human right abuses that have been seen in the world today in regards to right to life are in the form of genocides that result from political instability and civil unrest. The International Criminal Court at the Hague have in the past sought to hold political leaders accountable for the mass murders that take place under their watch or as they try to put in place their dictatorial regimes(Brian 2002). The most notable ones include the Rwanda genocide, the mass murders in Liberia and Slovakia. In all these cases, the figures brought before the court for prosecution have been accused of executing people in great numbers for political expediency hence among other charges abusing their rights to life.

There are several generations of human rights as documented by human rights organizations such as the United Nations. The first generation rights include among others the right to life. The second generation includes among others the right to health. The third generation includes among others the right to clean water. Human rights in general provide a way in which societies and individuals all over the way shape their behavior towards others. Many countries all over the world use human rights to shape the constitutions and laws of the country.

Brasch, W. M. (2005) Americas’ unpatriotic acts: the federal government’s violation of constitutional and civil rights, New York: Peter Lang

This book by Brasch was adopted only 6 weeks after the September 11. It stands out as a piece on international human rights especially in the US but also highlights several issues of human rights abuses in other countries across the world. He has brought to the fore matters relating to the human rights abuses in terrorism, the detainees in Guantanamo Bay as well as other human rights to life violations executed in Afghanistan. Professor Brasch Walter has won several awards especially in his area of Journalism. He also has several experiences in the field of human rights and has authored several other books with similar story lines.

Brasch brings out the issue of war as perpetuated in America, as a significant are where the right to life is seriously violated. Self-defense has been associated with debates regarding the right to life. Self-defense occurs on the point of attack. During an attack, an individual may choose to defend himself or his property. This may lead to the death of the individual or the attacker. The death of the attacker occurs in light of self-defense. The attacked kills the attacker because of defending oneself. Ethical issues arise out of such killing in such a way that the life of the attacker is also considered sacred and could have been avoided. The life of the attacked is also sacred and many at times, his death occurs in the scuffle. The fact that both lives are sacred brings out a problem in deciding such cases. Whether any of those lives is more important, is of great concern. Such an issue could otherwise be solved using dialogue without involving violence. Since many attackers come in prepared for war, such issues arise and lead to death of one or both of the individuals.

War has also brought in an ethical dilemma. Countries go after one another every so often. Examples of major wars that have rocked the world include the world war one and two as well as the cold war. Countries have been taken to court in the present as well as the past over such decisions to attack other countries over security and such other issues they may consider appropriate. Wars usually have casualties in them. Many people killed in wars do not necessarily pose a threat to the security of countries. Wars have led to the death of many civilians. The decision to kill people brings out an ethical concern in that in the first place life is a basic human right. Killing people for whatever reason presents a defying of this immediate right to life. Superpower countries usually retaliate against security threats by going to war with other countries. This leads to the deaths of individuals hence contravening this right. The decision to let go of the desire to go to war is a tough one especially when the security of the country matters. Terror gangs kill people using such things as bombs and grenade attacks. Such killings include the organized terror attacks on the twin towers and abduction of personnel in high seas. Retaliating is a good thing since it would be protecting the country against future attacks. The only problem is that it would lead to the death of civilians in such countries involved. Brasch also looks at other perspectives including abortion as areas where basic human right to life has been sacrificed. The right to life is a paramount right. It implies that one has the right to live (Arthur 1955). It implies that the lives of human beings are sacred. The right to life phrase is a belief that all human beings are entitled to being alive. This concept has been associated with many debates on abortion, war, euthanasia, self-defense and capital punishment. The right to life is among other inalienable rights inherent to human beings. The other inalienable human rights include the right to liberty and happiness.

Several councils and conventions adopted this as a paramount right to humanity linking it to the fact that without life, there would be no one to whom these rights would apply. All other rights come after this. They come after human life. Laws in countries stipulate the importance of human life.

Ethical associations of this right are attributed to such aspects as euthanasia, capital punishment, lawful killing of persons, abortion and self-defense among others (Norman 1964). Abortion has been associated with pro life and pro-choice issues. Pro-life issues indicate the importance of the fetus in development of human beings. They are already human. They campaign for keeping of pregnancy to full term. Pro-choice campaigners believe that the right to choose whether to keep the baby or not lies entirely on the mother.

Abortion in many developing countries is illegal. Many developing countries on the other hand, have legalized abortion. Abortion covered under such topics as medical issues is acceptable to the society (Malcolm 1977). Mothers under the risk of dying together with their children covered under medical laws allow abortion. This protects the life of the mother. The question arises out of the need to keep the child, as well. Questions that arise include the need to maintain the pregnancy hoping that the child or the mother will not die in the process. Of contention also is the need to keep the child at the expense of the mother (John 2010). The paramount question lies in the importance of the mother over the life of the child. Such debates focus on the mother and the child in such a way that they try to distinguish which of the two lives is better than the other.

Pro choice campaigners believe that fetuses are not human beings until they are born. They do not share the same rights as a human being (Rita 1998). Pro choice campaigners thus believe that a mother does not harm the fetus when she expels it from her body. She is not defying any rule of law. Pro-life campaigners believe that conception brings about a human being. This means that during the fetal stage, it is human, and expelling it would be expelling it.

Lauren, P. G. (2011) The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania.

This book is widely acclaimed and the author, Lauren P.G., holds that the issue of human rights abuses throughout the world is not a new thing since it has continued to happen unabated for a long time. Lauren highlights several factors that led to the formation of UPR and HRC. He also looks at various materials that highlight the basis for the formation of the international criminal court and how it functions. Every scholar and learners with focus on international law and human rights would definitely find this reading a compelling piece. Lauren incorporates the works of various human rights figures, NGOs and even activists to reinforce her points and hence perfectly handles the issue of bias. Lauren gives her approach a global take. Finally, there is a general theme of discussions relating to “The Patriotic act” and how it influences human right to life among others.

Lauren is loud on how human right to life has been abused in all areas. He vividly gives an account of euthanasia and how it has violated patient’s right to life. Euthanasia refers to mercy killing. It is the killing of individuals that are already on the verge of death and have no chances of survival. An example of this is in hospital situations where patients are on life support machines (Seamus et al 2000). Parents and kin may decide to have the doctors pull the plug on the life of the patient. This brings criticism from doctors on the hope that the patient will live. This may also happen on the other way where doctors request the parents and kin to pull the pin on the life of their relative. This may be because the doctors find no hope in the recovery of the patient at all. This presents a problem for some people want this to happen, and the others are against it. This is also critical in the debate on human rights in that the right to life is essential to human life. Pulling out the machines on such an individual contravenes the very reason for protecting life. On the other hand, not pulling out the machines means that the family will suffer the consequences of high medical bills, family and social destruction. The patient will also continue suffering when in the medical equipment. The patient is on the brink of death. This also brings an issue of ethical dilemma where both allowing the death of the patient and not allowing it present two good and justifiable solutions to a problem. The right to life has been looked at from all corners one of which is the medical issue of euthanasia. There is a school of thought that has held that euthanasia, whether looked at from a religious standpoint, legally, morally and even philosophically, betrays the spirit and the letter of human right to life (Mark 2009). This has been centered on two forces pulling in different directions namely an individual’s right to choose to end his/her life with dignity and the other factor, which seeks to uphold the person’s right to life, which remains inherent under any circumstances. This debate has seen the introduction of various legislations like the ‘Rights of the terminally ill act 1995 (NT)” (Brian 2002). This act allowed the terminally ill to request the medical personnel to end their lives. This act did not work for long because after several reviews, the federal parliament amended several legislations that rendered it inoperative. According to the “Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (ICCPR) Article 6(1), “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life” (Jack 2003). It has however raised serious concerns about the scope and even the arbitrary ending of life.

Utilitarian ethicists like Peter Singer, a philosopher, have argued that the right to life goes beyond just being members of the human species. Peter holds that the right to life is grounded on one’s ability to anticipate and therefore plan the future. Article 3 of “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” holds that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (Jack, 2003).

Mathew, P. (2008) Implications of US PATRIOT Act on Human Rights: Analysis

Munich: GRIN Verlag.

The US “Patriotic Act’ is the center of discussion in this piece by Mathew Phillip. He holds that because of the highly unconsultative nature of the way the draft was brought to being, it has seriously influenced negatively on freedoms and violations of pertinent human rights of citizens. In the entire piece, the reader gets the impression that Phillip is the right person to talk about human right abuses because of the manner he articulates his ideas.

Mathew’s publication comes out as a strong voice against the hanging/murder of death raw convicts on grounds that it violates peoples’ right to life. Legal killing and capital punishment by hanging have been an issue for debate in many quotas (Austin 2002). Death has been the ultimate punishment for such mistakes as treason and killing of people. People stand trial and a jury decides punishment for such individuals. Many countries ascribe to the death penalty. Since time immemorial, many countries have used this method to discipline individuals. The question of whether to give the death penalty has been of concern. Everybody has a right to life. Giving such a punishment contravenes this rule. Not giving this ruling for individuals caught to have killed their fellow human beings brings in a problem as punishment is in an equal manner to his deeds. The question of who judges whom also is of concern. This presents an ethical dilemma to the world of human rights.


The issues outlined in the quest for the right to life such as abortion, euthanasia, legal killing and others present an ethical dilemma. An ethical dilemma refers to a situation where both options to solving a problem present solutions that are neither bad nor good. Both of them apply although they present certain inclinations that are undesirable. Such issues are hard to deal with. The right to life is paramount in that human beings have only one life to live. Campaigners for this right face problems when dealing with issues pertaining to ethical dilemmas.

The application of the right to life is in line with the historical basis, the philosophies surrounding it, the nature and features related to human rights and the implementation of these rights. The right to life organization based in Australia addresses such issues as euthanasia, abortion, adoption and others that relate to the right to life. The campaign it has done about helping individuals realize the importance of children to society and providing options such as adoption of children and counseling qualify it to receive funding.

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