1. microraptor says

    Boy, Patrick Stewart really looks like he was having fun with that.

    Side note, has he even aged since Star Trek TNG went off the air? Because seriously, he looks like he just said “okay, this is as old as I’m going to get” and stuck with it.

  2. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    Patrick Stewart + Monty Python for human rights. Fun and informative way to end the day.

  3. Bernard Bumner says

    The attack on the ECHR by the Tories is depressing. It should be celebrated.

    Ironically, given the actions of the man and given his status as an icon of the Right who are attacking it, it is Churchill’s greatest legacy.

  4. unclefrogy says

    typical conservative reaction and attitude except where they concede points in error.
    uncle frogy

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Yes Prime Minister. (…with a little Monty Python mixed in…)

    showing my age and fandom of weird little Brit sitcoms via PBS…

  6. throwaway, butcher of tongues, mauler of metaphor says

    Can someone who is good at making gifs get Patrick Stewart saying “Oh, fuck off!” at the end (with caption)?

    That’s just so much win.

  7. quidam says

    This makes as much sense as asking ‘What have the Ten Commandments ever done for me?”and then claiming that it’s only because of them that people are not killing and stealing.

    One could just as easily claim that without the Magna Carta (1215) we wouldn’t have the Right to a fair trial (Magna Carta, clause 39), protection from unreasonable search and seizure (Magna Carta, clause 28), The Bill of Rights (1689), the US Constitution (1797), the Declaration of the Rights of Man (France 1799), the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) all of which predate (and contributed to) the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Without the European Convention on Human Rights, Britain had already protected human rights. After all the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply to the USA but Americans have right to a fair trial, privacy, freedom from torture, freedom of religion, expression, discrimination etc.

    And let’s not overlook that even with the various human rights conventions, there are still plenty of people trying (and often succeeding) to whittle them away. e.g. Torture is clearly against the US constitution, the Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. It didn’t prevent the US government from performing it and it didn’t bring the perpetrators to justice.

  8. Nick Gotts says

    The difference between most of the documents and institutions you mention and the EHCR is that the latter has current legal force over a large part of the world. You can read about some of the cases in which individuals have had rights upheld against states here.

  9. Bernard Bumner says

    quidam @8

    One could just as easily claim that without the Magna Carta (1215) we wouldn’t have the Right to a fair trial (Magna Carta, clause 39)…

    No. It gave “free men” the right to a fair trial. In England.

    Clause 28 only permits that “no constable or bailiff of ours…” shall seize corn or chattels without payment.

    The provisions of Magna Carta are far too narrow to be considered human rights. Magna Carta might be the most currently overhyped document in English history, obscuring what was achieved over centuries of development of jurisprudence after it was published.

    The Bill of Rights is hardly a declaration of universal rights. And so it goes for your other examples, important as they are in history of the development of modern human rights.

    The power of the ECHR is that it grants universal rights, and that it does not grant states the ability to withhold the rights of groups or individuals, except within the narrow bounds required for justice. It is one of the few transnational rights agreements with an effective and impartial mechanism for enforcement.

    That is part of the reason that the ECHR was crucial to securing the Good Friday Agreement; it binds the PSNI and other public aithorities to abide by those rights. It further provides that they are overseen by a nonpartisan body.

  10. Who Cares says

    It is (quite) a bit more complicated then the punchline.
    The chair of the committee which wrote the ECHR was a Brit but the first draft was done by the French.
    Granted that was/is the result of politics. The first draft was a collaboration between the U.S., U.K. & France. It would be hard for the U.S. to hand in the first draft leaving the U.K & France. To improve the odds of it passing it was put on the table by France so that the chair could endorse it.

    In case people are wondering why the U.S. was involved, that is fairly simple ratifying the ECHR effectively prevented a nation from going communist in the way the Eastern Bloc had done.

  11. Who Cares says

    For the western allies it was. They saw the communist bogeyman everywhere and were quite desperate in keeping it at bay.

  12. Rich Woods says

    @throwaway #7:

    Can someone who is good at making gifs get Patrick Stewart saying “Oh, fuck off!”

    This is the Internet. Give it, oh, say 36 hours.

  13. quidam says

    Bernard Bumner @12

    My point is not that the Magna Carta was perfect, but that it was one of the first steps on the path to acknowledge that rulers are not absolute and govern within a framework that limits their powers.

    Nick Gotts@11

    The difference between most of the documents and institutions you mention and the EHCR is that the latter has current legal force over a large part of the world.

    Not really. It has no force outside of Europe – and my point is that even in countries where it is not in force, similar human rights documents are in force. The USA being a prime example. Did the European Convention on Human Rights give Americans Freedom from Slavery, Freedom of Religion, or Freedom of Speech? No of course not. It didn’t in the UK either, those existed already and were incorporated into the ECHR to reflect the then current state of societal consensus.

    The ECHR is not the end it’s simply another step on the way. For example the ECHR Court has so far refused to apply the protections of Article 12 (the right for adult women and men to marry and establish a family. ) to same-sex marriage. By the standards of 1953 that wasn’t considered a ‘right’ – indeed homosexuality in the UK only became decriminalized in the UK in 1967.

    None of these Human Rights documents have ever established rights – they have merely codified society’s acceptance (or non-acceptance) of behaviour into law.

    What ‘gave us freedom from slavery’ was not the ECHR, US constitution or the Slavery Abolition Act of1833; rather it was society changing to regard slavery as offensive – the laws, constitution and Acts of Parliament followed later.

    Mostly it has been a one way process of expanded rights – but there is a disturbing trend to reverse some of these ‘rights’ in the name of ‘security’ – and not just from with the GOP. This video was prompted by the UK conservatives threatening to leave the ECHR unless UK courts have the power to veto ECHR decisions they don’t like (i.e. selectively abuse human rights)

    The only thing that can prevent this abuse is not the ECHR, rather it’s the will of the British electorate not to let the bastards get away with it – just as in the US, American voters have to prevent the Bushes, Trumps, Cruzes and even Obamas from abusing rights, breaking treaties and ignoring the constitution

  14. Bernard Bumner says

    quidam @18,

    Europe is a large part of the world, and that is the point. Other nations have various forms of bills of rights, but they don’t have transnational treaties to which such large groups of signatories are party, and with such a robust mechanism as the ECtHR to provide rulings on compliance with that treaty.

    It is not simple, particularly in light of the HRA, for the UK government to ignore rulings of the court. It is the case that both the Scottish parliament and the Good Friday Agreement are predicated on the existence of the ECHR. The Supreme Court of the UK (and High Court of the Judiciary) already have ultimate power within the UK, and even to rule counter to ECtHR decisions. They are merely bound, by the HRA, to take into account any rulings of the ECtHR, to the extent that they consider them relevant. However, the HRA also provides that Parliamentary Sovereignty is ultimate, already allowing Parliament to decide whether or not to amend any laws which are incompatible with the HRA or the Convention. The Tory rhetoric on the ECHR is largely just bluster, ignorance, and populism, all doomed to fail because there is no realistic method for withdrawal from the Convention without fundamental change in the politics of the UK as a whole, but particularly Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is also doomed to fail because there is nothing to be achieved by it. The courts have a long and proud history of ignoring political influence in the UK, to stand apart from and keep check upon the executive body.

    It is true that legal frameworks to protect rights are instruments of the will or people, but is also true that once they are established, they cannot be easily cast aside. They also serve to moderate the debate.

    The ECtHR is not perfect. The failure to apply protections to same sex marriage are an obvious fault, and one reflecting the uneasy union that underlies the ECHR. But that also hints at the great power of the convention; that it works generally well despite the fact that different countries, cultures, political creeds, and changing governments are bound by it. It has been a mechanism for lasting peace in Europe, and for progressive cultural change, where the court has often provided protection in spite of popular or powerful opposition.

  15. Nick Gotts says

    Not really. It has no force outside of Europe – and my point is that even in countries where it is not in force, similar human rights documents are in force. – quidam@18

    I suggest a glance at the map in the link I already provided, and at the cases I already referred to – even Russia has been wary of simply thumbing its nose at the court’s rulings. The EHCR area is also by far the biggest area in which the death penalty has been effectively ended. Of course it’s not perfect, and of course citizens need to push to defend and extend rights – but it’s simply at variance with the facts to deny that the ECHR acts as a significant barrier to governments wishing to remove them.

  16. Gregory Greenwood says

    It is worth bearing in mind that the UK doesn’t really have any constitutionally protected declaration of rights of the type found in the US and many other modern democratic nation states. Any hypothetical UK bill of rights created to replace the EHCR would be just another act of Parliament, and so could be repealed much like any other act of Parliament (even if one could actually be passed into law in the first place in the face of inevitable opposition from the Right) without the extra checks and balances and layers of protection that fundamental rights tend to be accorded in other systems. That would hardly amount to much of a guarantee of fundamental rights, especially while we live under the aegis of a Tory government with an authoritarian streak a mile wide.

    I can’t help but feel that this outcome may have had some small influence on why the Tories have been maneuvering to take the UK out of the EHCR since at least 2013, indeed making it a manifesto promise…

  17. Bernard Bumner says

    Also timely and notable, as pointed out by David Allen Green (high quality legal commentator), that the Hillsborough Inquest was established due to ECHR and HRA.

    Some measure of justice has been delivered after 27 years of smear and cover up by the state, police, and local authorities.