Case Study: The Right to Life | Samuel Moyn | June 28, 2016


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Case Study: The Right to Life

by Samuel Moyn Show/Hide
In this first case study, we will be exposed to many things in advance of learning about them systematically, such as the structure of human rights enforcement and the process of evaluating claims in the Human Rights Committee (which, as we will learn later, monitors a treaty called the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). You can simply register the importance of knowing these things later, but bypass them for now, in order to focus on the topic of this case study: what is a right in general, and what is the right to life in particular?

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  1. 3 Show/Hide More Human Rights Committee (HRC), Pedro Pablo Camargo v. Colombia, Communication No. 45/1979, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/OP/1 (1985)
    Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
    Your main focus in reading this document is twofold. First, what happened? Second, what is a right (specifically, the right to life), such that the state might have violated it? Of less importance is the great deal of procedural detail — you can skim the parts of the decision that spell out what happened to the complaint (though we will still cover it to get an early sense of what kinds of processes human rights law can prompt).
  2. 4 Show/Hide More Human Rights Committee: Ms. Yekaterina Pavlovna Lantsova v. The Russian Federation, Communication No. 763/1997
    Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
    Again, your main inquiry in reading this case is to think about what the scope of the right to life is, and more generally what a right is – how do we think about its content and what effects invoking seem to have.
  3. 5 Show/Hide More Supreme Court of India, Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, AIR 1986 Supreme Court 18 (1985), excerpt
    Similarly, in this case (in a national constitutional court) we are interested in the substance and scope of the right to life, and more generally how best to think about what a human right is.

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August 26, 2016

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Samuel Moyn

Harvard Law School

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