Commission on British Bill of Rights Debate

On 26 October, UCL’s Institute of Human Rights hosted a lively evening on the much-debated British Bill of Rights. The discussion included the current push by Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, to use the principle of subsidiarity to get more leeway for domestic interpretations of European Convention rights. Dr. Saladin Meckled-Garcia from the Institute described this as an unfortunate attempt to shift the meaning of subsidiarity from “primary responsibility for implementation to primary responsibility for interpretation” of convention rights. Colm O’Cinneide (UCL Laws) persuasively argued that expanding the margin of appreciation for Britain would open the floodgates for countries like Russia to limit human rights claims. Aileen Kavanagh (Oxford), also on the panel, warned that there was no legally expedient way to distance the UK from Strasbourg jurisprudence and described the Human Rights Act as Britain’s Bill of Rights. The discussion was provocatively reported in the Guardian the next day.* *Members from the Government’s Commission on a Bill of Rights attended the UCL Institute for Human Rights debate on 26 October, to hear speakers dissect a number of proposals.

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