Is international law effective at protecting human rights?


Internationally there are many bodies that aim to protect the human rights of individuals. The UN operates a human rights Council, and there are many human rights treaties against torture, genocide and discrimination, as well as protecting the rights of children.

Human rights around the world

Despite all the treaties and international exposure, human rights in many areas of the world are poorly protected. Human rights protection is only ever as good as the bodies who can implement protection on the ground. In countries where war or civil unrest is prevalent, it can be hard to enforce any human rights. Many international groups campaign and work towards providing human rights in difficult regions, but set against a backdrop of violence this can be a seemingly impossible task.

Human rights in Europe

Many regions around the world have their own human rights legislation and this is particularly true in more developed areas. Europe has had the European Convention on Human Rights since 1953, although you can argue that this did not prevent cases of torture in Northern Ireland, or genocide in the former Yugoslavia. Indeed, human rights laws often contain clauses allowing for the suspension of provisions in the event of threats to national security or war. 

Rights in the UK

In the UK, domestic human rights have been enshrined in the Human Rights Act since 1998. This Act allows citizens living within the UK the right to bring a case in a domestic court if they feel their rights have been infringed by a state body or another individual. The Act has greatly increased access to human rights justice within the UK. Despite this, the Act is not absolute, and in recent years a number of counter terrorism laws have been passed for which the application of the Human Rights Act has been suspended. 

If you believe your human rights have been infringed you can bring a case in a UK court, and can appeal a decision right up to the European Court of Human Rights. You should take legal advice from a specialist solicitor prior to deciding whether to pursue a case.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on human rights, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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