The distinction between universal human rights and jurisdiction specific legal rights has existed from the earliest days of formal justice. The story ‘The Nights Mary Poppins Died’ provides a useful context for elucidating this distinction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the founding document of modern human rights doctrine. Framed in the aftermath of the Second World War, “it was composed by an international committee of experts representing a great range of ethical traditions. Although its members never lost sight of the political dimensions of their assignment, they made an extraordinary effort to understand each other and to identify common ground” (Beitz, 2003). While ‘human’ rights is meant to represent what is common among all peoples across the world, ‘legal’ rights on the other hand were narrower in scope, representing the local political and cultural sensibilities. This essay will attempt to do the same by way of discussing the rights . . . Read More
President Barack Obama recently struck down the Bush Administration’s ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information-the so-called “gag rule”. President Obama’s ruling has elicited both joy and consternation within US. Do those very different reactions indicate something about where people stand on issues of moral relativism? If so, explain; if not, explain why not?
One of the first acts of the new President Barack Obama’s is the overturn of the ‘gag rule’ which bans federal funding of international organizations that support abortion and family planning. This overturn is as much motivated by political reasons as it is by moral standards espoused by the new administration. For example, ever since its initial imposition under the leadership of Ronald Reagan the ‘gag . . . Read More
How well a business corporation performs in financial terms is significant for a broad group of people that includes potential/existing investors, creditors, employees or managers. With differing information needs and purposes, each category of stakeholders should be provided with data that is comprehensive, relevant and reliable, so as to allow an informed opinion to be reached on the corporation’s financial performance. However, all too often, the general public is left out of this equation. A corporation’s operations have direct and indirect effect on the general public, who don’t have a “stake” in the company in the conventional use of the term. Yet, business corporations are purely economic structures, whose sole purpose is profits and whose foresight stops with the next quarter. This essay tries to discuss the existing norms of accountability, its deficiencies and areas that need improvement.
The only document that a company in the UK . . . Read More
The American criminal justice system has adopted punitive measures of varying degrees, the harshest of them being capital punishment. Over the recent decades, the judiciary has decidedly moved toward incorporating more restorative measures in its sentencing. This is not applicable across the length and breadth of the country, as the conservative South is still differentiated by its unwillingness to abandon death penalty. Nevertheless, at least in the more liberal states of the Union, the judiciary is seen to promote community service or work release as a means of delivering justice. It was intended that such alternative sentencing will inculcate into the offending individual a sense of social responsibility and self-reliance. The rest of the essay will discuss the pros and cons of these alternative approaches to criminal justice, with a special focus on community work/service programs.
As a result of community work programs, the participant individuals undergo a personal . . . Read More
A careful assessment of the history of American judiciary reveals that the Supreme Court has played a significant role in helping move the nation toward progress. It also has to be admitted that the Supreme Court has at times been a barrier to progress, mainly because of its preoccupation with the technical aspects of constitutional law and the anxiety to protect the prevailing legal system. To its credit, the Supreme Court has handed many landmark judgments for American civil society including such verdicts as those in Rowe v. Wade (pertaining to abortion), Brown v. Board of Education (relating to racial . . . Read More
The scholarship of Brown, Bromley and Athreye present a detailed and analytical account of the relations between cultural claims, power and universal human rights. From a historical perspective, ever since the conception of geo-political organization through formation of nation-states, the notions of national identity have been at the forefront of politics. The roles of cultural and political history in constituting this national identity have been much debated. The rest of this essay will attempt to elicit the relationship between these concepts and their relevance in a world that is marching toward economic globalization.
To begin with, let us consider the controversy surrounding the design of the Australian flag. This case is representative of the ideological and power struggles that is rampant everywhere else in the world. The Australian flag evokes starkly different emotions from different sections of its populace. For the indigenous community, it denotes a . . . Read More
In the last decade or so, the applications of forensic science in criminal investigation have increased. For all sorts of criminal allegations, including rape and murder, the services of forensic scientists are being employed. The infiltration of forensic science into the field of criminal justice is so deep that courses in police academies have included it in their syllabus. While the academia is catching up with advancements in technology, the media on the other hand plays a role in popularizing forensic science for the general public. Television soap-operas such as E.R., NYPD, CSI, CSI Miami, Forensic Files, etc. and science based re-enactment shows such as Medical Detectives which reach a wide TV audience have brought forensic science into the mainstream cultural discourse.
While the application of scientific methods to criminal investigations have a long-standing historical association, recent developments in Genealogy and DNA mapping have had a profound . . . Read More
The debate surrounding the imposition of death penalty for grave offences had been a divisive issue in the American political realm. The 1972 verdict on the case Furman v Georgia is a landmark event in the history of the nation’s judiciary. The 5-4 verdict of the judges against its imposition had set a valuable precedent for states across the United States. The five judges who argued and reasoned in support of their opposition to this form of punishment were Justices Brennan, Douglas, Stewart, White and Marshall. They presented a very persuasive set of rationale to arrive at their inferences. The five justices first pointed to some problematic areas with the concept of the death penalty and later expounded on how its implementation would undermine the integrity of the constitution of the United States. Firstly, the following lines give a summary of the circumstances leading to the case:
Furman was convicted for the murder of the father of 5 children with the . . . Read More
The English law of the present day is the culmination of a long tradition of revision, appraisal and amendment. Historically, what comes to be passes as law is derived and influenced by a range of sources. The following essay will capture a brief outline of these sources in their order of importance.
European Community Law:
Britain has always been under the cultural and political influences of continental Europe. The domain of law is no exception to this rule. The number of legal words and phrases that are of non-English origin is a reflection of the importation of European law. For instance, such phrases as “status quo”, “de novo”, etc are of continental origin. So, the historical trade and fraternal relationships between different European Kingdoms have imposed a common sense of ethic across the European landscape. Any comparison between different Constitutions of present day European nation states will reflect this fact. The . . . Read More
Origins of International Law movements:
The concept of developing international law by bringing forth already accepted rules or through the design of new rules has a long history in international affairs. Prominent intellectual of the last century Jeremy Bentham proposed a system that would allow “codification of the whole of international law, though in a utopian spirit” (Lee, 546). Since then, many attempts have been made to achieve a comprehensive code of international law, with the help of various governments across the world. The prime motivating factor for world institutions to make progress with the codification movement arises from the belief that by having a framework of written laws and regulations, international disputes and conflicts could be resolved without resorting to force. Moreover, the torchbearers of the movement believed that “by filling existing gaps in the law, as well as by giving precision to abstract general . . . Read More