I was listening to a DVD given to me by my brother-in-law (thanks Ben) in which the speaker was talking briefly about human rights and the fact that rights, on their own, are relatively empty. That without a solid underpinning, they become rather subjective.
As I was thinking more about the point, I came across a relatively recent (2005) book by Thomas WIlliams on the topic of human rights from a faith perspective. As a book I had not see before, I perused it and found it very insightful. I also found a nice summary of the book in the journal FIrst Things from the year 2005.
What I like about the author is that he makes human rights, sometimes an elusive concept, relatively easy to grasp (although the 300+ page book is, at times, rather academic). The author agrees with Pope John Paul II when he stated, "a person's rightful due is to be treated as an object of love." The author writes that a right, considerably different than defined by Websters Dictionary, is "the moral capacity to claim from another what one deserves." And what one deserves is love.
As the author points out, Jesus stated that one of the two greatest commandments is to "love your neighbor as yourself." So, as the reviewer in First Things states, "we must will for our neighbors things that are truly good for our neighbor's own sake." The commandment to love one's neighbor shows the inherent dignity of all people and their "intrinsic lovableness." So, Williams argues, this Biblical love is the most basic human right, the very basis of human rights. Without this foundation, the concept of rights, Williams argues, falls apart and becomes simply subjective.
Thomas Williams' book, "Who is my neighbor?" is a solid read both providing the Biblical perspective and some insight into the language of human rights. I have not yet read the entire book, but I plan to.