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world news
Top 10
human rights issues for the century

by Father Charles Irvin

The fight for human rights will be fought in this century. New technologies and an ever-changing world will force societies to continue to deal with issues of human rights. That’s why we have assembled a list of the top10 rights issues for the century.

1 Ownership of genomes The United States Patent Office is already granting ownership rights to private, for-profit corporations to own genes and various combinations of genes. They are also being given “cloning rights” over all living creations resulting from the manipulation, exploitation and usage of those genes.

2 The unborn as patients and as recognized legal persons It is possible to sue health-care providers for negligence and malpractice should they in any way injure an unborn fetus. Criminal actions can be successfully prosecuted if an unborn fetus dies as a result of an attack upon its mother. A child, by being in its mother’s womb, can inherit property from a decedent’s estate. The result is that the foundation for the Roe v. Wade decision will continue to be challenged.

3 Frozen human embryos The ownership
and control of human embryos is a legal issue that needs to be settled. What rights does a man have whose sperm fertilized the woman’s egg ?

4 Workers’ rights Globalization of business
entities will weaken the protection of workers’ rights. What jurisdiction will global conglomerates fall under? Who will regulate them?

5 The death penalty Capital punishment is under attack with new evidence demonstrating that innocent people are being executed. Illinois has put a moratorium on the death penalty. Will the practice be considered a violation of basic human rights?

6 The environment Further increases in
global warming will bring reduced levels of precipitation and more droughts. That, combined with continued waste of our natural resources, will increase demands for access to fresh waters like the Great Lakes.

7 The right to a world passport Living in the rapidly developing “global village,” to which country do I owe my allegiance? I want a world passport to replace my own nation’s passport. Now I am living on a multinational space station. From where do my fundamental human rights come? Who protects my legal rights?

8 Minority rights Minority rights may not be an
issue because of the blending of cultures and
races. According to some predictions, there will be no more minorities

9 How many body organs? We can replace
more and more of our body’s organs. At what point am I no longer the person I was when I was born because I am now composed of many different body parts gleaned from any number of other people?

10 Fetal and pre-fetal bioengineering
- who is my God? It is the year 2076. Whoever “I” am, I’m the complete product of total genetic engineering. My genomes were selected and chosen by my creators. I was conceived in a petri dish. I went through my entire gestational period outside of a human womb and was “born” when I was taken off of artificial life support systems in a natal room. Who is my mother? Who is my father? And who created me - who is my God?

- Fr. Charlie Irvin