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U-Tube Course in Human Rights

A condensed version of “Human Rights, What Are They Really?” has been uploaded to U-Tube as a short course in human rights. It is in 3 segments-

Segment 1: Elements of a right and natural rights

Segment 2: Subsidiary rights

Segment 3: Comparison with prevailing human rights doctrine

Go to:

      Segment 1:

      Segment 2:

      Segment 3:

A 4th segment is planned and will appear later in the year.


Filed under: Notices, Uncategorized | March 4th, 2016

Reply to linkedin art. Are Human Rights and Democracy Universal Concepts?

A concept is more than a thought, it is a constructive thought. “Universal” means applicability all over the world. Pythagoras’ theorem is universal because it can be shown to be true anywhere in the world (or the universe for that matter). An acceptable theory of human rights must have that kind of claim to absolute truth to be classed as universal. One must be able to show to any reasonable person in the world that it is true. The UHDR cannot reasonably make that claim because articles 22-29 were rights simply invented by idealists in accordance with their personal morality and values. However,  morality and values vary from one person to the next and more so from one culture to the next. Then we come to the various religions, each of which has their own morality code. Therefore, these articles cannot be shown to be universally true. The claim that the UDHR has universal application is true only in regard to the articles that meet the above requirement.
Re democracy: it means the method of government that requires decisions to be made by the majority vote of the people in the jurisdiction or their representatives. As it is practiced in the Western World the government has the power to regulate any human activity by this method. I believe this power should stop at the offence of any group’s or any person’s rights. The most usual rights that are presently trampled on are property rights. Remember that in a democracy the authority of the government is the will of the majority. That raises the question of whether or not the majority in a population has the right to ignore the rights of a minority or even a single person. An affirmative answer is a slippery slope down which even civilized nations have slid at particular times to indefensible actions. My answer is negative, which causes me to say that the only proper application of democracy is in deciding what to do with what is owned in common. That is actually much more than is presently conceived. In my theory of human rights, per “Human Rights, What Are They Really?”, the population of a country owns in common all that Nature/God provided, both above and below the ground. They also own the government in common. That is why the government is accountable to the people.
About Islam, this religion puts optional beliefs, that is, beliefs that cannot be proven but rather are simply chosen as truth, above rights of the individual that can be shown to be true. Therefore, I see no reconciliation between Islam and true fundamental rights.

Filed under: Uncategorized | March 3rd, 2016

Dignity and Freedom in the Eyes of the Law

The decision by the US supreme court was apparently based on the mistaken notion that marriage is a government institution and consequently every citizen has an equal right to it. Actually, marriage was created before recorded history as a ritual that unites a man and a woman. It has followed this pattern for millenia. Therefore, it is a de facto heterosexual institution. Any government that wants to expand it to include homosexual couples should first obtain the permission of the heterosexual population. Only then may they legislate the expansion of marriage. If the permission is refused then the homosexual population, having the same right as the heterosexual one, may create an institution like marriage but called something else. That is what equal right really means.

By the way, I see dignity as a common value, not a right. Respect for a person as a human being is a right. So much confusion about these things!

Filed under: Comments on News Stories | June 27th, 2015

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About The Author

Robert Stephen Higgins was born into a coal-mining family in Nova Scotia but grew up mostly in Southern Ontario. In 1964 he graduated from the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering and began his engineering career in the aero engine and aircraft fields. This included a period at the Boeing Airplane Company in Seattle as a material stress analyst on the 747 jetliner project. Worried that aircraft design projects were too discontinuous for raising a family he moved to the power industry. Through the 1970’s he was a design and project mechanical engineer on new oil and coal-fired power stations in Canada and the USA. Much higher pay and adventure called to him in taking a project engineering position for the construction of a nuclear power station in Argentina. He remained in the Canadian nuclear power industry as a design engineer until taking early retirement in 1999. Afterwards, he completed two consultant contracts in the nuclear field, the latter taking him to South Africa to manage a mechanical engineering department on a project to design and build a demonstration pebble-bed modular reactor (nuclear) which, unfortunately, was cancelled in 2008.

Robert was not just an engineer, however, but an interested student of the whole human story. History and archaeology were fascinating subjects, but closer to home the direction in which politicians, judges, and others in positions of power were taking society was of more serious concern. A public confrontation with the president of the large company (23,000 employees) for which he worked was a tipping point. Robert suggested that the employment equity program which the president was promoting would discriminate against white males. The president replied that he did not care if it did, he was going to implement it anyway. Reflecting on this interchange afterwards, Robert concluded that employment equity programs were more about designing society than about individual rights.

After retirement, he applied his long experience with objective analysis to discover what human rights really were. His book Human Rights, What Are They Really? was published in late 2008. More writing is ahead amid efforts to advance his own technical projects.

In April, 2014, Robert became a member of the board of the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa.