Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Human Rights and Just War

Last night's meeting at the Severn Forum was one of the best I've attended.

Nicholas Mercer, formerly a lawyer and a soldier, now an Anglican priest, was until fairly recently advising the army's top brass about human rights: chapter and verse he gave us for why they count in today's world: a masterful lesson!

Starting with the Athenians' massacre of the unarmed Melians in 416 BC, he took us through the Beatitudes, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Grotius and Henri Dunant to George W. Bush and Death on the Rock. Thucydides' Melian dialogue should have warned us of the whirlwind we would reap - and are now reaping - from Abu Ghraib. If international law means anything, it's that the United States' military paradigm is illegal.

And we are complicit in this illegality, having allowed 1500 rendition flights to touch down in the UK. But where is the Church's prophetic voice in opposition to the chorus of those wanting to repeal the Human Rights Act? It's time, Mercer said, for a Christian to stop trying to be the referee and to start getting involved as a player.

All good stuff - and no time left (he tells me) for a mention of nuclear defence, drones, disinvestment, environmental justice, non-violent direct action or Pax Christi!

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