The Stephen Livingstone Lecture: ‘The problems with human rights’
Keywords:human rights, conceptions of rights, Bill of Rights, non-state actors
This is the text of the 2019 Stephen Livingstone Lecture delivered at Queen's University Belfast on 21 November 2019. It explores three types of problems which frequently arise when advocates of human rights try to convert a claim into a human right. These are philosophical problems (people differ greatly in how they conceptualise human rights), legal problems (it is an accident of legal history that human rights became a term of art in international law before it did so in national law, meaning that even today some human rights activists maintain the view that only states can be accused of violating human rights) and practical, or implementational, problems (where there difficulties with the remedies made available to victims of human rights abuses).