The European Convention is not the only international human rights agreement to which the United Kingdom and other like-minded countries are part. However, over the years with the rise of democracy, it has become one of the premier agreements in defining standards of rights across Europe. It was also for many years unique because of the system, which it put in place for people from signatory countries to take complaints to Strasbourg and for those complaints are to be judicially determined. The rights and freedoms which are guaranteed under the Convention are ones with which the people of this country are plainly comfortable. They therefore afford an excellent basis for the Human Rights Bill, which was introduced in October 1998.
However, does the Human Rights Act 1998 promote or hinder democracy?
The Human Rights Act is different from other laws. It promises that the state will respect the rights and freedoms of the individual in a number of areas such as education and family life.
It may be fair to claim that it is the closest thing we have to a Bill of Rights in the UK, and is relevant to all of us.
The Human Rights Act is not just about going to court, it can act as a (standard) framework of rights, a set of principles that everyone can agree to, a way of protecting the individual and persuading public bodies to act fairly. The principle behind the implementation of the Bill of Rights is that citizens can only be fully guaranteed their liberties in a democratic society once they are removed beyond the reach of government by use of the bill to identify and preserve them. Furthermore, a constitution and bill of rights, which enshrine Human Rights Standards, have been established by international agreement. They could be...