The modern human rights movement, like American bioethics, was born from the devastation of World War II. The multinational trial of the major Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg following World War II was held on the premise that there is a higher law of humanity (derived from natural law rules based on an understanding of the essential nature of humans), and that individuals may be properly tried for violating that law. Universal criminal law includes crimes against humanity, such as murder, genocide, torture, and slavery. Obeying the orders of superiors is no defense: the state cannot shield its agents from prosecution for crimes against humanity.
Annas, G. (2006), "Chapter 1: The Statue of Security: Human Rights and Post-9/11 Epidemics", Balint, J., Philpott, S., Baker, R. and Strosberg, M. (Ed.) Ethics and Epidemics (Advances in Bioethics, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1479-3709(06)09001-7Download as .RIS
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