Self-Defense and Human Rights

A Canopy Forum Thematic Series
June–July 2020

This series features Dr. David Little’s unified theory of human rights based upon the personal and collective right of self-defense. Little’s central claim is that that key words in the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights point to the right of self-defense “against tyranny and oppression” as the moral and legal foundation of human rights, and account for the “organic unity” of the formative instruments: the Universal Declaration and the two Covenants on political, legal and economic, social, and cultural rights.  The series features learned responses from several leading scholars in international law, human rights, and law and religion that raise important questions about the implications and possible alternatives to Little’s theory.  Together, these discourses open a robust conversation about what international human rights law means, where it comes from, what it demands of the community of nations, and what alternative frameworks may be available by reference to non-Western normative traditions.  Stay tuned to Canopy Forum this August as David Little responds to many of these commentaries on his work.

The Right of Self-Defense and the Organic Unity of Human Rights

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV


David Little

A Non-Theoretical Justification of Human Rights:

A Response to David Little’s The Right of Self-Defense

Part IPart II


T. Jeremy Gunn

Self-Defense and Human Rights:
David Little Responds

Part IPart IIPart III


David Little