Law and society blog

Human Rights conference with many well known speakers was held at Tallinn University

06.10.2017 12:07:20

Human Rights in the 21st century. Human rights will play a bigger role in everyday life than ever before. That is the reason why we need a lot of researchers to dig into the basics of the law and see how can we make the human rights even better. HURMUR (Human rights – mutually rising excellence) -Conference had gathered 21 different human rights topics into an exciting three-day conference.

We attended the conference with five newly-started law student. Within these 21 issues, we had the pleasure to hear the countless amount of leading researchers around the world specialized in the fields of these newly acknowledged or debated human rights examples related to these different categories.
The subjects were discussed in a theoretical way and in most cases going deep into philosophical concepts.  The way these experts talked to each other, it was a pleasure to watch.
These topics for complete newcomers were a lot to handle. During a three-day conference, we got a small and quick but fascinating review of these 21 selected points to get more information on what these “new” rights are, the origins of the right, how it have practically worked before, and what role it could play in the human rights law.

The numbers of human rights have grown exponentially in the last few decades. Researchers have invested in the interpretation of the rights to get fit into today’s life. For example, the amount of information we get from the internet and social media is outstanding, and public awareness of the people rises all the time. What are the risks that increasing use of the Internet and social media could cause in people’s life how it will affect their rights? An example topic at the conference was Right to Internet Access, held by Professor Oreste Pollicino from Boconi University. His researching area includes Media Law, Internet Law but also European and Comparative Constitutional Law.

Social media and information retrieval will bring in to my mind the current situation and problems with the natural phenomenon and consequences related to them. More interesting topics and excellent presentations related to these were: Right to water (Danwood M. Chriwa from University of Cape Town and Pierre Thielbörger from Bochum Ruhr University), right to housing and to land (Miloon Kothari, UPR Info) and right to a clean environment and rights of the environment (Günther Handl from Tulane University). All of these subjects are in a way or another from time to time in the news in a questionable light. Why cannot we provide everyone with these natural human rights? I can’t answer that, but maybe we will start researching the issues behind these things. Which way the world is slowly moving and where do we draw the line that we want to see a change.

One of our students, Melanie had very interesting points after Thursday seminars. About the ‘Right to bodily integrity’ which was held by Dr. Adrien M. Viens (University of Southampton) and Thomas Douglas (Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics), for example, if a leg gets surgically detached from our body will that part of our body hold rights to bodily integrity? Until when do we have the right to bodily integrity?

One of the subjects we heard there was Animal Rights, it is consistently under the radar while watching the news what are the rights that animals have and who is looking after their rights. Animal rights were one the subject that got Melanie thinking even after the event was long over, in the sense that until when we humans will act as the owners of the earth, deciding over life and faith of some species. This subject was personally appealing to her.
We couldn’t stop thinking that maybe this is the way how laws are made, people completely immersed on the subject go around the law in question with all possibles variables. The conference did give it best to us, at least it made us think that this might be the career that some or most of us will be doing in the future.

Text created by Mikko Hintsa, the law student in Helsinki at School of Governance, Law and Soceity
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