The Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog officially launches this week. Timothy Endicott, Dean of the Oxford Faculty of Law, expresses his support and reflects on the Hub’s potential to advance the understanding of human rights.
I would like to add my welcome, and my congratulations to the director, Sandra Fredman, and the editorial team of Dhvani Mehta, Miles Jackson, Laura Hilly and Chris McConnachie. The Human Rights Hub is a focus for the Oxford human rights law community, and its purpose is to make connections around the world. We hope for participation (on the blog, in particular) from students, academics, and practitioners. The Hub already has over 70 members (including 29 Oxford University members) from 15 countries. Membership is growing each week, and includes judges, human rights lawyers, academics, graduate students, and policy makers. In addition to the blog, the Human Rights Hub will also be encouraging dialogue through the termly seminar series and an annual conference.
The Hub is devoted to the understanding and protection of human rights. We should work together, because the challenges to understanding are very many and very big. We have to grasp the ways in which social, economic, and political systems and forces and actors may treat people as less than fully human. We have to grasp the potential to achieve something better than that, through domestic, regional, and international political and legal institutions and processes. And we have to grasp the limits of those institutions and processes. We have to see when the laws and customs of different societies reflect reasonable differences in ways of life, and when they reflect culturally ingrained failures to treat people with dignity. We have to grasp what it means to be human, and what it means to have a right. These challenges can best be met through connections that enable people to benefit from the insight and the experience of others, and that is the hope for the Hub.
We also hope that better understanding will support the work of advocates and officials and practitioners in protecting human rights – in preventing atrocities, resolving and preventing armed conflict, fighting for responsible government, and helping victims of abuses to seek redress.