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


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