Dignity & Democracy
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    New Working Paper Published on International Law in Human Rights cases before the UK Supreme Court

    Posted by cb683

    24 January 2024

    Christine Bicknell has published a working paper with Exeter Centre for International Law entitled ‘International Law in Human Rights cases before the UK Supreme Court’.

    The paper’s abstract:

    This paper critiques the manner in which the UK courts have approached international law in several recent cases relating to human rights. Pinpointing their present attitudes to various international sources of law, it enables us to establish international law’s reach into domestic law and its likely impact on future rights claims. Among the paper’s findings it is demonstrated that in recent years the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) in particular has shifted towards a restrictive approach to the international law sources it is willing to consider in rights cases. By its fidelity to a strong model of Parliamentary Sovereignty the UKSC has created these significant restrictions in approach and brought them into the common law. It is argued that such a restrictive approach in unnecessary to satisfy the UK’s constitutional rules. It is further argued that in several ways, including its rigidly formalist approach, the UKSC seems to have lost sight of the people behind rights claims. The paper highlights that there is a difference between domestic courts finding breach of unincorporated international norms, and enforcing those norms. It argues that there are several important advantages to an approach which would read, as far as possible, domestic law harmoniously with international rights norms. It further argues that an approach in rights cases which interprets law with compassionate priority to the weaker party – the rights-bearer rather than the state, – is appropriate.


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