OPBP Volunteer Wins Human Rights Essay Prize

by | Aug 25, 2015

Oxford Pro Bono Group fundee Michael Rhimes has won the essay competition run by UK human rights charity René Cassin.

The competition asked the topical question – ‘Religion and human rights – compatible or conflicting?’

Entrants were judged by Daniel Finkelstein, Associate Editor of The Times. Of Michael’s essay, Daniel said:

“Michael Rhimes had an extremely original and enjoyable approach and made sure not to dodge the difficulties of the topic. I thought it was very subtle and got to the heart of the matter.” 

Rhimes’s essay concludes:

“Rights may share a common source, but their practical application requires us to recognise the tension between them. Finding that meaningful core isn’t easy, but we will not get any closer by pretending that all rights and all interests sing in unison.  And this is not a cynical renunciation of rights. It is rather a recognition of the healthy dilemma that lies at the heart of rights-based discourse: rights clash and we must resolve this tension. In so doing, we avoid committing ourselves to aspirational but ultimately meaningless and self-referential slogans of “religious freedom”. We embrace the awkward reality that giving practical effect to rights requires us to accept they do not all point in one direction.”

Rhimes has volunteered for Oxford Pro Bono Publico and Oxford Legal Assistance.

His full essay is available to read here.

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