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Assessing the Universality of Human Rights in the Context of Health

LOWE, DANIEL,MATTHEW (2018) Assessing the Universality of Human Rights in the Context of Health. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis looks to examine the contemporary potentiality of universal human rights. It begins by noting that within the modern context the idea of universal rights is increasingly challenged by a security dominated discourse. The era of the so called ‘War on Terror’ is defined by diminished appreciation of the concept of human rights, both in terms of government commitments and popular opinion. The central aim of this thesis is to determine whether the idea of universal human rights is justifiable within these contexts.

In accordance with this aim, this thesis will utilise important elements of critical jurisprudential accounts of human rights, centred on the work of Costas Douzinas. These elements, based upon challenging the accepted standards/interpretations of legal concepts, will be employed in an attempt to provide an objective appraisal of the sufficiency of prevailing interpretations of the concept of human rights. Through utilisation of Douzinas’ authoritative body of work documenting the presence of human rights in the contemporary world, this thesis will ultimately look to challenge the perception that security and human rights are competing aims. This thesis will argue that the universality of human rights relates to their overarching purpose. In accordance with James Griffin, this thesis will propose that this purpose relates to the actualisation of ‘normative agency’.

Through a critical examination of the modern construct of human rights, centred around issues of human healthiness, this thesis will identify the right to health as a foundational claim – in that its fulfilment (either directly or indirectly) is a pre-requisite for the meaningfulness of other protections (and the actualisation of normative agency). This thesis will conclude by examining this concept of human healthiness within the context of national security. Here it will be shown that as both national security and human rights are centred on considerations of subsistence, they are not incompatible, and that the universality of the idea of rights is absolute. Further, it will be shown that this absoluteness reflects a permanence of purpose rather than practical implementation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Jun 2018 14:46

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