Free speech as a foundation of human rights

Experts widely agree that no single human right stands above all others, a view bolstered in recent decades by the ‘indivisibility’ principle. In this presentation it is argued that such a principle is misguided, because it fails to distinguish between state-monopolised, managerial regimes of goods and citizen-directed regimes of human rights. Throughout history, countless justice systems have included various means of delivering human goods, but only free speech can convert human goods into objects of human rights. Failures of international rights regimes are commonly blamed on lack of political will or on insufficient resources; however, insofar as international law has failed to acknowledge the foundational role of free speech, the prevailing regimes cannot be called human rights regimes at all.