The Human Rights Act 20 years on: reflecting on past achievements and future prospects in the context of Brexit
The Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into British law in 1998, is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary in a very peculiar context. Although the act has been denounced by the Conservative Party from the moment it came into force in October 2000, it seems to have been given an unexpected reprieve: indeed, since the summer of 2016, the Conservative project of repealing the Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights has been eclipsed by the more pressing issue of Brexit, which is now the top priority for Theresa May's government.
The jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights is undoubtedly perceived by the Conservative Party as in intolerable encroachment upon the sovereignty of the British state, all the more so as the Court has ruled that UK law was in breach of the Convention on several occasions.
It must be kept in mind that the European Convention on Human Rights emanates from the Council of Europe and not from the European Union, and as such is theoretically not affected by Brexit. However, one may wonder to what extent the desire to leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights could be seen as part of a wider trend of rejecting the authority of European supranational institutions, and whether the Human Rights Act could be carried away by the current wave of Euroscepticism in the UK.
Furthermore, the prospect of the repeal of the Human Rights Act, like Brexit, has created tensions between the British government and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To what extent has the Human Rights Act enhanced the protection of human rights in the UK, and what could be the impact of replacing it with a British Bill of Rights? Moreover, should the question of the repeal of the Human Rights Act be seen as a threat to the Union between the four nations of the United Kingdom, in the same way as Brexit?
For a full version of the call for papers, please click here.
The conference will be held on 26th-27th April 2019 at the University of Nantes, France - Faculty of Modern Languages, Foreign Literatures and Histories. It is organised by the Centre de Recherches sur les Identités Nationales et l'Interculturalité and Alliance Europa.
Papers may be presented in English or French. Please send a 500-word abstract of your proposal and a short CV to Charlotte Barcat (Charlotte.Barcat@univ-nantes.fr) or Annie Thiec (Annie.Thiec@univ-nantes.fr) by 7th January 2019.
Annie Thiec, Senior Lecturer in British politics (University of Nantes, France)
Charlotte Barcat, Lecturer in British politics and history (University of Nantes, France)