Panel discussion on human rights

In his new study for Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, leading historian of ideas Sir Noel Malcolm considers European Human Rights law and finds it wanting.

The European Court of Human Rights, he argues, operates on principles that are incoherent and inconsistently applied; this means that in some ways it fails to meet the basic requirements of the rule of law. Over time, it has extended the scope of the rights in the European Convention far beyond their actual meaning, making tendentious use of what it calls the aims and purposes of the Convention. And as Human Rights law expands, it encroaches on areas of democratic decision-making that should be the responsibility of our elected legislature.

Sir Noel’s study indicates that something has gone badly wrong. To remedy the problem, he argues that Human Rights need to be rethought from their foundations. They are concerned not with everything that is morally important, but rather with essential limits on the use of state power.

This event addressed Sir Noel’s critique of European Human Rights law – and his robust conclusion that the UK ought to withdraw from the Convention. Above all it will examined his new approach to the nature of human rights and the place they ought to have in our constitution

Alongside Sir Noel, the panel discussion featured Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve, CH, CBE, FRS, FBA, FMedSci, former Chair, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Professor John Finnis, FBA, QC (Hon), University of Oxford, and Rt Hon Lord Phillips of Worth Martravers, KG, PC, Former President of the UK Supreme Court. It was chaired by Professor Richard Ekins, Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project.