Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Human Rights Day ~ 65 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

10th December - Human Rights Day.  In a letter to The Telegraph, leaders of many 'civil society groups' have urged that Britain stands firm on the European Convention on Human Rights and the  Human Rights Act. Both of these were inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The British Institute of Human Rights Press Release calls for leaders to stand firm on human rights at home.

It was 65 years ago, on 10th December 1948 that the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 'recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.'

In the UK,
the notion of human rights enforceable at law against the State has come under increasing attack from politicians including, as Lady Hale noted in her recent speech at Warwick, Ministers in the present government.  A number of judges have entered the fray by delivering lectures which are critical of the stance adopted in some areas by the European Court of Human Rights.  This blog has looked at some of those speeches recently. 

Nelson Mandela Statue - Parliament Square London
The present system of right protection within Council of Europe member States has done much to enhance rights across the 47 member States of the Council.  The UK is a founding member of the Council.  British lawyers were largely instrumental in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights.  The Human Rights Act 1998 has enabled convention rights to be asserted and enforced in our domestic courts and has given human rights a strong foothold in national jurisprudence.  There is much here to be proud of and we should be very careful about adopting changes.  Any change proposals should be thoroughly assessed to see where the resulting balance between individual and State is likely to be.  I my view, proposals should be rejected where there are not clearly going to be beneficial to the people.

Writing in The Guardian 10th December, former President of the European Court of Human Rights (Sir Nicolas Bratza) expresses his disappointments and hopes with regard to human rights protection in the UK.  "The fight to preserve the Human Rights Act and to keep the United Kingdom within the convention will be a hard one, but it is one worth winning. It is more than that. It is a fight that must be won."

Lady Hale on Human Rights Law

Thoughts on the Hamlyn Lecture by Lord Justice Laws

a look at Lord Judge's entry to the competititon

My thoughts (as a citizen) on Lord Sumption's Azlan Shah lecture - This post was reproduced by LEGAL BUSINESS on 10th December (Human Rights Day 2013)

Sumption and Laws - background notes

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