Rights, Issues and Prospects

  • Malcolm Slater
Part of the Contemporary Language Studies book series (CLS)


The French Revolution of 1789 was above all the assertion that human rights ought to be defended against the use of arbitrary power, and the picture of France as a haven for those who are the victims of the arbitrary exercise of power, and as the country of human rights, survives in international opinion. But in the second half of the twentieth century, Western democracies can be said to have derogated in practice from the highest standards of protection of human rights to which in theory they subscribed. This was because they came to perceive that the major threat to their value systems, or in starker terms to regime survival, came not from defeat in war, but from the activities of internal groups whose ideological dissent was too great for institutions to absorb. In France, derogations in this sphere serve to reinforce the vigilance of groups for whom the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man remains a real point of reference, and to underline the fact that imperfections exist in the array of dispositions by which individual rights are intended to be defended.


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© George Malcolm Slater 1985

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  • Malcolm Slater

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