London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Bill of Rights Consultation

The Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute (HRSJ) has contributed to a consultation on a new Bill of Rights for the UK, arguing that a convincing case has not yet been made as to why the UK needs one and urging that any new human rights law should extend rather than restrict existing protection under the Human Rights Act (HRA). The submission is based on research conducted by HRSJ on the processes used to develop Bills of Rights in the post-war era. A key finding of this research was that no process to create a Bill of Rights  in a democratic nation has permitted even the possibility of going backwards, rather than forwards in the protection of human rights.

The consultation was run by an independent commission established by the coalition government to investigate the creation of a UK Bill of Rights. The commission's work takes place against a background of political and media attacks on the purported impact of both the HRA and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  HRSJ's submission argues that this climate of hostility, combined with ill-informed and partisan debate about human rights, creates unfavourable conditions for a constitutional reform project of such significance.

HRSJ's submission also addresses the other aspect of the work of the Commission on a Bill of Rights, which is to advise the UK government on options for reform of the European Court.  The submission notes that reforms to the European Court system are undoubtedly needed, to reduce the backlog of 153,000 cases. It advocates an evidence-based approach to the analysis of the effectiveness of recent reforms and also of any reforms proposed in future. It argues that the system for the implementation of Strasbourg judgments needs to be overhauled and strengthened, since one of the greatest problems facing the Court is the number of similar cases being brought, sometimes in their thousands. This reflects the failure of many states to resolve systemic or widespread violations at the national level. The submission underlines the importance of the European Court as a safety net for victims of human rights violations across Europe and urges that any future reform must preserve the independence and integrity of the Court.

Download the HRSJ response to Commision on a Bill of Rights discussion paper


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