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Migration to the UK: an introduction

Human Rights and Migration

This section has a brief overview of the international conventions on human rights which affect migration topics.

Human Rights conventions and legislation cover a number of areas including family rights, for example.  The context of the immediate post-WWII period was immensely significant, as individuals sought to establish laws to protect citizens against their own governments and prevent the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust being enabled once more.  This also relates to the rights of individuals and families to move, settle and seek refuge elsewhere.

Key documents are:

The European Convention on Human Rights (Council of Europe, 1950) and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948). 

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2020) has a useful summary of International Human Rights Law.

East West Street (Sands, 2016) is an informative and absorbing account of how concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity were debated and put into law, led by those who lost so many to atrocities under Nazism. 

References

Council of Europe (1950) European Convention on Human Rights.  Available at: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf (Accessed 24 June 2020)

Sands, P. (2016) East West Street.  London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 

United Nations (1948) Universal declaration of Human Rights.  Available at: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ (Accessed 24 June 2020)

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2020) International Human Rights Law. Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/internationallaw.aspx (Accessed 24 June 2020)

European Court of Human Rights - courtroom interior

Adrian Grycuk. European Court of Human Rights, Courtroom. [CC BY-SA 3.0 pl (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/pl/deed.en)]. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Courtroom_European_Court_of_Human_Rights_01.JPG

United Nations

The United Nations itself, and its declaration on human rights (1948) were a response to the specific and horrendous atrocities of the Nazi regime before and during World War II.  Several articles such as 13, 14 and 15 could be relevant in immigration and asylum cases (United Nations, 1948).  The concept of international law and human rights were developed by lawyers and activists who had themselves been affected by the outrages (Sands, 2016). 

UN Committees overseeing human rights treaties include the Committee on Migrant Workers, which monitors the International Convention on the Protection of Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (adopted 1990).

References

Sands, P. (2016) East West Street.  London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 

United Nations (1948) Universal declaration of human rights.  Available at: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html (Accessed 7 June 2019)

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (1996-2020) International Convention on the Protection of Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/158 of 18 December 1990. Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CMW.aspx;(Accessed 24 June 2020)

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2020) Monitoring the Core International Human Rights Treaties. Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/Pages/Overview.aspx (Accessed 24 June 2020)

European

The Rights Info (no date) group has a full version of, and introduction to, the European Convention on Human Rights (Council of Europe, 1950).  Article 4 covers the "Prohibition of slavery, and forced labour" and Article 8 the "Right to respect for private and family life" (Council of Europe, 1950).

The European Convention on Human Rights is a treaty that was drafted in 1950. Each of the numbered “articles” protects a basic human right. Taken together, they allow people to lead free and dignified lives.

47 states, including the UK, have signed up. That means that the UK commits to protecting the Convention rights. If a person’s rights are being breached, and they can’t get a remedy in the UK through the Human Rights Act, the Convention lets them take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

References

Council of Europe (1950) European Convention on Human Rights. Strasbourg: European Court of Human Rights. Available at: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf (Accessed 13 June 2019)

Rights Info (no date) The European Convention on Human Rights.  Available at: https://rightsinfo.org/the-rights-in-the-european-convention/ (Accessed 7 June 2019). 

UK

The 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) (United Kingdom, 1998) anchored the rights outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK Law, and enabled direct recourse to UK courts (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018a).

Article 8 of the HRA has particular significance in immigration cases (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018b).

The Liberty human rights organisation has information about the HRA (Liberty, 2020).  The organisation has expressed concerns about UK Government proposals for amending the HRA (Liberty, 2020).

References

Equality and Human Rights Commission (2018a) The Human Rights Act. Available at: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights/human-rights-act (Accessed 7 June 2019)

Equality and Human Rights Commission (2018b) 'Article 8: respect for your private and family life', The Human Rights Act. Available at: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-8-respect-your-private-and-family-life (Accessed 12 June 2019)

Liberty (2020) The Human Rights Act.  Available at: https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/your-rights/the-human-rights-act/ 

(Accessed 24 June 2020)

Liberty (2020) Human Rights Act.  Available at: https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/fundamental/human-rights-act/ (Accessed 24 June 2020)

United Kingdom (1998) Human Rights Act. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/contents;(Accessed 7 June 2019)

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