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Where do human rights come from?

Saturday, 20 April 2019 - 10:45am

Dafydd Mills Daniel appeared at the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival in March 2019, where he delivered The Essay, entitled: 'Where do human rights come from?'

Recorded live, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, in his Essay, Dafydd argues: 'not that human rights are nonsense, but that we frequently make a nonsense of them, because we do not think carefully about what human rights are, and where they come from'.

In order to think about where human rights come from, we must pay attention to the use of 'reason and conscience' in Article 1 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Reason and conscience, as used in the UN Declaration, reveal the Christian theology that underpins the modern conception of human rights.

By taking in UK obscenity law, Shakespeare's Richard III, and Pinocchio's Jiminy Cricket, Dafydd not only illustrates the theological background to human rights, but insists that 'human rights are less secular, and less liberal, than both critics and proponents have maintained'.

Human rights do not mean that we have 'the right to do as we please, but stress our shared responsibility to value and to listen to each other'.

Dafydd's Essay can be downloaded as a BBC Arts & Ideas podcast here.