Britain – no longer a haven for human rights?

So I intended to mostly focus on US current affairs with this blog, since that’s where i’m living and it felt like I might have a more interesting perspective as a foreigner. However, the announcement by the new Conservative government in the UK last week regarding the potential repealment of the Human Rights Act (HRA) left me speechless. And so ironically I felt compelled to write about it.

When it comes to human rights, as a Brit, there are many events and times in our chequered history that represent, colossal sized blemishes. During the heights of imperialism the way we treated inhabitants of the countries we colonised was nothing less than despicable. While not to excuse any of this behaviour it also has to be understood within the context of its time. The world in general pre-1900s was one of attrition, nationalism, racism, and intolerance. However, in the latter half of the 20th century huge strides have been made towards establishing basic universal human rights and by this time Britain was at the forefront of helping to institute these. After being one of the first countries to stand up to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, in the years ensuing that catastrophic war it was pivotal in the establishment of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR was drafted by the Council of Europe, led by British MP and lawyer Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, as a way to prevent the types of atrocities from WWII from ever happening again.

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