Right to life

The right to life is a right that is defined differently according to the time and place.

So historic , it is the right not to be killed. This right is at the origin a mere general disapproval of the homicide . The right to life can be summarized in this definition to “Thou shalt not kill” of the Decalogue Jewish and Christian . This view was taken up in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

Subsequently, the right to life was invoked to protect the citizen against what he considered “legal murder”, in other words: the death penalty . Some pacifists have by the same reasoning used the right to life to fight the war which would be “the right not to kill anyone and not to be killed”.

The right to life is sometimes invoked to promote euthanasia . This is the “right to a decent life”. For others, such a provision would amount to legalizing eugenics and assisted suicide . This same argument is also used against euthanasia on the grounds that one can not choose to kill someone.

The right to life is also used as a right to be born . The right to be born can serve as an argument to defend the right to be born of girls , but also to prohibit abortion . Opponents of this view argue that a fetus is not yet a person. Since the right to life protects individuals, it is necessary to determine when this individuality is created: at conception, at delivery, at a moment between the two. The Americans talk about pro-life or pro-choice .

Very specifically, the right to life can be used to defend animal rights and fight against the breeding for the purpose of eating animals. The advocates of this theory consider that animals should have the same fundamental rights as human beings : we speak of specism .

Evolution of the right to life

The following definitions have been validated by some legislation.

Right to life, disapproval of homicide

The Decalogue Christian in his classic translation reads “Thou shalt not kill”, but the translation of Andre Chouraqui “You do not assassineras” gives another interpretation of this commandment 1 . It is a more complex legal concept, which does not prohibit homicide in war, self – defense , or the death penalty imposed by a regular court.

It is this definition of the right to life that was repeated in 1776 in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence of the United States :

“All men are created equal;
They are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights;
Among these rights are life, freedom and the search for happiness. “

As in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 :

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. “

Right to life, disapproval of illegitimate violence

It was in 1950 , with the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights by the Council of Europe, that this right was slightly modified. The Article 2 , entitled ‘Right to life’ and provides:

“Article 2 – Right to life #The right of every person to life is protected by law. The dead can not be deprived of his life intentionally save in execution of a death sentence imposed by a court if the offense is this penalty by law. #Death is not considered inflicted in violation of this Article in cases where it results from the use of force absolutely necessary: ​​## to defend anyone against unlawful violence; ## to make a regular arrest or to prevent the escape of a person regularly detained; ## to repress, in accordance with the law, a riot or insurrection . “

Main article: Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights .

In other words, the Convention prohibits homicide but authorizes the death penalty, self-defense, and death to protect security. Compared to the previous definition, the difference is that violence must be justified. This justification will be increasingly hard.

It is this justification of violence will lead the United States to ask whether the 8 th Amendment which prohibits “cruel and inhuman punishment” makes the death penalty unconstitutional . The Supreme Court suspended the death penalty throughout the country from 1972 ( Furman v. Georgia ) to 1976 ( Greg v. Georgia , reversing the previous one).

Right to life, disapproval of the death penalty

Under Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (adopted in 1985), the death penalty is outlawed except in the event of war or insurrection, Protocol No. 13 abolishes it completely. At present, in the majority of European States (43 signatories) the death penalty is therefore abolished because of the right to life.

Other definitions proposed

The following definitions have been proposed but have not been validated.

Right to life, right to be born

The right to life from conception is recognized by many texts. Some may have wished to use them to prohibit abortion .

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (also known as the International Convention on the Rights of the Child), adopted in 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly, prohibits the death penalty for children and provides, in particular, States Parties recognize that every child has an inherent right to life. ”

In France, the Veil Act of 1975 proclaimed in its article 1: “The law guarantees the respect of every human being from the beginning of life. This principle may be infringed only where necessary and in accordance with the conditions laid down in this Law. ” Abortion was designed as an exception to the right to life.

A similar provision has since been adopted in the Civil Code in Article 16  [ archive ] : “The law ensures the primacy of the person, prohibits any attack on the dignity of the person and guarantees the respect of the human being from the moment The beginning of his life. ”

Right to life, right to a decent life

The right to life has already been used to invoke a right to die ( euthanasia ) or rather a right to a decent life. The human being in full disposal of his faculties having the right to decide his destiny.

This argument was raised in the Diane Pretty case before the European Court of Human Rights on But was refused.

Right to life, end of the animal genocide

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Notes and references

  1. ↑ It is not written Lo taharoġ , verb used especially when Cain kills Abel , in Ge. 4, 8 , but Lo tirḥaḥ .