The United Kingdom Confronts the European Convention on Human Rights

Donald W. Jackson

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"Provocative not only in its own right but in terms of advancing discussion of the U.S. and international action on human rights. The author has read a large amount of material about the European Convention on Human Rights, from both primary and secondary sources. To this he has added material on U.S. and British constitutional law. The result is a stimulating and wide-ranging discussion."--David Forsythe, University of Nebraska

Donald Jackson investigates the United Kingdom's surprisingly dismal record of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. During the first thirty years of the European Court of Human Rights (1959-89), the UK was found in violation of the Convention more frequently than any other country, and its violations have continued apace in the 1990s. Jackson traces the source of the problem through the UK's lack of judicially enforceable rights law to the application of executive/bureaucratic discretion under UK law.
In order to examine "discretion" in this context, Jackson focuses on various ways in which UK authorities have dealt with four specific issues: the problem of terrorism and of due process issues involved in the UK's efforts to counter it; the rights of inmates in UK prisons; problems of nationality and immigration; and freedom of expression, particularly that of the press relative to the conduct of trials and to national security issues. His study illuminates the interworkings of British democracy, political culture, and "officialdom."
Jackson demonstrates the status and perception of the Convention in UK courts by concluding with an analysis of the references in UK judicial decisions to the European Convention on Human Rights. Having suggested the reasons why the UK legal and political establishments so often fail to recognize and enforce rights, Jackson goes on to review various proposals for the development of an effective rights document and enforcement mechanism in the UK.

Donald W. Jackson is Herman Brown Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University and author of a number of books, most recently Even the Children of Strangers: Equality under the U.S. Constitution (1992) and Presidential Leadership and Civil Rights Policy (coedited with James W. Riddlesperger, Jr., 1995).

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"a valuable resource to the scholar and the graudate student researching the current status of civil rights in the UK."
--British Politics Group Newsletter

"In this well-documented, clearly written study, Jackson . . . shows how humanr rights principles, as contained in the European Convention, have brought 'some measure of accountability to those who exercise power and discretion in the United Kingdom' . . . The result is about as good a study as can be imagined, making a clear argument that a written charter of rights - exemplified by the European Convention - would be appropriate for incorporation into British domestic law. . . . Many international law and human rights specialists will find this important work valuable."

"A timely publication as the United Kingdom prepares to undertake the large project of incorporating the ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] into domestic law . . . provides a serious and well informed analysis." -- John F. McEldowney, University of Warwick
--Political Studies

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