Fake News, Human Rights and Access to Justice – Adam Wagner
Articles,  Blog

Fake News, Human Rights and Access to Justice – Adam Wagner


Thanks for having me. Its such an honour to be
here giving this lecture and thank you for having
me in Cardiff. I have noticed that someone
just tweeted in alarm that I am not wearing a tie! Is that going to cause anybody
a problem in the audience? I am okay with it if you
are okay? Excellent. I think we are good. So, I am going to talk
to you tonight about access to justice,
human rights and fake news. I am not going talk to you about
how wearing socks in bed can cure a low libido, If you wanted, I can get you
the date of that edition, if anybody came to the wrong
lecture that is fine with me. So, in the introduction
you will have heard I set something up called
‘Rights Info’, that was in April 2015
so just under 2 years ago it is a human rights public
education project focusing on online resources. In In the summer of 2015 when we set it up, produced
a set of infographics around the European Court of
Human Rights and what it does What we wanted to address was the kinds of people
who are making applications to the court from the UK. Because if you read any
newspaper in Britain you will have seen at some point
seen the human rights laws called criminals charters. So this stuff
is really for criminals and over and over again you
will see the majority of people, even everybody who is using
human rights laws are basically terrorists or criminals who are
trying to get one over on ordinary people. And if you see there, I have
got The Sun headline, “Their rights or yours?”
That is the frame. So, the Rights Info volunteers
did some research on the court, to find out
what proportion of claims are being brought
by what kinds of claimants and we found that the truth was
about a third of people from the UK cases,
in the cases that were successful before the
European court about a third were criminals
or suspected criminals. Meaning that two thirds were not. There was an enormous range
of other cases about gay soldiers, children being
abused in local authority care, journalists having the right not
to reveal their sources, people having the right to see
their medical records and finding out who their
adoptive parents were. An enormous range, amongst
many others. As far as we were concerned
job done. But we were wrong. In August 2015 The Sun
published an editorial about this infographic. which on the one hand great,
its been in The Sun on the other hand…
I will read it to you: Here is a free tip to lefty
human rights lawyers if you are trying to persuade
us how lucky we are to be under the rule of the
Court of Human Rights best not to include the
actual figures because the statistics
in a glossy new brochure designed to show how
wonderful it really is to have foreign judges in charge,
show the opposite. They reveal that a third
of all claimants who have won their cases
against the UK at the foreign courts are either
terrorists prisoners or criminals. So you can’t win. It could have been a tenth,
could have been five, the editorial would have
been the same. Fake news is old news
in human rights. For years we have been
faced with the barrage of exaggerated or
fabricated stories about villains who are apparently
using human rights laws to get one over on
ordinary people. And for years we in the
human rights community and certainly I have been
trying to find a way to make things better. I want to share some of those
lessons with you tonight. But first, what has this got to
do with access to justice? When lawyers talk about access
to justice they’re almost always talking about
access to the courts. In the legal community access to
justice is kind of become a shorthand for access
to lawyers. So, it is no surprise that in the
great battle for access to justice in recent years
has been about legal aid. I don’t take any issue with that, which is a hugely important fight. But it isn’t the end of the
story, and in fact it isn’t really the beginning
of the story. My aim tonight to broaden what
access to justice is thought of and to convince you of
three things. First of all that the fight for
access to justice begins well away from the courtroom
and away from lawyers Secondly, there is a real risk
that in the not too distant future our human rights protections
are going to be reduced or taken away altogether. And if that happens all the clever
lawyers in the world won’t be able to guarantee
access to justice. Thirdly, to prevent that,
we have to think quite differently about how
we talk about and build a human rights culture
across the UK. So, access to justice does involve
lawyers and courts, I accept that. Human rights and anti
discrimination laws are relativly new
innovations they can be granted, they can be taken away by
a simple parliamentary majority or referendum and that’s not pie in the sky. So just, on this point what is
access to justice The United Nations
put it like this: In the absence of
access to justice, people are unable to have
their voice heard, exercise their rights,
challenge discrimination or hold decision makers
accountable. And it probably isn’t suprising
when lawyers then think about access to justice, they
think about courts. Because a hammer sees every
problem as a nail. I want to add two parts
to that equation First, to have their voices heard
and exercise their rights challenge discrimination and
hold decision makers into account, well before you get to court,
people need to know their rights. That is simple but it is true. If a person is discriminated
against at work because of their religion
or their race, they might have access to
a lawyer in theory, but if they don’t know that there is a legally
enforceable right at the heart of what is being
done to them, then, they will never
get to the lawyer. There is a point which
comes before even that. The availability of rights, what good is access to a court if we lose the rights themselves? As I was saying that is
not theoretical. In December of last year,
so just a few months ago, the daily telegraph reported
that Teresa May is going to run –
says the story her 2020 Election Campaign
on a platform of leaving the European Convention
on Human Rights or BRETSHIT as I described it. You heard it here first! BRETSHIT So, that was never denied. May or may not happen but,
it is reaching, because of Brexit that idea is
reaching the mainstream which it never was before. and those who value human
rights as an idea should be very worried
about that indeed, because if the UK leaves
the convention system which it was instrumental
in creating that could realistically, without
scare mongering that could unravel
the system itself. So to sum up so far, for access to justice to work,
people need to know their rights. More fundamentally people need
to support the idea of rights for them to be sustained. Now, I often hear human rights
campaigners asking rhetorically, how can people disagree with
the idea of human rights and they quote Lord Bingham. Who famously said,
and rightly said: ‘which rights would we wish
to give up? The right to life? The right
not to be tortured The right not to be
falsely imprisoned?’ and you can hear, if you don’t have a thing
for Lord Bingham You can hear Patrick Stewart
making the same argument on The Guardian website. and its been viewed
millions of times. And it makes people feel good,
how can anyone be so stupid that they disagree? But I don’t think that
approach works with anyone except the
people that are already converted to the cause. I will explain why at the end
of the lecture. If people don’t support the
idea of human rights the system will not survive. What has that got the do
with fake news? Heres the thing; Fake news
undermines knowledge of and support for human rights and it has been doing in
the UK for years. In fact, fake news is
old news in human rights we have been dealing with this
issue for a lot longer than Brexit and Donald Trump. So just to expand out So a few more head lines. So, the human rights debate
isn’t really a debate at all. It is a slagging match. It has been for a long time. The newspapers regularly report
tales of human rights gone wrong, in which criminals, terrorists
and other villains get one over on the
rights of ordinary Britains, their rights or yours. You won’t be able to read from
where your sitting what the captions on
the people read on that sun front page but on the right for your
rights we have Dave, Sophiera, Karena and Wilks and on the left we have killer, rapist, terrorist and peodo-rapist. That for me, is the absolute most
effective piece of human rights image framing
that is out there and I will come back to it. The overarching narrative
as put out by newspapers like the sun, mail and telegraph. is that human rights were
useful for fighting fascists but we don’t really need
them anymore Now they have been
captured by villains who use them to get one over
on ordinary people, and mad european judges
who impose their bizarre and immoral continental
rulings on us law abiding Brits, telling us what shapes our bananas
should be and whatnot, their rights or your. The sun and the daily express
regularly refer to the hated Human Rights Act. The Daily Mail calls it a charter
for criminals and parasites. Then there are the myths. The most famous of course
is the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported
because – and I’m not making this up – he had a pet cat. Which was said by
Teresa May who was Home Secretary
at the time but who is now
Prime Minister this is an excellent example
of the danger posed by entrenched
human rights myths. They have been called, I think
by David Adam Green, zombie myths because
they refused to die. So just to take that example of
what was called Cat gate. The original judgement
was released in 2008 It was an immigration
appeal judgment and was misreported
at the time. Then, the judicial
communications office got involved and they
explained publicly that the decision wasn’t
about a cat at all. It was about a
Home Office error and in fact it wasn’t decided for
any reason apart from the error. But in June 2011 just before the
Tory Party Conference where Teresa May made
that speech that was repeated in The Sun,
The Telegraph and The Mail. They have a list of human rights
gone wrong. Although this time with a rider,
the deportation was avoided partly because of the cat. But the cat story was adopted
without even the partly qualified by the then Home Secretary,
in her party speech. And it was used as a
prime example of why the Human Rights Act needs to go. As many, including Ken Clarke,
who was the Justice Secretary, pointed out in the coming days,
the story was false. Had a grain of truth, there was
a cat involved in the judgement because the judge was looking
for evidence that the man involved who was going be
removed from the UK had a subsisting relationship
with his partner. So they shared a flat, they had photos showing
the relationship went back years had a shared bank account
and a pet cat together. That was the cat that
did the argument. But you can see
the way it develops and it never goes.
It’s still there on the website. Another myth: That serial killer Dennis Neilsen was allowed to receive
hard core gay porn in jail, thanks to Human Rights Laws. In fact his case was thrown out
by the High Court at the first hurdle.
You can read it online. Yet that fabrication
is still on The Sun and the Daily Mail’s website.
I searched it yesterday. I will read you the Daily Mail’s
version of it. “…’uman rights innit …” thats the title “The Human Rights Act 2000
allowed serial killer Dennis Neilsen
to win a case to look at hardcore pornographic
magazines in his cell. He successfully argued
that existing rules which allowed him to look
at soft porn magazines infringed his human rights.” Then there is the claim that
the UK loses 3 out of 4 European Court
of Human Rights cases which made the front page of the
Daily Mail and Telegraph in 2012. The real figure, you’ll find on the Rights Info,
site is around 1 in 50. The real figure is
around 1 in 50. The Sun also reported
that Euro Judges go against the UK in
3 out of 5 cases. But again it doesn’t
make any difference. Where is the press regulator? Well, basically, toothless. you make a compliant as
I got into a stage of my life that I don’t look back on fondly
when I was complaining a lot to the press regulator. You get into an argument with
the newspapers lawyers where they try to argue their case
and then if you win, which you invariably do
in a limited way, you get a correction
in tiny letters on page two of the
newspaper which you can post on twitter
and everybody agrees with you, will repost it and nobody reads it
and the damage has been done, because the difference between
a front page head line which 6 million people have read
and a tiny correction as we know is enormous. In the world of social media these
things spread within moments. For example the’ human rights
to make a killing’ headline you can see behind you, claimed that the Human Rights
Court had handed criminals taxpayer funded pay outs
of £4.4 million. An average of £22,000
pounds a head Which was almost completely wrong. The real figure of damages –
so this is the entire history of the European Court
of Human Rights, all cases won against
the UK, £1.7 million, not 4.4 million,
that is for all claimants. not just criminals and terrorists.
Thats for everybody who’s ever won in all the different kinds of
cases that i’ve discussed But again, the Mail they got
a slap on the wrist and got told off and then
printed a tiny correction. This isn’t just anecdotal. Here is a study done
by counterpoint. and equally ours a couple of
years ago looking at a year of press coverage
across the UK, press coverage and
political speeches and you’ll see at the bottom,
green boxes and red boxes. The green boxes represent positive
frames about human rights, so that is things that
make people – when they discuss human rights and they have been talking
through those frames whether it is
protecting basic rights, promoting tradition
and patriotism, defending british democracy –
it makes them feel better or good about human rights.
On the right are negative frames. Decreased security,
reduced sovereignty increased unfairness and so on. You will see in this analysis
over 70% of press coverage of human rights
across the uk was from a negative standpoint,
in England over 80%. You will be delighted to see,
delighted to see that Wales is the, is the complete
exception to that where your press is unbalanced
the other way You have got about 60% supportive
articles about human rights although it does beg the question,
do people read the national press or the local press, that is a
slightly different issue. But, UK wide, there is a huge imbalance
over what kinds of stories people are reading
about human rights. So, what effect does that have? It has I would say a very
significant effect. So, I am just going to show you a
few slides about research that have been done about public
attitudes towards human rights. They are not, they don’t, they make slightly grim reading,
I should warn you. This is the first one to sort of,
this is a nice one. It is a nice, but doesn’t mean
anything, but it is a nice one. This is a liberty and
ComRes poll done in 2013 How important or unimportant
do you think it is that there is a law to protect
rights and freedoms in Britain? A bit like asking people,
do you like chocolate cake? Of course most people
say that is important. But when you drill down
to the details, you find something
quite different. In October 2014 Chris Grayling, who was then Justice Secretary
released a paper about what a British Bill
of Rights would look like under the Tory Government if
they got in, in the next election. That plan, unambiguously
made clear that there would be fewer rights
for fewer people. and it would reduce significantly
the connection between the UK and the European
Convention on Human Rights in a way that would
probably lead to leaving the European
Convention. This was a YouGov poll done
at the time in October: found that 40% of people
supported that plan and only 23% opposed it. Then when the conservative
government got into power in June 2015 another poll: “Do you support or
oppose replacing the Human Rights Act with a
proposed British Bill of Rights” Again 46% of people supported.
Only 36% opposed. October 2014: “Has incorporation of the
European Convention on human rights into UK law
been a good or bad thing” 38% said a bad thing,
only 31% said a good thing. So if we think back to what
I said at the beginning about Teresa May’s possible plans to leave the European Convention
on Human Rights to BRETSHIT you can see here why
that might be a popular policy. As much as we in this room
might not want that, the British public might say
we have had enough of these foreign criminals
and judges deciding what our lives
are going to look like. This is an equally ours and
YouGov poll. A really nice detailed
bit of research done in 2012 that found, overall and taking into account
lots of different ways that people think about human
rights and discuss human rights, only 22% of the UK public really are pro the idea
of human rights, 26% are anti and about 50% are
neutral or ambivalent, which is, for me, a pretty
important bit of research. In my view, the correlation
between the level of – the kinds of press coverage we
have in the UK about human rights, which is where, lets face it most people get their information
about human rights it certainly doesn’t
come from the government, that correlation is important. It won’t be a difficult leap to
put that into causation, these articles are causing
the problem. So the question of our times,
what do we do about negative human
rights coverage? What do we do about fake news
in human rights? I used to think the answer
was to be quick and reactive. I used to go to a lot of meetings, I ran something called the
UK Human Rights Blog, which was a popular source
of human rights information I used to go to a lot of meetings
with human rights organisations where people would sit
around a table and say what are we going to do in
the latest article in X newspaper we need to set up a quick reaction
force, we need to myth bust, we need to show people
what they are reading is a lie or is false or is exaggerated. The thinking goes, if you prove
that something is a lie, then naturally because we are
all rational actors the people reading
the lie will think, what else am I hearing
that is a lie? Maybe the whole underlying
points they are making about foreign criminals and terrorists and
getting one over. And all that, maybe that
is a lie too? I don’t think that is right. I think that is actually
not the right approach although it has a very
significant charm to it. To explain why that is, I am going to use my
friend the elephant. The elephant and rider. and I am going the try and talk a
bit about the psychology of this whole issue. So this is a metaphor, I am not going the be talking
about elephants or people riding I am not encouraging
anybody to ride elephants and thats not a real picture in case anybody thinks
it looks fun The metaphor comes from a book by
someone called Johnathon Haidt. its called “the righteous mind”
He’s an American professor I recommend the book. and he’s a social psychologist and he argues, not alone amongst many other
social psychologists and you’ll read this a lot in the
newspapers over fake news, he argues that people are
fundamentally intuitive and not rational. So the metaphor, the intuition
is the elephant developed over millions
of years of evolution. The rider represents rationality. A much later innovation. This theory is based on science,
and on real facts. Haidt cites countless studies, which show when most
people, when given dilemmas tend to reach a conclusion, well before they develop the
reasoning to support it. In fact what they will often do is
reach the conclusion like that, and then go through
quite a tortuous process to try and use their
rationality to justify why they think
what they think. and Haidt says that the reason
to develop, is not as a guide for life
as we might expect but what he describes as our
inner press secretary or even worse our
inner lawyer because reason is often called
upon in social situations which humans are all about, it is often called upon to
justify and rationalise, not to guide. It is not to say it
doesn’t guide sometimes but what it is most useful for, is rationalising pre existing
instinctive reactions. And he says that, a huge amount
of morality and of our morals s based on those intuitions one of the really fascinating
studies he cites is about twins who have
been separated at birth and a been adopted to
different parents. What the studies find is it makes
pretty much no difference at all, what the political beliefs of the
adoptive parents are they end up believing more or less
the same things on all fundamental issues which does rather suggest
that our natures are doing a huge amount
of the work when it comes to what
we believe morally. He refers to what he calls
moral foundations and he identifies six. They are care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Each one arises from a different
evolutionary pressure, so for example, care comes
from the need in an evolutionary
term to care for pretty much useless
baby children who are, compared
to the rest of the animal world, are useless for a very
long time. So we have to develop these
strong bonds with them, which has lots of knock on effects
in the way we view the world. Or the pressure to live
successfully in large social groups, which is where our sense of
fairness comes from and loyalty Because those bonding factors
allow us to see the point, see the reason for living in
a large social group which was better for us in
evolutionary terms. Or to prevent oppressive
alpha males gaining control over
those groups which is where the authority
and the rebellion aspects come from and so on. Here is a tongue. So, here you see, and this is
another metaphor that these moral foundations
are a bit like taste buds. In the same way that you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t open a restaurant that only appealed to one or
two taste buds. You’d struggle with a restaurant
that only served sour foods or such like. When you are making a moral
argument you really have to and you want to hit different groups,
lots of different groups of people you have to appeal to those
different instinctive reactions. So, how does this apply
in the human rights sense? Well just to explain what these
different intuitions are. So, for example, with care, we love attachment,
protection and empathy we hate injury,
suffering and pain. No problem for human rights
that is front and centre in how Human rights are
always argued. Fairness and cheating. We love justice and reciprocity
and altruism. we hate unfairness, inequality
and dishonesty again, great, perfect for arguing
human rights. Liberty and oppression; we love
freedom, choice nd autonomy we hate bullies oppression
and slavery perfect. But then you have the others,
which you will recognise from people who probably disagree
with you politically as animating factors: Loyalty, patriotism, self
sacrifice and allegiance, treachery, we hate duplicity,
selfishness that’s a problem
for human rights we don’t really talk
in those terms. Authority and subversion: we love
respect, tradition and customs we hate usurpation, insubordination and
defiance, sanctity and degradation, this is
really where religion comes from if you don’t believe it comes from
an omnipotent God We love purity and righteousness
and holyness and we hate contamination,
immorality and sin. So, how, bringing this back
to the central argument, where does this leave us? What Haigt says is that –
so he has got a website. I think it is called
yourmorals.org Thousands and thousands of
people have taken surveys about what they believe This is the conclusion that he
has reached from it. That in the American sense, conservatives, so you can see on
the right of this, of this chart the very conservative people – so
conservative in the American sense On the left is very liberal. You’ll see the very conservative
people are really quite good at appealing in their arguments
and in their beliefs to all of the taste buds so they,
it is not that they, its often said well you don’t care
about the poor, you don’t care about
the refugees but that is not true based
on what the research says. But they are much better
than the liberals at appealing to those
central six foundations. There is lots of other
research that puts it in a slightly different way,
but all ends up in the same place.
And the point is that liberals who talk about universalism talk about everybody
being the same, who talk about equality as being
their sort of animating factors. They are not very good at speaking
to these other issues. So where does this leave us? So, my thinking has changed about how to deal with
human rights fake news. Because this isn’t really
about fake news. That is a symptom;
it is not the cause. Myth busting and
fact checking don’t work as a primary tactic for
changing peoples minds. They do work in certain senses
they make your base feel much better, and if you are
on twitter you’ll see that the most retweeted tweets of all
are the one that say ‘we have got to retweet the
correction the Daily Mail made so everybody knows about it’. Or about ‘Oh this guy made three
fundamental errors in his article’ Or those sorts of things because
it makes you feel good. But it doesn’t change
anybody’s minds. I sat with focus groups
through my rights info work with people who are sort of
politically in the middle You try and do myth busting
with them and you show them the daily mail,
which they will read it is the most popular newspaper they will read it mostly for
entertainment and non political stuff, maybe they are
not strong political actors, But they read the Daily Mail,
and they read a bit of some other websites but you show them – well
the Daily Mail said this, these are the facts, these are all
the sources that say thats wrong and they say ‘Well… You know
we just don’t know I think everybody is exaggerating
a little bit to an extent’ and it is contested,
it is remains contested. But what the research says
if you do that process and bring people back
a month later what they remember is the myths not the busts because the myths
are usually the best stories Even worse they attribute the
myths to you They say, ‘You told me that MMR
causes autism’ and those are the vacination
studies that have been done a lot in the states, and thats
a real problem and it goes back
to the elephant and the rider. The work is done by what people
fundamentally believe and they’re fitting the world and the facts they hear
around those core beliefs – and it takes a lot more
to move them away from the core beliefs. So focusing on myth busting
doesn’t work It is like pulling leaves
off the tree and expecting the tree to die, it doesn’t because the trunk and
the roots is where the life is. The trunk in the human rights area
is the overarching narrative about human rights promoted
by tabloid newspapers and often by politicians as well
– on all sides. And Labour – they passed the
Human Rights Act in 1998 they were huge fans
of human rights but once they realised, it would
reduce their circle of operation or the extent they could operate
in certain areas, so there is a whole load of quotes
I can give you from Tony Blair and David Blunkett
saying ‘these laws cause problems
and they have got to change’. That narrative is extremely
powerful and it is going the be very
difficult to dislodge. And we saw it with Brexit The narrative created
around the EU not just in during the
referendum campaign, but for years and decades
before that campaign, that it was a kind of
sovereignty sapping, expensive, fedral,
red tape monster, so powerful, and that was so
powerful and well entrenched there was probably wasn’t
time to dislodge it during the referendum campaign and it particularly wasn’t going
to be dislodged by David Cameron
standing up and saying: “there are 3 fundamental
misconceptions in the leave argument
and they are these: one, that the EU
costs £350 million a week! I was watching that imagining
everyone watching that, going ‘What? £350 billion a week? I don’t trust David Cameron but
that sounds a lot of money. and you just know. If you attack, If you try and just argue
on the fact play without talking about
emotions and values you are going to lose
the argument. The trunk in human rights which is
the cause of low public opinion and knowledge about human rights
is caused by the better and more prevailing story telling,
framing and emotional engagement
by the tabloid press. I really believe that, that is, why we have got
to where we are, the tabloid press
are very powerful and they are the
best story tellers, they’re appealing to
the taste buds that human rights
advocates can’t reach. They are getting to the authority
and loyalty taste bud this anti-British attack on
sovereignty and British values. You see it over and over
again in the stories. Sanctity and degradation,
these rapists, rapists, peodo-rapists,
terrorists, these people are subhuman in the eyes of the
newspapers and also in the eyes of a lot
of the public. That is a very,
very powerful and difficult narrative
to dislodge That is why the myths
can be pedalled and they refuse to die, because the underlying
narrative is so strong and the frame is so
difficult to remove. So what are we going
to do about it? Just to round to round up. I suggest three things and these are non exhaustive and I’d certainly like to hear
what you think after. The first one is we would
need to strengthen the frames which we know are there and exist and are strong
for human rights. So going back to the Sun
anecdote at the beginning. You can’t win by stepping into the
frames that already exist and have been created by
The Sun and the Daily Mail. There is no point saying
‘well it is one third or a quarter or
a tenth are criminals’ because you are creating, and I accept this error
from my part, You are just reinforcing the idea
that it is them versus us. You have to start from a position
as you heard at the beginning, human rights are for everyone. You have to open up
that care and fairness and liberty aspects
of human rights. and do it in a way which
is just as engaging and interesting and fun
and colourful as the tabloid
newspapers do. Like why not? There is so much material, There are so many
fascinating, enriching and engaging,
uplifting, stories about human
rights claimants that the human rights
community know but aren’t out there
in the public eye. We don’t need to emulate
the tabloids but we do have to learn
from them, we have to understand why is their
narrative so clear, and why are their stories
so well told? That is what I am trying to do
with Rights Info, we are trying to do it
in a different way. So that is the first thing,
strengthen the existing frames. The second thing: we need to appeal
to the other taste buds I am getting progressivly more
difficult with my three things. We need to talk about
Britishness and the British origins
of human rights laws. Or the Welsh origins or the Scottish origins or the
Northern Irish, it doesn’t matter.
We need to appeal to basic – the sense of togetherness
and group loyalty that a very large proportion of the
people in this country feel and they feel not because
they are racists, or because they don’t
like foreigners. It is because that is what people
care about; people do care about Britishness
and about British values and it is important to them. People care about the monarchy, as much as that
might upset liberals and until… and by insulting those views
and I don’t, I am not talking about
anyone the room, but, by saying, well, “that’s just racist, talking about
all this English / British stuff.” It is a nonstarter because you
are automatically switching off a very large
proportion of the audience and you wouldn’t see that in a
successful political campaign you shouldn’t see it in a
successful campaign to bring human rights to everyone. Some people say ‘well… ‘you can’t talk
about the British origins of rights or the British values
that are in human rights, while also saying they’re
universal. Because your saying
“aren’t you saying that British people deserve
different rights?’ I just think that argument
is not correct. In the United States, where
there is a very deep patriotic sanctification
if I put it like that of the constitution
and the Bill of Rights, There isn’t the sense of
it is because, there is something
about Americans that they deserve
those rights. Although some people
might say that, but i don’t think thats the
overarching narrative I think the narrative is, those
rights are for all people but they are important in bringing
us together as a country as well. We can all sort of sit around
that table and that is the, that is what the founders thought. That can be our
narrative as well but it is going to take
a lot of work. There is also nothing
wrong about saying that human rights are
universal in principle but are likely
to be applied differently in different societys I say its non controversial
because the European Court of Human Rights
says it all the time. When it comes to social issues they give the individual states
a huge amount of leeway to say well you have got your own history
and your own social set up and your own different
social issues. We’re gonna allow you as a
democratic population to figure that out for yourselves
within reason and within lines. But there is nothing wrong with
applying human rights locally. I think there is a big confusion
over this idea of British versus human rights. That is the second thing, its about appealing to those
other taste buds. The third thing,
this is the hardest, we, I hope I speak for people
who have come out on an evening to hear a
lecture on human rights, probably care about human rights, So I say we, we need to make
ourselves uncomfortable I got this line from, a review
of the book; ‘The Righteous Mind’ I was
talking about earlier in the New York Times: “politics isn’t just about
manipulating people who disagree with you,
it is about learning from them.” This is the hardest step
because this is about getting away from the idea that
there is something just about the way we communicate
that can solve this issue because it is just,
like with the EU debate, ‘if only we just explain that
in a slightly different way and understood how, what the right messaging was that somehow we will
win the argument’ and I think that is a flaw
in the way that human rights organisations
think about all the stuff I am talking about appealing
to different people. To appeal to different people
you have to go and talk and understand what
their fears are, what they are worried about what do they want
out of the system? I mean that is really hard because it might
mean making tough choices about what we – what parts of
human rights ideals we want to put on the pedestal
and what parts we don’t. And how we apply human rights. People are right to be worried
about terrorism and terrorists remaining
in the country because of the right
to family life. I don’t think there is
any moral, clear moral answer to the question
of what you do when someone is convicted of
terrorist offences, they have a disabled child who needs them there
in the country. What do you do? I am involved in some
of those cases, they are the hardest cases, and they often get to a fine line. I think allowing people to
understand that complexity and bringing them into the
complexity is part of the important part of the difference
we need the make in terms of listening. What do human rights
have to say about responsibilities?
And again this goes back to the way that people often
talk about human rights ‘well they are not about
responsibilities’ I know when I read the
European Convention the responsibilities are there
in a number of the rights they are there, and if you read the case law
of the european court, they are there as well. Why don’t people understand that?
Is there an issue there? Should there be more
about responsibility? I don’t know the answer to that, but these are the kinds
of issues that arrise when you talk to
people, reasonable people about why they have an issue
with the system. So, to sum up. For access to justice to work,
people need to know their rights and soupport the basic idea
of human rights, we need to do
a lot more to tell the success stories
about human rights from a human and emotional
perspective, from down here
rather than up here. Fact checking and myth busting
can’t be the only focus. We need to build a
human rights movement based not just on leftest
internationalism which can leave people cold and in certain circumstances
doesn’t work at all. But something which speaks
to a broader sense of ownership of society and to do that we are
going to have to up our game
on communications but also listen more. Not just about speaking
but about listening. I do think there is a great
opportunity now as the constitutional
make up of the UK is in flux because of Brexit. Now is the time, we’ve got
four years before – three years before
the next election to really build that case for the
future of human rights to give people true
access to justice for the coming decades and to build the idea
into something which we as a country
can all believe in and buy into. Thanks very much.

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