The Magna Carta, sealed in 1215, has come to stand for the rule of law, curbs on executive power and the freedom to enjoy basic liberties. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, it was heralded as 'a Magna Carta for all human kind'. Yet in the year in which this medieval Charter’s 800th anniversary is widely celebrated, the future of the UK’s commitment to international human rights standards is in doubt.

Are ‘universal values’ commendable as a benchmark by which to judge the rest of the world, but unacceptable when applied ‘at home’? Francesca Klug takes us on a journey through time, exploring such topics as ‘British values,’ ‘natural rights,’ ‘enlightenment values’ and ‘legal rights,’ to convey what is both distinctive and challenging about the ethic and practice of universal human rights. It is only through this prism, she argues, that the current debate on human rights protection in the UK can be understood.

This book will be of interest to students of British Politics, Law, Human Rights and International Relations.

chapter 1|2 pages


chapter |6 pages

Legal rights or human rights?

chapter |3 pages

Natural rights or human rights?

chapter |1 pages

Exploring the human rights ethic

chapter |2 pages

Reason and conscience

chapter |11 pages

Liberty and equality

chapter |11 pages

The meaning of ‘universal’

chapter |17 pages

Conclusion: inspiration or foundation?

part |1 pages

SECTION I Anthology

chapter 1|11 pages


chapter |16 pages

On the road to the Human Rights Act

chapter |5 pages

Principles and values

chapter |12 pages

Critiques and controversies

chapter |14 pages

Back to the future?