Parliaments and human rights

The Lord Norton of Louth (Professor of Government, University of Hull, United Kingdom)

Managerial Law

ISSN: 0309-0558

Publication date: 1 December 2005


In a liberal‐democracy, the legislature serves as the democratic arm of the state while the courts serve as the principal protectors of liberal values. There is the potential for conflict between the will of the majority and the rights of individuals and minorities. Legislatures may adopt a detached role, intervening on occasion to give voice to public dissatisfaction with judicial decisions designed to protect human rights, or instead decide to engage in the process of discuss ing and protecting human rights. This paper provides the results of an empirical study of legislatures in European states that are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights. It employs a simple dichotomous variable of whether or not a legislature has a human rights committee. Though approximately half the legislatures studied have human rights committees, the proportion is greater among the legislatures in southern, central and eastern Europe. The paper concludes by considering the case for greater engagement by legislatures in other countries.



(2005), "Parliaments and human rights", Managerial Law, Vol. 47 No. 6, pp. 18-30.

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