The Legal Protection of Human Rights: Sceptical Essays

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Tom Campbell, Keith D. Ewing, Adam Tomkins
Oxford University Press, 2011 - Law - 522 pages
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Reacting to the mixed record of the UK Human Rights Act 1998 and similar enactments concerned with the protection of human rights, this book explores ways of promoting human rights more effectively through political and democratic mechanisms. The book expresses ideological skepticism concerning the relative neglect of social and economic rights and institutional skepticism concerning the limitations of court-centered means for enhancing human rights goals in general. The contributors criticize the 'juridification' of human rights through transferring the prime responsibility for identifying human rights violations to courts and advocate the greater 'politicization' of human rights responsibilities through such measures as enhanced parliamentary scrutiny of existing and proposed legislation. This group of twenty-four leading human rights scholars from around the world present a variety of perspectives on the disappointing human rights outcomes of recent institutional developments and consider the prospects of reviving the moral force and political implications of human rights values.

Thus, contributors recount the failures of the Human Rights Act with regard to counter-terrorism; chart how the 'dialogue' model reduces parliaments' capacities to hold governments to account for human rights violations; consider which institutions best protect fundamental rights; and reflect on how the idea of human rights could be 'rescued' in Britain today. In addition, the book considers the historical human rights failures of courts during the Cold War and in Northern Ireland, the diverse outcomes of human rights judicial review, and aspects of the human rights regimes in a variety of jurisdictions, including Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Canada, Europe, and the United States.

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About the author (2011)


Educated in Britain, Tom Campbell was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling and Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow before being appointed Professor of Law at the Australian National University and then Professorial Fellow in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) at Charles Sturt University. He is the author and editor of several books, including Seven Theories of Human Society, Rights, and Justice.


Keith Ewing is Professor of Public Law at King's College London, and is one of the country's leading civil liberties lawyers. He is the author of Freedom under Thatcher: Civil Liberties in Modern Britain (with Conor Gearty) and his other books include Bonfire of the Liberties, The Right to Strike and The Struggle for Civil Liberties (also with Conor Gearty).


Adam Tomkins has held the John Millar Chair in Public Law at the University of Glasgow since 2003. Prior to that he taught at St Catherine's College, Oxford, and at King's College London. He is the author of a number of books, including the Clarendon Law Series title Public Law and also British Government and the Constitution (with Colin Turpin).

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