The right to life in the international law of human rights : looking beyond the horizons
There is a ‘right to life’ Article in a number of international and regional human rights treaties which is not currently being employed to give the full potential effect to the right. There are issues arising ‘beyond the horizons’, particularly with regard to the identity of the rights-bearer, the ‘human’ in the international law of human rights, that fail to be addressed by a restrictive interpretation. For instance, a failure to recognise the human represented by human genetic material and to record it the respect called for by an expanded notion of human dignity has implications for the future, when ‘new humans’ – clones, hybrids, chimera – might enter the realm of created beings, with, it is argued here, a valid claim to respect for their human rights entitlements, including that their right to life shall be protected by law. In order to establish the potential scope of the right to life treaty provision, the texts are introduced and a case is made for the validity of a dynamic and evolving interpretation of the right, the ‘living instrument’ approach, within the international legal framework established by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The human identity is then examined across a number of disciplines, as well as in law, in order to challenge an interpretation that places any requirements on the rights-bearer of ‘personhood’. The proposed solution is to argue for broader definitions, both of the human and of the life protected, than is currently the case, and for a greater realisation of what is at stake in human rights jurisprudence regarding the right, involving issues of the moral nature of the protecting law. A failure to realise and act upon the issues raised will allow intolerable injustice to be perpetrated.