Re: What is justice?

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993, has investigated human rights abuses around the globe, with special expertise on issues of justice and accountability for atrocities committed in the quest for peace; military conduct in war under the requirements of international humanitarian law; counterterrorism policy including resort to torture and arbitrary detention; the human rights policies of the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations; and the human rights responsibilities of multinational businesses. Mr. Roth has published more than 100 articles and chapters on a range of human rights topics. Before joining HRW as deputy director in 1987, Mr. Roth was a federal prosecutor for both the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

When I think of justice, I think of something that’s not all that much different from respect for individual rights. Now in this respect though, I speak not simply about the civil and political rights that for, I think, many Americans are conjured up by the concept of rights. It’s not simply the rights that are in the U.S. Constitution that is to say, but also some basic economic justice. Some basic respect for what are known as . . . as economic and social rights in the international realm. But that is to say at the minimum, the provision of the necessities of life – the housing, the food, the medical care and like – that allow people to exist and live with some basic dignity. So I do think that with that holistic concept of rights, that there’s not all that much difference between justice and respect for rights. But I do think to . . . to equate the two, you have to move beyond the more procedurally oriented rights of, say, the U.S. Constitution – the civil and political rights – and look at some of the more substantive rights of . . . of what are known as economics and social rights.

Recorded on: 8/14/07


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