8 April 2015


UN Photo/Albert González Farran
It is one thing to argue for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, but quite another to define the limits of those rights, particularly when they conflict. Areas where this happens become areas for controversy and pose a challenge in how to balance conflicting claims.

Does freedom of speech include the right to offend, to incite hatred or to infringe on the right to privacy for example? Abortion is another example of an issue that brings into conflict women’s rights and the right to life of the unborn child.

At the recently concluded session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva the UN Special Rapporteur on the Field of Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, attempted to strike the balance between the  need to recognize and reward human creativity and innovation and, at the same time, to ensure the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.

In presenting her report to the Human Rights Council, Shaheed expressed concern about the tendency of copyright protections to be strengthened with little consideration to human rights issues and made recommendations on how better to approach copyright law.

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