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Human rights in the UK: from political aspirations to binding legal norms

Speaker: Professor David Feldman, Legal Advisor to HOP Joint Committee on Human Rights
Chair: Professor Peter Townsend, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
October 2002

The place of human rights in the UK has been transformed over the past decade. Human rights law, which previously bound the State in international law but had little direct impact on national law or politics, have increasingly become part of the mainstream of both law and politics within the UK. As a result, politicians, public administrators and lawyers have had to adjust to the realisation that human rights are not merely vague aspirations, but have a solid underpinning of legal doctrine (both substantive and procedural) and technicality. The seminar will consider how politicians, administrators and lawyers are responding to the challenge of this new body of law.

David Feldman, BCL, MA, FRSA, has been Legal Adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in the Houses of Parliament and Professor of Law in the University of Birmingham since 2000, and will become an international judge (part-time) of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina with effect from the autumn of 2002. He has published extensively, particularly in the fields of constitutional and administrative law, criminal procedure, and human rights, and is the author of The Law Relating to Entry, Search and Seizure (London: Butterworths, 1986), Criminal Confiscation Orders - The New Law (London: Butterworths, 1988), and Civil Liberties and Human Rights in England and Wales (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993; 2nd edn 2002) as well as being joint editor (with Frank Meisel) of Corporate and Commercial Law: Modern Developments (London: LLP, 1996).