I renounce my human rights

The first online renunciation of human rights by an individual, written in the immediate aftermath of the Kosovo war. Since then, the crusade in the name of such liberal ideologies has intensified. The supporters of human rights believe that they are morally entitled to conquer the world - and they have begun to do so.

I renounce my human rights, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations.


By accepting human rights, my consent is no longer required for actions to protect these rights. It is in the nature of universal human rights that, once accepted, they are no longer subject to moral judgment. They are considered an unqualified benefit, for which consent is unnecessary. By accepting human rights I extend an open invitation to all other people, to protect and respect my human rights. If they do that, I can not legitimately claim that their action is wrong. In practice, I extend this invitation to those with the power to protect me.

In reality this has come to mean, that powerful states feel that they have been given a de facto invitation, to militarily intervene anywhere on earth. The logic of human rights facilitates military expansionism. Since they are considered a "right", no consent is necessary to declare them. Since they are considered universal moral values, no objection to their enforcement can be valid. And since they are universal, no person or group can opt out from this enforcement. In this way an ethic is created, in which a superpower can conquer the world, claim it had a moral duty to do so, and reject all criticism as inherently invalid.


The logic can best be illustrated by supposing that the United Nations declares a "Right to be Enslaved". If that Declaration was accepted as morally valid, then it would become a moral duty to enslave people. Allowing them to reject slavery would be wrong, since it would be an abuse of their "right" to be enslaved. I would have no ground to protest about being enslaved, since the slaver would simply respect my "right".

Any oppression can be reformulated as a so-called "right". In practice, the enforcement of human rights imposes the value system where they originate - the European liberal tradition, and especially Anglo-American liberalism.


The meaning of "protecting human rights" has been expanded without my consent, and in a way which I can not control. For instance in Kosovo, the NATO has allocated radio frequencies, and installed an OSCE mission with powers to licence radio and TV stations. The OSCE mission even specifies which music should be broadcast. There is no legal or other mechanism to challenge such decisions, which expand the definition of "protection". By agreeing to have my human rights "protected" by those powerful enough to do so, I have created a form of serfdom. In the end I must submit to whatever form of protection they choose.

Protecting my rights might involve total restructuring of society. Kosovo - a de facto UN protectorate - can be the model for anywhere else on earth, to "protect human rights". Yet if I have accepted protection, in any form chosen by the protectors, then I have no legitimate complaint when they "protect" me. The appropriate action is to renounce the system entirely.


If I accept that I may not renounce "rights", which were declared for me by others (before I was even born), then I have ceased to be a free individual with a conscience.


If Europe accepts "rights", which are declared for it by the United States, then it has ceased to be free.

Paul Treanor, 7 September 1999