Rights and democracy - Macleans.ca

Rights and democracy


Speaking at this weekend’s Conservative convention, Jason Kenney explains the Conservative ethos.

“We don’t depend on the bloated bureaucracies of the nanny state; we thrive on our freedom and are upheld by the law,” he said. “We don’t assume that history began in the Summer of Love; we honour a tradition reaching back to the Magna Carta … Our adversaries were focused on the obsessions of the chattering classes – like Taliban prisoners – rather than the practical bread-and-butter concerns of hard-working families.”

Though neither are as old as the Magna Carta (established in 1215), both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948) and the Geneva Conventions (agreed to in 1949) predate the Summer of Love (1967).

Article 39 of the Magna Carta is translated as follows.

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Article 5 of the Universal Declaration outlaws torture as well as “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Upon the declaration’s adoption at the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt placed it within the tradition of the Magna Carta.

We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind, that is the approval by the General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recommended by the Third Committee. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Man by the French people in 1789, the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the United States, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries.