20 years of Human Rights Act

Eltham Hill School visit

On September 19th, we delivered another human rights workshop to A level students at Eltham Hill School, a girls school in south-east London. The students took a strong interest in issues relating to equality, the right against discrimination and the right to marry, looking into the effect that the ECHR has had in this domain.

On the British Bill of Rights debate, 66.67% of students expressed strong support for keeping intact the Human Rights Act. Only 13.34% agreed with scrapping the Act.

Elisa Musaj, an A levels student at Eltham Hill, said after the workshop:

“The Knowing Our Rights workshop was a good opportunity to get an understanding of the impact of politics on society. We learnt about the importance of human rights and we were also able to interact and ask questions to widen our understanding. The debate also gave us a chance to argue our views and widen our skills. Before the workshop, I had a general understanding about human rights and the impact they make on our daily life choices. The workshop opened our eyes to the importance of human rights and how different our lives would be if human rights were not put in place. It was very intriguing to hear the debate that occurs around human rights and also be able to debate it with one another. I really enjoyed the workshop and would recommend that others attempt to get more involved with politics”.


How criminal procedure thinks about international human rights

‘Law at Goldsmiths’ inaugural annual criminal justice symposium at the British Academy. Exploring how human rights impact upon criminal procedure.

This international, interdisciplinary, symposium will bring together criminal procedure, evidence and human rights experts working on domestic and international law, in Anglo-American and Continental legal systems and beyond as well as criminologists, judges, barristers, prosecutors, NGO experts and relevant stakeholders.

It will seek to flesh out the impact of international human rights theory and jurisprudence upon criminal evidence and procedure, focusing on a comparison between domestic and international human rights influences, in Europe and beyond.

It will do so against the backdrop of resurgent populist and nationalist threats, and attacks upon international law that undermine human rights’ ability to regulate the criminal process.

How domestic Constitutional Charters shape the nature, and operation, of criminal evidence and procedure, and domestic criminal justice systems, has attracted significant attention in modern criminal procedure scholarship. But the time is now opportune to also explore how these influences interact with regional or transnational human rights influences, where these exist, and what challenges might arise where there is no opportunity for such interaction.

The key ambition of the symposium will be to shed light, and generate cross-cultural debate, on how domestic and international human rights influences shape criminal evidence and procedure, and what are the cultural, institutional or socio-political conditions that may enhance their impact or undermine their effect, particularly vis-à-vis populist criminal justice rhetoric (see e.g. in Trump’s America) or legal isolationist trends (e.g. in the context of Brexit and the debate on UK departure from the ECHR).

For more information contact Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos at d.giannoulopoulos@gold.ac.uk


Date Time
27 Mar 2019 9:30am – 4:30pm
Law symposium: What has the ECHR ever done for the UK

Goldsmiths Law symposium at the British Academy exploring the ECHR’s effect on UK law vis-a-vis UK government hostility towards European human rights

On 9 November 2018, twenty years will have passed since the enactment of the Human Rights Act, which has incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK domestic law. But this anniversary will be marked by continued uncertainty about the future operation of the Convention in the UK.

The relationship of the UK with the European Court of Human Rights has become highly contentious in recent years, with the Strasbourg Court’s decisions on prisoners’ rights, whole life tariffs, deportation of foreign suspected terrorists and the action of UK military forces abroad generating fierce criticism from the tabloid press and even from (the Conservative-minded part of) broadsheet press (The Telegraph has characteristically called Strasbourg ‘the toxic European Court of Human Rights’). The April 2015 Conservative Party Manifesto contained the pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new British Bill of Rights. The 2017 Conservative Party Manifesto adopted a more nuanced, but equally hostile, approach to the ECHR:

“We will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway but we will consider our human rights legal framework when the process of leaving the EU concludes. We will remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the duration of the next parliament”.

This symposium will interrogate the UK government’s ECHR narrative that risks reducing human rights into commodities with a ‘use-by date’.

To provide a reliable, evidence-based, counterpoint, the symposium will adopt an article-by-article analytical framework that will seek to identify the Convention’s effect on UK domestic law; positive, negative or neutral?

The symposium will bring together academics from different disciplines, human rights experts, barristers, judges, Parliamentarians and third sector experts.

Presentations confirmed so far will include analysis on:

• the right to life;
• the habeas corpus’ application to cases involving life sentence prisoners, those detained on grounds of mental health, and, more recently, those detained as terrorist suspects;
• what Article 8 has done for privacy, and why this is at the root of the press’s hatred of the ECHR;
• the Convention’s effect on sexual orientation equality;
• the right against torture;
• the Court’s rich jurisprudence on fair trial rights and UK backtracking on suspects’ rights;
• the reverse question, of ‘what has the UK done for the ECHR’.

This symposium is taking place in the context of the Goldsmiths-based Knowing Our Rights research project, which aims to provide analysis, and to deepen and increase understanding, of the application of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the UK, based on academic scholarship and engagement with the public.

For more information on the symposium and ‘Knowing Our Rights’ contact Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos at d.giannoulopoulos@gold.ac.uk


Date Time
27 Nov 2018 9:30am – 4:30pm
Human rights masterclass for year 12 and 13 students – apply now
Goldsmiths, University of London This engaging session will delve into current hot topics in the field of Law, and provide you with a unique insight into the subject through the unique viewpoint of Goldsmiths, University of London.
Britain in Europe Open Society Foundation Goldsmiths University