The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests

ISBN : 9780199547395

Elizabeth Wicks
288 ページ
162 x 238 mm

The right to life is a core human right which has not yet received the detailed legal analysis that it requires. This book provides detailed, critical analysis of the controversial human right to life and, in particular, assesses the weight of conflicting interests which could and/or should serve to override the right. This contemporary study of the right to life focuses on the legal, as well as ethical, issues raised by the value of life in modern day society. It seeks to analyse the development, meaning and value of the fundamental human right to life in the context of its conflicts with other competing interests. The book begins with an overview of the right to life in which the concept of life itself is first analysed, before both the right and its legal protection and enforcement are subjected to historical, philosophical and comparative analysis. The remainder of the book identifies, and assesses the merits of, various competing interests. These comprise armed conflict; prevention of crime; rights of others; autonomy; quality of life; and finite resources. The right to life is unusual in having potential application to so many of today's ethically controversial questions. This new work investigates specific topics of current political, legal and ethical concern such as the right to life during international conflicts, the role of lethal force in law enforcement, the death penalty, the right to life of a foetus in the context of legalised abortion, and the significance of quality of life and autonomy issues in respect of euthanasia and assisted suicide.


1. An Introduction to the Meaning of Life
2. The Right to Life: Religious, Philosophical, and Legal Origins
3. The Enforcement of the Right to Life
4. The Right to Life in Times of War or Armed Conflict
5. The Right to Life and Prevention of Crime: Killing by the State as Punishment and/or Deterrence
6. The Right to Life and Conflicting Rights of Others
7. The Right to Life and Autonomy
8. The Right to Life and the Quality of Life
9. Protecting the Right to Life with Limited Public Resources
10. Conclusion: The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests


Dr Elizabeth Wicks is a Senior Lecturer in Birmingham Law School at the University of Birmingham. She has published widely on various aspects of constitutional law, human rights law and medical law. She is the author of two previous books: The Evolution of a Constitution: Eight Key Moments in British Constitutional History (Hart Publishing, 2006); and Human Rights and Healthcare (Hart Publishing, 2007).