Taking the Next Step? Achieving another Bill of Rights

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The aim of this article is to explore the recent Bill of Rights debate in the UK. This is deliberately located in the UK’s complex ‘national question’ because of the obsessive focus on achieving a proper grounding for human rights. A new form of national human rights protectionism appears to be emerging and merits careful consideration. The article suggests that it is better to acknowledge and accept the existence of a plurality of nationalisms in the UK in these discussions and understand how an essentially ‘British nationalist’ discourse sounds and works in that overall context. The concern is that the Bill of Rights debate is becoming an inadequate surrogate for the more challenging constitutional conversations that are required, and human rights discourse thus invested with expectations of national renewal that it can never meet and does not have the internal resources to resolve. If the process does go forward it may be better to prepare the ground for a deeper and wider constitutional dialogue across these islands than stumble clumsily and divisively into this territory simply via ‘another’ UK Bill of Rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-42
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Human Rights Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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