When is a human right not a human right?..

Human RightsAnswer: When it is a “precious liberty”.  Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) an independent charity working to challenge immigration detention in the UK have highlighted that the new national curriculum for Citizenship taught in secondary schools has removed references to “human rights” when discussing the rights and freedoms enjoyed by UK citizens. Whilst human rights are still discussed in reference to international law, Temi Ogunye, writing for Citizenship Foundation Voices argues that:

Exactly what these ‘precious liberties’ are is left entirely unclear, and the introduction of the term appears to have no basis in popular use in law, politics or education.

The process of defining the idea of ‘precious liberties’ for our young people must, as with any contested idea, take the form of an ongoing conversation… What does the vague and unfamiliar phrase ‘precious liberties’ designate that the well-known (though still, of course, contested) idea of human rights does not?…It is instructive that human rights and international law are packaged together because it points to one potential point of difference with ‘precious liberties’: human rights are global, general and, potentially, foreign, while precious liberties are local, home-grown and (only?) “enjoyed by the citizens of the United Kingdom

Does terminology matter? Should we care whether young people are taught about “human rights”?  For debates on these issues and more, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our mailing list here.


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