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  • 24 mars 2022 > 25 mars 2022
    Campus Tertre
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This Conference will look into and discuss the links between Euroscepticism and attitudes to human rights protection in the United Kingdom. Brexit is indeed the outcome of a deep, longstanding Euroscepticism which has not only been targeted at the European Union, but also impacts on where the United Kingdom stands in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and to the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated the Convention into domestic law.

While the UK was a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights from the outset (in 1950), the Human Rights Act, which was adopted by Westminster in the first year of the Labour Government of Tony Blair, and came into force in October 2000, made the rights protected by the ECHR enforceable in the British courts. 

The HRA has repeatedly come under attack from the Conservative Party, and since 2006, the party has made clear its intention either to repeal the law or, at the very least, amend it. However, David Cameron’s coalition government did not act on its plans to replace the HRA with a UK Bill of Rights, and the issue was subsequently overshadowed by the EU referendum and the Brexit negotiations. Finally, in December 2020 - twenty years after the HRA came into force - the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IRHAR) was set up by the Conservative Government of Boris Johnson with the remit to review the operation of the HRA and potentially put forward options for reform. 

While certain individual rights and liberties – such as freedom of movement within the EU – have already been undermined as a consequence of Brexit, which has also put an end to the UK’s commitment to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, the willingness on the part of the Government to challenge a law which is instrumental to the protection of human rights in the UK, has given cause for major concern within NGOs as well as among parliamentarians. Besides, public debates on the impact of Euroscepticism on human rights protection have evidenced major disagreements between the British government and the devolved institutions, which has raised questions about governance and democracy.

Will such divergences threaten the Union, already undermined by Brexit? To what extent have the commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act reinforced human rights protection in the UK? What could be the impact of their being replaced with a British Bill of Rights, as advocated by the Conservative Party? 

The Conference organisers are particularly pleased to be able to welcome to the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Cultures in Nantes distinguished academics, from French and British universities, who will shed light on, and discuss, all these issues, from a range of different perspectives – whether that be that law, history, political science, or media studies. 

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