UK membership of the ECHR: continuation of ‘unfinished business’ or a window of opportunity?

18 May 2017.pngThis post proceeds on the assumption that the Conservatives will win the June election, with their manifesto commitment that withdrawal from the ECHR (‘BrECHRit’) will not occur in ‘the next Parliament’. It is submitted that such a scenario poses a threat, but also offers a window of opportunity. The threat is that there will be a continuation of what we have seen since around 2012 (if not before): the implied threat to withdraw, and heated anti-Strasbourg rhetoric every time UK-Strasbourg relations come under strain (with damaging effects on the ECHR). The opportunity is that we now have a period to push forward the case for the UK’s continuing membership of the ECHR, based on careful and informed analysis of the Strasbourg system as it functions today (not one based on dated or false narratives) and affects the UK. This information can then be drawn upon for when debate on the UK’s membership of the ECHR resurfaces, which, I contend, is highly likely to happen – unless arguments are presented in a convincing way to stop that.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

With the Conservative Party well ahead in the opinion polls, the publication of their manifesto today was met with a sighs of relief by human rights lawyers in the UK, and in Strasbourg. It states that: Continue reading

Implementation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

bing 15 mayThank you very much indeed to the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (working with Leicester Law School) for hosting a highly interesting and informative event on the state of play regarding execution of Strasbourg judgments. The event was last night, and, I believe, a summary will appear on the Bingham web site in due course.

Merris Amos (QMUL) presented a insightful paper focussing in UK cases, against the backdrop of UK-Strasbourg relations and the domestic landscape of human rights protection; in her paper Eleanor Hourigan (Dep Permanent Representative, UK Delegation to the CoE) offered some insiders’ perspectives on the Committee of Ministers’ process ; Nuala Mole (Aire Centre) provided reflections on her long experience as a Strasbourg litigator, offering some suggestions on areas for improvement; and Prof Philip Leach EHRAC/ Middlesex University added to those perspectives with some important and graphic illustrations of why the process of execution is so important, and the challenges being thrown up.

In between I presented a paper with my own reflections on matters, especially with an eye to the Committee of Ministers’ 2016 Annual Report on the execution of judgments. In case it is of interest, here is the PowerPoint presentation that I used: E Bates Implem Judgments Bingham

‘Implementation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: Opportunities and Challenges for the Rule of Law’ (Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law), 15th May 2017.

bing 15 may

On 15 May 2017, the Bingham Centre and Leicester Law School are organising an event in London, focusing on the implementation of the Court’s judgments.

Speakers at the event will discuss the UK’s record of implementation and the impact of the Court’s judgments in the UK. They will consider the UK government’s recent report ‘Responding to Human Rights Judgments’ which outlines its position on the implementation of the Court’s judgments and responds to recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its 2015 scrutiny report ‘Human Rights Judgments’. We will also hear a UK government perspective “from the inside” on the Committee of Ministers and its work supervising the execution of judgments.

Speakers will then consider the wider picture of implementation across the member states and will reflect on the process for the execution of judgments and the role of the Committee of Ministers in this regard.

Further details of the event, including the speakers can be found here: https://www.biicl.org/event/1258

Download the event flyer.

Unpatriotic swipes at the Court? Separation of powers and international human rights control

bihr_side_large

There was a very interesting event yesterday at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, on the topic of ‘Adjudicating Rights’. Professor Kate O’Regan opened and chaired the event, which included presentations from Judge Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque (European Court of Human Rights) and from Professor Jeff King (UCL). It was an excellent event, very thought-provoking and well received by a good audience in attendance. The event was ‘videoed’, so hopefully we can look forward to seeing that on the web, and perhaps my stumbling question to the panel will appear on it – or be edited out!

The reason I wanted to write this post is as follows. Often when attending events like yesterday’s I ask a question related to the limitations on the Court’s jurisdiction and authority. Sometimes I feel that such questions are perceived as an unpatriotic swipe at human rights, and the Strasbourg Court (which is certainly not my intention; indeed, quite the contrary, for I wish to see the Court preserve its authority, by it recognising the limitations that should (in my opinion) apply to it).

I make this point generally here, and not in relation to yesterday’s event, and, to be clear, at all events the speakers have always been extremely respectful and polite in their answers and generous with their time afterwards (as was so yesterday). Nonetheless, given the topic of yesterday’s event, which also touched on ‘separation of powers’, it seemed appropriate for me to write these thoughts down .

Here, then, are some thoughts Continue reading

Theresa May: to remain faithful to ‘the basic principles of human rights found in the original ECHR’?

durantiThis is a slightly modified version of a book review of Marco Duranti, The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention, Oxford University Press, 20 Dec 2016 (it was originally published on the Lawfare website). In a work of great depth and incisive analysis Duranti looks back to the mind-set of those Conservative politicians in the UK who backed the Convention in 1950. His account should give pause for thought for today’s Conservative politicians advocating withdrawal from the ECHR and advancing a self-righteous, ‘Britain-knows-best’ view in relation to what is portrayed as a meddling Strasbourg Court.

***

An election is due to be held in the UK on 8 June 2017. We await the Conservative Party’s manifesto, and there is a real sense of anticipation regarding what it may say about the UK’s membership of the ECHR.

That is because last December the British press reported that the UK Conservative Party may include a commitment for the UK to withdraw from the European Convention Continue reading

Beslan school siege – some extracts from the judgment

1409610965614_Image_galleryImage__BESLAN_RUSSIA_SEPTEMBER_Today’s Chamber case (here) has been in the news today, and rightly so given the countless tragic human stories behind an event which left 180 children (plus many others) dead.

The purpose of this short post is to highlight certain features of the judgment and their legal significance (I do not claim to have read the whole judgment, but have scanned over it, and what follows is, of course, non-exhaustive).

A first point, aside from the actual judgment itself, is to note that one of the groups of applicants were represented by EHRAC/ Memorial Human Rights Centre (London/ Moscow). We may ponder on the significance of that as we read about Russian crack downs on NGOs working in the human rights field (see, eg, here).

Second, anyone doubting the level of detail Continue reading