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."