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International conference on Parliaments, the Rule of Law and Human Rights takes place today

Date: 07/09/2015

A major international conference on the Role of Parliaments in the Protection and Realisation of the Rule of Law and Human Rights takes place today in Westminster. Funded by the AHRC, through a grant to the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, the conference has been convened by Murray Hunt, Legal Adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament and Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Oxford.

The conference, which has attracted approximately 100 delegates from around the world, builds on earlier AHRC-funded research in 2012. Participants will consider a number of recent developments at the national, regional and international levels, which indicate a growing interest in developing the role of national parliaments in the protection and realisation of the rule of law and human rights.

With the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth and other international organisations taking active steps to increase the role of parliaments in these key areas over the last few years, the conference will bring together relevant experts from parliaments, policy-making, academia, NGOs and international bodies to take stock of the significance of these developments.

The purpose of the conference is to consider whether there is now a need for some internationally agreed principles and guidelines to provide a more coherent narrative to these disparate developments and to help parliaments everywhere to devise the appropriate practical means to develop their role in the protection and realisation of the rule of law and human rights. The conference will assess the desirability and feasibility of reaching international agreement on some principles and guidelines and identify what further work, including academic research projects, may be required in order to achieve that end.

Speakers include Gianni Magazzeni, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Professor Nico Schrijver Professor of International Law, Leiden University, Member of Dutch Senate and Executive Committee Member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and Dr Josephine Ojiambo, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

Professor Murray Hunt said: “Democratising the rule of law and human rights is an idea whose time has come.  Increasing the role of elected politicians in protecting the rule of law and human rights can make those protections both more practically effective and more democratically legitimate.  As the world enters a particularly dangerous phase of its history, increasing the strain on these bedrock values, we need more than ever a global framework which will promote more democratic dialogue, deliberation and debate about civilisation’s most fundamental commitments.  This conference will, I hope, be the start of a process leading to eventual international agreement on some principles and guidelines which could help bring about a step-change in the practical realisation of those universal ideals.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, Leadership Fellow for the AHRC’s Care for the Future theme, and opening speaker at the conference said: "The role of international organisations as guardians of human rights is well recognised and understood. But national parliaments have an equally vital - if neglected - function to play in ensuring respect for and the realisation of human rights. This conference brings together a highly experienced body of researchers and policy makers to interrogate that role and, more specifically, to produce a set of guidelines that will assist parliamentarians the world over in fulfilling it."

To coincide with the conference the AHRC has launched a timeline on AHRC funded Human Rights Research and Policy-making.

For further information from the AHRC, please contact Danielle Moore-Chick on 01793 41 6021 or d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes for editors

  • A dedicated project web page containing further details and resources can be seen here.
  • The Faculty of Law in the University of Oxford is one of the largest in the United Kingdom. It is a federation of thirty law schools in the colleges of the University. Legal scholars in the colleges and University are members of the Faculty, which coordinates and supports the teaching and writing of one hundred fifty three academics. We admit and support and teach and examine a diverse and outstanding body of students from all parts of the British Isles and from all over the world. Our student-to-faculty ratio is approximately 7:1. Our academics conduct world leading research funded by a number of bodies, including the AHRC. In the REF 2014 the Oxford Faculty of Law attained the highest ‘Power’ rating for Law at 100 and scored first for the quantity of impact rated at 4*.
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk
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