London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Human Rights and Social Justice in the UK

Four projects awarded in 2011/12 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC):

Developing a Human Rights Practice Observatory – Guidance Review

Review of European Court of Human Rights judgments

Understanding Equality and Human rights in relation to Religion or Belief

Developing a Human Rights Practice Observatory

August 2011, Practical guide to human rights produced at LondonMet

The institute also conducted three other research projects for the EHRC - examining the impact and implementation of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and proposals for developing a new Bill of Rights for the UK. Each of these were conducted in partnership with Global Partners and Associates.

Human Rights Act

The first project, commissioned in January 2008, produced the Scoping Report for the EHRC’s statutory inquiry into the state of human rights in Britain It explored the effectiveness of the implementation of the HRA within public services in Britain by means of interviews and roundtable discussions with policy makers, practitioners and academics making key contributions in the field.  

The central finding of the report is that a culture of respect for human rights has largely failed to take root among public authorities in Britain in the way that was anticipated when the HRA came into force in 2000. The report identifies striking exceptions to this trend: public authorities that have systematically applied human rights to their work with benefits for both staff and users of public services.

The second project, commissioned in April 2008 evaluated the impact of selected strategic legal cases brought under the HRA and in Strasbourg on public services.  It explored with service directors and frontline practitioners whether and how the principles established in these cases had been incorporated into policy and practice – and if not, why not. The research team found a striking variety in the nature and extent of the impact of each case. The report analysed the reasons for this variation and explored the methodological challenges in identifying the impact of any single legal case in a complex policy environment.

Both reports were published to coincide with the launch of the EHRC’s Human Rights Inquiry report on 15 June 2009.

Bill of Rights

The EHRC commissioned research to identify processes for creating a UK Bill of Rights that would be most likely to engender a sense of popular ownership and democratic legitimacy.  The project influenced debate at a critical juncture ahead of the general election in May 2010.

The research analysed the processes used to create Bills of Rights in other Commonwealth jurisdictions and identified key principles that might underpin any future process in the UK. The research team proposed that the process should be non-regressive, since no other democracy has used the creation of a Bill of Rights to dilute existing human rights protection. Further, it should have transparent terms of reference; be run by a body independent of government and should place the highest premium on eliciting the views and experience of those whose human rights are most vulnerable to being breached.

The research concluded that the UK political parties had yet to make a convincing case for the development of a new Bill of Rights and that public understanding of, and enthusiasm for, such a Bill is not assured. Further, devolution presents considerable legal, constitutional and political obstacles. The research was inter-disciplinary in its engagement with scholars and practitioners concerned with human rights, consultative and deliberative methodologies and other aspects of democratic practice.

A detailed research report Developing a Bill of Rights for the UK, was launched on 1 March 2010 at a debate hosted by the EHRC on the future of the Human Rights Act in Britain and proposals for a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.  

A seminar was held at London Metropolitan University, generating debate between academics, civil society groups, policy makers and the human rights commissions in the UK. 


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