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Brexit white paper commits Govt to European Convention on Human Rights

12 July 2018

The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty which Member States of the Council of Europe have signed, including the UK.

See more about Brexit and Human Rights

Read our Brexit manifesto: The implications of Brexit for disability rights: Influencing future debate and policy

The Convention sets out a list of the rights and guarantees (Articles and Protocols) which the States have undertaken to respect.

The convention was originally proposed by Winston Churchill and was drafted mainly by British lawyers.

The Government has re-affirmed, in its policy white paper The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, that it “is committed to membership of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)”

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) hears cases related to the European Convention on Human Rights. These decisions are not binding but our Human Rights Act (HRA) states that UK courts “must take into account” any judgment, decision, declaration or advisory opinion of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Government has stated that it plans to replace the HRA with a British Bill of Rights but we do not know when that will happen. It is also not clear how a British Bill of Rights would apply to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The reference to the European Convention on Human Rights is in section 5 of the white paper concerning the UK’s vision for the future security relationship with the EU. Clause 5e states the relationship should:

“be underpinned by appropriate safeguards: respect for human rights, comprehensive data protection arrangements and robust, appropriate governance arrangements. The UK is committed to membership of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The UK also has very high standards of data protection in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive, and intends to remain a global leader on data protection standards. The UK’s approach to data protection is set out in chapter 4.