The Human Rights Act: Politics, Power, and the Law

  • Anthony M. Clohesy


In 1998, the Human Rights Act (HRA),1 which incorporated the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into British law, was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament, giving British citizens a form of protection taken for granted in virtually every Commonwealth country and Western democracy (Dyer, The Guardian, 12 November 1998). The Act, which some have argued is the most important constitutional development in Britain since the signing of the Magna Carta, is intended to deliver ‘a modern reconciliation to the inevitable tension between the democratic right of the majority to exercise political power and the democratic need of individuals and minorities to have their human rights secured’ (Klug, Singh, and Hunt, 1997, p. 2). Anyone living within the jurisdiction of the UK, regardless of citizenship or nationality, can claim the protection of the convention. If one is a victim, in other words, if one’s rights have been or would be violated by a public authority, one can bring proceedings in any court or tribunal in the land. Provided someone can show that they are ‘personally affected’ by the decisions or actions of a public body they can bring a case for judicial review on convention grounds alone (Klug, Singh, and Hunt, 1997, p. 3).


Judicial Review Discourse Theory Domestic Court European Politics Commonwealth Country 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



  1. Betten, L., and Grief, N. (1998) EU Law and Human Rights (London and New York, Longman).Google Scholar
  2. Blair, T. (1998) The Third Way: New Politics for the New Century (London, Fabian Society).Google Scholar
  3. Derrida, J. (1992) ‘Force of Law: the Mystical Foundation of Authority’, in D. Cornell (ed.), Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice (New York, Routledge).Google Scholar
  4. Dworkin, R. (1978) Taking Rights Seriously (London, Duckworth).Google Scholar
  5. Freeden, M. (1996) Ideologies and Political Theory: a Conceptual Approach (Oxford, Clarendon Press).Google Scholar
  6. Gasche, R. (1986) The Tain of the Mirror (Massachusetts and London, Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  7. Griffiths, J. (1997) The Politics of the Judiciary (London, Fontana).Google Scholar
  8. Howarth, D. (2000) Discourse (Philadelphia, Open University Press).Google Scholar
  9. Klug, F. (2000) Values for a Godless Age (London, Penguin).Google Scholar
  10. Laclau, E., and Mouffe, C. (1985) Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (London, Verso).Google Scholar
  11. Mandelson, P., and Liddle, R. (1996) The Blair Revolution: Can New Labour Deliver? (London, Faber and Faber).Google Scholar
  12. Marshall, T. (1992) Citizenship and Social Class (London, Pluto Press).Google Scholar
  13. Marx, K. (1843), ‘On the Jewish Question’, in R. C. Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader (1978) (New York and London, Norton and Company).Google Scholar
  14. Wadham, J., and Mountfield, H. (2000) Blackstone’s Guide to the Human Rights Act (London, Blackstone).Google Scholar


  1. Dyer, C., ‘Bringing home the basics’, The Guardian, 12 November 1998.Google Scholar
  2. Dyer, C., ‘The rights stuff’, The Guardian, 3 April 2001.Google Scholar
  3. Klug, F., ‘A law fit for a prince’, The Guardian, 3 October 2002.Google Scholar
  4. O’Neill, O., ‘A matter of trust’, The Guardian, 7 May 2002.Google Scholar
  5. Travis, A., and Dyer, C., ‘Power shifts to the judges’, The Guardian, 11 September 2000.Google Scholar

Journals and press releases

  1. Campbell, T. (1999) ‘Human Rights: a Culture of Controversy’, Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 26 (1).Google Scholar
  2. Clements, L. (1999) ‘The Human Rights Act — a New Equity or a New Opiate: Reinventing Justice or Packaging State Control?’, Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 26 (1).Google Scholar
  3. Clements, L., and Young, J. (1999) ‘Human Rights: Changing the Culture’, Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 26 (1).Google Scholar
  4. Croft, J. (2000) ‘Whitehall and the Human Rights Act’, The Constitution Unit, University College London.Google Scholar
  5. Gearty, C. (2001) ‘Airy-Fairy’, London Review of Books, Vol. 23.Google Scholar
  6. Hunt, M. (1999) ‘The Human Rights Act and Legal Culture: the Judiciary and the Legal Profession’, Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 26 (1).Google Scholar
  7. Klug, F. (2001) ‘The Human Rights Act — a Third Way or a Third Wave Bill of Rights’, European Human Rights Law Review, 4.Google Scholar
  8. Klug, F., Singh, R., and Hunt, M. (1997) ‘Rights Brought Home: a Briefing on the Human Rights Bill with Amendments’, The Constitution Unit, University College London.Google Scholar
  9. Mendus, S. (1995) ‘Human Rights in Political Theory’, Political Studies, Vol. XLIII, pp. 11–25.Google Scholar
  10. Straw, J. (27 October 1999) ‘Jack Straw Sets Out New Vision of Society’, Press release by the Lord Chancellor’s department.Google Scholar
  11. Straw, J. (18 May 1999) ‘Jack Straw Announces Implementation Date for the Human Rights Act’, Home Office press release.Google Scholar
  12. Wadham, J. (2001) ‘The Human Rights Act — One Year On’, London, Liberty.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony M. Clohesy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EssexUK

Personalised recommendations