The Role of Domestic Courts in the Enforcement of International Human Rights: The United Kingdom<sup>1</sup>

Rosalyn Higgins Dbe Qc

in Themes and Theories

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780198262350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682322 | DOI:
The Role of Domestic Courts in the Enforcement of International Human Rights: The United Kingdom1

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In the United Kingdom, human rights are assuming more and more relevance in judicial decision-making. Two key factors have provided the essential starting point. The first is that in English law a treaty cannot be given internal effect without incorporation. The second is that, in discharging their judicial function, the judiciary has been extremely sensitive not to usurp the rights of the legislature. While some human rights may be part of customary international law, virtually all such rights are now contained in various international treaties. Treaties are only given effect in English law if it is intended or required that they should give rise to causes of action at the domestic level; or if they require the alteration of statutory law; or if they change rights held or duties owed under the common law. Although there has been increasing success in the English courts in promoting freedom of speech concepts by reference to European human rights criteria, this has proved much more difficult in the area of privacy.

Keywords: United Kingdom; human rights; judiciary; English law; international law; international treaties; incorporation; common law; freedom of speech; privacy

Chapter.  9673 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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