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Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy

For 800 years, Magna Carta has inspired those struggling for rights and freedoms, and many of its core principles are echoed in contemporary human rights legislation. Here Professor Hugh Starkey explores Magna Carta’s legacy as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.Magna Carta symbolises resistance to tyranny and arbitrary rule. US President Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945) cited it in his inauguration speech on the spirit of democracy in 1941.[1]Magna Carta, as a pre-cursor to universal human rights, has been an inspiration for those struggling for justice and freedoms across the world. When on trial for his life in South Africa in 1964, Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) invoked Magna Carta and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in his statement from the dock.[2] In his struggle for human rights, Martin Luther King (1929-1968) cited the Magna Carta principle ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied’.[3] Building on the legal legacy of Magna Carta, historic and contemporary struggles now are able to use the language of human rights. There is not a single ideology of human rights, but human rights are important in many political, philosophical and religious traditions.