The Poetry of Rights

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By Charilaos Nikolaidis, Essex Law School

Human rights are not simply rights, they are also quintessentially human; and the human experience is filled with emotion. Dr Nikolaidis argues that human rights can be understood as emanating from emotions that we are perceived to share.

Art in general and poetry in particular can provide a great service in helping us explore and bring these emotions to the fore, thereby reinforcing the distinctively human character of human rights, while also enabling us to understand them as something more than moral or legal constructs.

The regulatory and legal facet of human rights is a fundamental aspect of democratic justice systems. But so is the personal, emotional facet, which prompts us to celebrate, communicate, debate and re-imagine the nature and content of human rights – within and beyond the courtroom – in a more empathetic and inclusive manner, with reference to the emotions that underpin them.

In his new article, published Open Access in the journal of Law and Humanities, Dr Nikolaidis advances the idea that a sharper focus on the personal facet of rights can help promote the regulatory one “by making the justice system more sensitive and responsive to the emotions of individuals, thus rendering it more open and relatable”.

The article can be accessed in full here.

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