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In this set of three essays, originally presented as the 2005 Hamlyn Lectures, Conor Gearty considers whether human rights can survive the challenges of the war on terror, the revival of political religion, and the steady erosion of the world's natural resources. He also looks deeper than this to consider the fundamental question: How can we tell what human rights are?
In his first essay, Gearty asks how the idea of human rights needs to be made to work in our age of relativism, uncertainty and anxiety. In the second, he assesses how the idea of human rights has coped with its incorporation in legal form in the UK Human Rights Act, arguing that the record is much better and more democratic than many human rights enthusiasts allow. In his final essay, Gearty confronts the challenges that may destroy the language of human rights for the generations that follow us.