Fred Thompson vs. The UN's anti-self-defense campaign

Earlier this week, Sen. Fred Thompson wrote to Field & Stream magazine, criticizing the UN's campaign against the human right of self-defense. The Thompson campaign touted the letter on its website, and the letter got a favorable reception among many pro-Second Amendment bloggers.

The Thompson letter, including its quotation of the great Dutch philosopher of international law, Hugo Grotius, appears to have used as a source the Kopel/Gallant/Eisen article "The Human Right of Self-Defense," which is forthcoming in volume 22 of the BYU Journal of Public Law. (We're in the middle of the cite-check right now, so the draft on my website is not the final version. And kudos to the BYU staff for its hard work on a monstrous cite-check with hundreds of sources, many of them not in the collection of an ordinary law library.)

Sen. Thompson's letter prompted criticism from Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly and Stephen Benen, both of whom relied on a refutation written by UN Dispatch, a weblog funded by the UN Foundation.

Today, the Knoxville News reports that it was UN Dispatch that got the facts wrong. The Special Rapporteur's Report which Thompson criticized (and which was adopted and endorsed by a submcommission of the UN Human Rights Council) quite explicitly says that personal self-defense is not a human right.

It's been a long time since a major presidential candidate quoted Grotius, and my view is the more Grotius in America's public debates, the better. I hope Pufendorf starts to get some attention too.

It's rather telling that the UN's American defenders fail to directly address an indisputable fact: U.N. Human Rights Council's subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has endorsed a report denying the existence of a human right of self-defense, and the subcommission, pursuant to the report, has declared that all national governments are required by international human rights law to implement various gun control provisions--provisions which, by the UN's standards, make even the gun control laws of New York City and Washington, DC, into violations of international law because they are insufficiently stringent. (See page 14 of the draft BYU article.)