Repeal the Human Rights Act and Leave the ECHR? - Conor Gearty's challenge

In popular discourse, our international relations with two European bodies receive a great deal of attention: the European Union and the Council of Europe. My ideas here focus on the European Convention on Human Rights and not on the treaties relating to the European Union. It is, however, important to be clear on the distinction between the two institutions. 

Britain entered the European Communities (now European Union) when it signed an international agreement with the other members of the Communities in 1973. This agreement was allowed for in domestic law by the passing of the European Communities Act 1972. The European Union (as it is now called) is entirely separate from the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe was created shortly after World War II (May 1949) under an international agreement called the Treaty of London. One of the most important developments by the Council of Europe has been the creation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This international agreement is designed to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was established under Article 19 of the ECHR to ensure the rights set out under the Convention.

Below I propose fourth of four alternative ways of dealing with the European Convention on Human Rights under our new constitution:


  • The Human Rights Act (1998) could be repealed. Britain would withdraw from the ECHR. A new bill of rights would be enshrined in the constitution. 


Let us know what you think!


Conor Gearty 

edited on Mar 15, 2015 by Daniel Regan
No comments yet, be the first to post one!