Our constitution, July 2012: European Convention of Human Rights

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

“Guaranteed rights based on European Convention”

I love the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a religious person might love Scripture.

Drafted in 1948, sixty-four years old on 10th December this year, it is still a radical and inspirational document.

I find the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms less inspirational and less radical, even though it’s not even 5 years younger.

But the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the “European Convention”) was written with the real, pragmatic intent of being enforced by a court – by the European Court of Human Rights, which it established, and which is responsible for many of the gains in human rights we have seen in this country, and across Europe, in the past fifty years. So don’t think I’m knocking it when I say I don’t love it, the way I love the UDHR.

One of the elements which I feel is being somewhat whittled away by the economic status of the European Union is how becoming a member of the EU ought to mean a minimum standard of basic rights as expressed in the European Convention and continually monitored by the Council of Europe.

Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948;

Considering that this Declaration aims at securing the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared;

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is the achievement of greater unity between its members and that one of the methods by which that aim is to be pursued is the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Reaffirming their profound belief in those fundamental freedoms which are the foundation of justice and peace in the world and are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend;

Being resolved, as the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration….

Despite a load of silly scaremongering by unionists, Scotland will become a member country of the EU as an independent nation if it applies (and if the EU still exists, of course, depending when or if independence happens…). But whether or not Scotland was part of the EU, and whether or not rUK remains part of the EU (and indeed whether the EU exists or is replaced by some other economic entity) the Council of Europe would still exist, unless destroyed by some unimaginable pan-European war or other disaster.

Whether or not Scotland becomes independent, the Constitutional affirmation of human rights protected by law, by the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, is both an affirmation that human rights are central to Scotland – and a guarantee that a vote for independence, in 2014 or in the future, will not be a leap into unknown territory.

The human rights legislation passed by the UK Parliament both before the Scottish Parliament was reformed and after, must remain law in Scotland.

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Filed under Elections, European politics, Human Rights, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

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