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  • Published: 2 May 2024
  • ISBN: 9781802060928
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

Human Rights

The Case for the Defence




A powerful and urgent explanation and vindication of our human rights and freedoms

Our human rights are endangered. After the devastation of World War Two the international community united to enshrine fundamental rights to refuge, health, education and living standards. They protected privacy, fair trials and free speech and outlawed torture, slavery and discrimination. Their goal was greater global justice, equality and peace. That settlement is now under attack from opponents on both left and right and populist and authoritarian movements worldwide. Simultaneously, we are threatened by war, inequality, new tech and climate catastrophe, crises human rights can help us address.

In this urgent, powerful book, Shami Chakrabarti, demonstrates why human rights matter and why we need to secure further rights to deal with challenges of the present and future. Outlining the historic national and international struggles for human rights, from ancient Babylon to the present day, Chakrabarti is an indispensable guide to the law and logic underpinning human dignity and universal freedoms. This book equips supporters in the battle of ideas and will encourage doubters to think again.

To believe in human rights is to believe in human beings. If they - and we - are to survive, these rights must be owned and understood by everyone.

  • Published: 2 May 2024
  • ISBN: 9781802060928
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

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Praise for Human Rights

A book that is as passionate, as precise, as needed, as human rights themselves. After 30 years as a lawyer and campaigner at the rock face of human rights work, Shami Chakrabarti argues the case for defending and promoting these rights with reason, lyricism and subtlety, offering us comfort and a compass for the future

Ahdaf Soueif

A clear, impassioned case for human rights law… absorbing… For Chakrabarti the ECHR isn’t just a set of amalgamated legal safeguards but a source of "sheer poetic insight" into human nature… This is law essentially willing civilisation into action, and as with difficult music or the higher reaches of maths, there is a hidden beauty in it

Gaby Hinsliff, Observer

A fierce and thoughtful answer to those who thoughtlessly criticise the whole idea of human rights and its core values of dignity and equality - but also a blueprint for how human rights thinking might help us solve the great problems of the day - cyberspace and AI, armed conflict and climate change - and give democracy a future

Brenda Hale

An ideal introduction to the subject of human rights ... Chakrabarti is excellent on the historical origins of her subject ... and shows how the idea of human rights can have a direct bearing on the problems of today, whether war, climate change, poverty or artificial intelligence. In Chakrabarti’s hands, the underlying values are what matter about human rights, forming a roadmap to civilised living at a time of change and crisis. I cannot offhand think of a better, more attractive introduction to the subject for those curious to know more about it than the occasional newspaper headline ... Chakrabarti has an enviable writing style, her fluency in print matching her bewitching speaking skills; many times I could hear her voice coming through the text ... pugilistic in her defence of human rights, Chakrabarti is a key high priest in this, the most important of our secular religions

Conor Gearty, Irish Times

An impassioned, thoughtful reminder of why the principle of human rights is a universal force for good, at a moment when some in power would have us believe otherwise. Read and feel inspired

Angela Saini, author of THE PATRIARCHS

At once primer and urgent clarion call, Shami Chakrabarti’s brilliant history and defence of human rights could not have come at a better time. Lucid, exacting and passionate, this book is required reading for critics and advocates alike. Chakrabarti reminds us that rights are not there to make us comfortable, and nor should they be traded for political points. Rights exist to keep us – and our democracies - free

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Chakrabarti’s bracing defence of human rights against their sceptics is as accessible as it is necessary. Connecting historical struggles for justice under law with today’s challenges on a burning and wartorn planet, she has made another indispensable contribution to our public life

Samuel Moyn

Even within the most open of societies, the case for human rights has to be refashioned in each generation. Shami Chakrabarti's pages glow with the persuasive gifts and 30 years' of practical experience she brings to her task

Peter Hennessy

Full of passion and idealism but also fine scholarship, this book sets out a plan for how Humanity can avoid a cruel, Hobbesian future. It will be required reading for anyone who believes that Human Rights offer a better path forward for global society than the Manichean one it is presently treading

Andrew Roberts

Human rights need informed and passionate supporters, perhaps now more than ever. Shami Chakrabarti is both, her eloquence and persuasiveness evident in every page of this lively and accessible book

Conor Gearty

I would follow this woman to the end of the earth. If you are a human you need to read Shami Chakrabati's Human Rights. If you are not then don't. We need this book now more than ever

Lemn Sissay (via X)

In a world which increasingly threatens the rights and values many of us have come to take for granted, Chakrabarti’s book is a timely reminder of both the history of these hard won freedoms and how they have come to shape what a just and fair society looks like. Her powerful, important book reminds us why we must continue to hold human rights up to the light, ensuring they protect not only the human dignity of the most vulnerable but the health and strength of a democratic society

Sarah Langford

The threat to human rights is ever increasing and the practical way this book informs us is commendable. The book gives us a road map of what we are facing that is easy to understand. People across the world face more conflict than ever. Wars that have nothing to do with ordinary people going about their daily lives come from the governments that are supposed to protect them. The book is worth reading

Doreen Lawrence