Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK Parliament

As the UK Conservative government steps up its campaign to reform UK human rights law, which will potentially significantly change the UK's relationship with the European Court of Human Rights, there is bound to be an upsurge in political claims about the Court and what it does. My recent paper considers the ways in which UK politicians frequently misrepresent and misunderstand the Court and examines the consequences of this. 

Here is the abstract:

There is widespread and growing mistrust of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the United Kingdom (UK). In response to what can be seen as the progressive ‘folk deviling’ of the ECtHR in the UK, the aim of this chapter is to explore how beliefs about the ECtHR are created and sustained. To achieve this aim, the chapter focuses attention on beliefs about the ECtHR that are expressed by members of the UK Parliament. Through an analysis of parliamentary debates, the chapter examines how parliamentarians discursively represent their beliefs about the ECtHR and how these beliefs come to achieve degrees of collective acceptance among MPs and Lords. As the analysis of parliamentary debates shows, the ECtHR is often depicted as a biased institution that poses a risk to the human rights of large sections of the UK population. If it is accepted that parliamentary discourse has an influence on wider public perceptions and opinions, then the beliefs expressed by parliamentarians that are outlined in this chapter should be of concern to anyone with an interest in encouraging a balanced and informed understanding of the ECtHR among the population of the UK.

The paper can be found here:

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