The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Kingdom Law

By David Harris; Sarah Joseph | Go to book overview

Preface

This book is the final result of a project generously funded by the Airey Neave Trust to conduct a study of the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in United Kingdom law. The Fund appointed Sarah Joseph as an Airey Neave Research Fellow to work on the project in the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre for the academic years 1992-3 and 1993-4. The first result of the project was a conference held in the Parliament Chamber, Inner Temple, London in September 1993 at which the relationship between Covenant standards and United Kingdom law in the particular areas of non-discrimination, the administration of justice and the emergency in Northern Ireland were considered.

The present book takes the matter further by comparing United Kingdom law with the standards set by the Covenant across the board. The exercise is thought to be worthwhile because the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is the leading UN treaty instrument concerning civil and political rights and because little attention has been given to the United Kingdom's obligations as a party to it. Although the United Kingdom would appear to comply with most of the undertakings of the Covenant, the studies conducted in the chapters of this book suggest that there are exceptions, some clearer or more important than others. What the book also demonstrates is that there is a good case for the United Kingdom to accept the right of individuals to bring claims against it alleging a breach of the Covenant: the guarantee in the Covenant is sufficiently different from that in the European Convention on Human Rights to make this a valuable additional remedy. The fact that the Covenant guarantee is more extensive than that in the European Covention also suggests that the Covenant should be taken into account when the text of any national bill of rights for the United Kingdom is drafted.

The editors would like to take this opportunity to thank the authors who have contributed chapters to the book; individually and collectively, their contributions provide a unique record of the United Kingdom's state of human rights health as measured against international standards. The editors would like to thank Jim Murdoch, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, University of Glasgow, for contributing text or information on the law of Scotland for a number of chapters, as indicated in each. They would like to thank the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the considerable trouble that they took to answer a number of queries. They also would like to thank Mrs Jan Goodman, secretary in the Law

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