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Call for Papers on the Global Convergence of Civil and Human Rights

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (www.bcri.org) has put out a call for papers on the theme of “A Single Struggle: The Global Convergence of Civil and Human Rights” for its upcoming conference May 1-2, 2008 in Birmingham Alabama. If you are interested in presenting, submit a 1-2 page abstract and curriculum vita to Dr. Horace Huntley at hhuntley@bcri.org by December 15, 2007. Papers should be no more than twenty minutes in length. You can expect a response to your submission no later than January 15, 2008. Read on to see the themes of the conference:

Over the course of the 20th century, many individuals and groups have achieved profound social changes in the name of human rights. National liberation movements drove out colonial powers; labor unions established the right to organize; women succeeded in gaining the vote. In the United States, African Americans sought and achieved relief from oppression in many of its various forms.

While these accomplishments are the results of struggles for the protection of humans, civil and human rights have evolved as distinct privileges accorded to the world’s people. Many scholars consider civil rights to be those liberties bestowed by nations on citizens within their territorial borders, while human rights are rights individuals possess by virtue of membership in the human race. “A Single Struggle” will examine those societal attributes that have evolved into the accepted differences separating civil rights from human rights. Invited scholars will address these and other issues relating to the similarities among human struggles in the international arena.

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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  1. Stephen Buckley says:

    I’m so glad to see that *somebody* understands that these terms (“civil rights” and “human rights”) are NOT synonomous.

    Our county government has a “Human Rights Commission” and, at one point, they were going to have a discussion about the difference between these two types of “rights”.

    But now, it appears, that they do not want to “go there” as they would prefer the public’s misconception that anything considered by them to be a “human right” is also a “civil right” (i.e., a right protected by law).

    If they did cite a difference, then they would have to admit, to the public, that *some* of the “human rights” to which they often allude have no basis in law.

    And then that would mean, of course, that they (the local H.R.commission) could no longer imply that there is something *illegal* about anything that THEY perceive as violating “human rights”.

    As it is now, if they (as a government agency)point to something as violating “human rights”, it is assumed that there is some legal basis for it.

    But, in reality, that is only the case when it concerns a “civil right”. Therefore, to name any government agency as a “Human Rights Commission” (or similar) is misleading, as they only have the power of law concerning “civil rights”.

    If anyone knows of any other links concerning the difference between “civil rights” and “human rights”, I would appreciate them sharing it with us here.

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