Human Rights in the United Kingdom

Human Rights in the United Kingdom

Human Rights in the United Kingdom

Human Rights in the United Kingdom


Central to any discussion of the present status of the idea of human rights in the United Kingdom is the incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights. Incorporation has widespread support, and such support should be accompanied by informed debate. In this stimulating collection of essays, contributors such as Lord Bingham, Lord Lester QC, Andrew Marr of The Independent, and Ronald Dworkin, the highly respected legal theorist, present their arguments in favour of incorporation. The expression of their informed opinions and points of view results in a lively and readable book.


We want to present, in accessible form and to as wide a public as possible, the important arguments in favour of the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into our law. With a General Election close, we want there to be an informative but non-technical book which clearly and interestingly looks at the arguments concerning incorporation and does so in a manner suitable for the general but well informed reader. There is not easily available, and in one place, a statement of what those in favour of incorporation are actually saying and how they deal with the various arguments opposed to them. Furthermore a copy of the Convention itself is not easily found save within specialist titles on sale in legal bookshops, and even those are not easy to locate. This is remarkable. There is great interest in the issue. Two out of the three main parties support incorporation and recent opinion polls show that about 80% of the public support it. A collection of essays which deals with these matters fills a real gap in the available literature on the subject of human rights generally.

Incorporation is not an academic or a lawyer's issue. It goes to the heart of the relationship of citizens to the Government and, increasingly, to the relationship between citizens themselves.

We thought that the question of incorporation should be approached from different perspectives, and not only from lawyers. The contributions from Andrew Marr, Editor of The Independent, and Bill Emmott and David Manasian , Editor and writer respectively for The Economist, give the debate the added dimension that such important figures in the field of political journalism can give.

Andrew Marr's essay considers whether we need more than ratification but additionally a Bill of Rights of our own, looks back in time at the origins of rights-based politics and then ahead at the future of the "rights agenda" in Britain. He sets out three criteria for the creation of new rights: consensus, affordability and clarity and closes with the suggestion that duties of citizens could be usefully appended to a new Bill of Rights. The question of there being imposed upon citizens duties as well as their enjoying rights is explored in other essays.

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