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For week ended October 31, 1999 Posted 14 Nov 1999

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An LDS Constitutional Scholar on Human Rights (Scholar to speak on human rights)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

An LDS Constitutional Scholar on Human Rights (Scholar to speak on human rights)
Deseret News 25Oct99 A2
By Maria Titze: Deseret News staff writer

LDS Church member and constitutional scholar Ed Firmage spoke Tuesday, October 26th to the United Nations Association of Utah about his recent experiences speaking with the Dalai Lama on human rights and meeting in Geneva, Switzerland with the UN Subcommittee on Human Rights. Firmage is a University of Utah Law School Professor who is currently on sabbatical.

While in Geneva, Firmage was able to attend and participate in the committee discussions on human rights. "I was (in Geneva) first as a legal observer and a participant with speaking privileges," he said. "And then I gave the first speech to the full Subcommittee on Human Rights on what's being called the Decade for the Creation of Culture and Peace." He told the audience that laws can't successfully be imposed from outside, "If laws are imposed, even to create something as noble as peace in the next century, it doesn't work."

Firmage also learned a lot in the process about the extent to which human rights are violated. He was shocked by the stories of genocide and neglect that he heard while there. "There were stories of schools with just one, 30-year-old text, chained to a desk so it wouldn't be stolen, the only book available to teacher and students," he said. "Children as young as 8 are being drafted into armies to fight civil wars, or more accurately, into roving gangs that just prey on one another. AIDS is killing whole families in these countries, parents and grandparents leaving orphaned children."

While Firmage is best known as a constitutional scholar, he says his passion is really for human rights, "Constitutional rights and civil rights are really just a part of human rights. But human rights can never be taken away by a government or state. They can be transgressed, they can be violated, but never taken away."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information