Philosophy, politics or law? Unpublished lecture, LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights, Certifi cate in international Human Rights law and practice 7 October 2013, LSE (edited and abridged)

1. Introduction It is undoubtedly now far more widely accepted than it was a generation ago that human beings have certain fundamental rights purely as a result of their common humanity, rather than their citizenship status or any other external characteristic. Notwithstanding the commonplace observation that human rights standards are honoured more in their breach than in their observance, how do we account for their continuing expansion? Is the idea of human rights best understood through the prism of philosophy, politics or law?