© Università degli Studi di Padova - Credits: HCE Web agency
Charter 77 and Charter 08: Power of the Powerless for the Enhancement of Universal Law
Power of the Powerless is the title of a famous book written by Václav Havel. The author of the present essay argues that precisely exercising that kind of power it is possible to achieve lasting results in the field of human rights promotion and protection. Charter 77 contributed to accelerate the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia and in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Charter 08, due to the initiative of Liu Xiaobo, is currently promoting and nourishing in China and outside a culture based on universal values such as human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles. The essay discusses in a comparative way the content of both documents also in light of their respective followup, which in the case of Charter 08 is an obviously expected one. The follow-up is in terms of an ongoing «constitutionalisation» process of national legal systems in a historical context marked by the primacy of the international law of human rights over internal law. In 2012 Charter 77 is thirty years old, Charter 08 is five. These anniversaries bring the attention to an incoming anniversary of a paramount importance: in 2015 the Magna Charta Libertatum will celebrate its 800th birthday. The author imagines that this event would provide the opportunity to convene all the Human Rights Charters that were born along centuries, as living benevolent creatures. Hopefully it would be a «Charters Convention» that will address the crucial issue of how to strengthen the human rights machinery worldwide in light of a world order that should be consistent with purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.