Human Rights in The UK's Constitution

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2011 words

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A written constitution is a formal document defining the nature of the constitutional settlement, the rules that govern the political system and the rights of citizens and governments in a codified form. The UK's constitution is not written in a single document but derives from a number of sources that are partially written and part unwritten, including accumulated conventions, works of authority, Acts of Parliament, the common law, and EU law. Historically, the UK has not had a definable statement of individual rights and freedoms either - the 1689 Bill of Rights sets out the powers of parliament vis a vis the monarch - but rather relies on the notion of residual freedom and the concept of parliamentary sovereignty. Therefore, individuals' rights remain dependent on ad hoc statutory protection or upon judicial protection under common law. This contrasts to many European and Commonwealth countries and the United States, which have a clearly defined constitutional settlement. The closest thing the UK has to a bill of rights today is the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR) into domestic law.

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The UK, despite not possessing a formal written constitution, has a series of notable constitutional documents. We can say that even the current constitution of the UK is not codified but the Magna Carta was the first written or codified piece of document in the UK constitution as it also gave birth to the bill of rights and it was hoped that in near future that the government can opt the written constitution or maybe codify it but it has been done yet and doing it will cause a lot different thing now. The entry of the UK into the European Union in 1973 was a major constitutional development, bringing Britain under the supra-national jurisdiction of the EU in a limited number of areas, which have grown in the following years. The incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998 provided individuals with the ability to bring claims in domestic courts based on these prescribed human rights. The Act is of major constitutional significance because it strengthens the ability of ordinary people to challenge the actions of the various institutions of government.

The Act is formally limited to the acts of public authorities by section six(As it was believed that HRA itself was not enough they needed the codification various debates have been done). For most people, especially abroad, the United Kingdom does not have a constitution at all in the sense most commonly used around the world — a document of fundamental importance setting out the structure of government and its relationship with its citizens. All modern states, saving only the UK, New Zealand, and Israel, have adopted a documentary constitution of this kind, the first and most complete model is that of the United States of America in 1788. However, in Britain we certainly say that we have a constitution, but it is one that exists in an abstract sense, comprising a host of diverse laws, practices, and conventions that have evolved over a long period of time. The key landmark is the Bill of Rights (1689), which established the supremacy of Parliament over the Crown following the forcible replacement of King James II (r.1685–88) by William III (r.1689–1702) and Mary (r.1689–94) in the Glorious Revolution (1688).

From a comparative perspective, we have what is known as an ‘unwritten constitution’, although some prefer to describe it as ‘uncodified’ on the basis that many of our laws of a constitutional nature are in fact written down in Acts of Parliament or law reports of court judgments. This aspect of the British constitution, its unwritten nature, is its most distinguishing characteristic.[3] There is a variety of associated characteristics of Britain’s unwritten constitution, a cardinal one being that in law Parliament is sovereign within the sense of being the supreme legislative body. Since there's no documentary constitution containing laws that are basic in standing and superior to normal Acts of Parliament, the courts might solely interpret parliamentary statutes. they will not reverse or declare them invalid for being contrary to the constitution and ‘unconstitutional’. So, too, there are not any entrenched procedures (such as a special power of the House of Lords, or the necessity of a referendum) by that the unwritten constitution could also be amended.

The legislative method by that a constitutional law is repealed, amended or enacted, even one addressing a matter of basic political importance, is analogous in a similar way to the other Act of Parliament, but trivial its subject material. Another characteristic of the unwritten constitution is that the special significance of political customs referred to as ‘conventions’, that oil the wheels of the connection between the traditional establishments of state. These are unwritten rules of constitutional observe, very important to our politics, the workings of the presidency, however not committed into law or any written kind in the least. The terrible existence of the workplace of the Prime Minister, our head of presidency, is solely standard. therefore is that the rule upon that he or she is appointed, being whoever commands the boldness of the House of Commons (the majority party leader, or head of a coalition of parties) The monarchy is one in all the 3 elements of Parliament (shorthand for the Queen-in-Parliament) together with Commons and Lords. In legal theory, the Queen has absolute and judicially unquestionable power to refuse her assent to a Bill lapsed the 2 homes of Parliament. However, convention dictates the precise opposite and in applying she mechanically provides her assent to any government Bill that has been punctually passed and in agreement by Parliament. Another necessary convention is that government ministers should have a seat in Parliament (and, within the case of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the funds, specifically within the House of Commons) so as to carry workplace. this is often an important side of what's referred to as the ‘Westminster system of parliamentary government’, providing an immediate kind of government responsibility and responsibility to the assembly.

The case for a written constitution is that it'd alter everybody to understand what the foundations and establishments were that ruled and directed ministers, civil servants, and parliamentarians in playing their public duties. The sprawling mass of common law, Acts of Parliament, and European written agreement obligations, enclosed by variety of necessary however typically unsure unwritten conventions, is impenetrable to the general public, and wishes to get replaced by one document of basic law dictating the operating and operation of state within the UK simply accessible for all. what is more, it's become too straightforward for governments to implement political and constitutional reforms to suit their own political convenience, and entrenched procedures to make sure in style and parliamentary consent area unit needed that necessitate a written constitution. the current 'unwritten constitution' is Associate in Nursing anachronism riddled with references to our ancient past, mismatched to the social and political democracy of the twenty-first century and future aspirations of its folks. It fails to present grandness to the sovereignty of the folks and discourages in style participation within the political method. A written constitution would circumscribe the boundaries of British people state and its relationship with Europe and also the world. it'd become an emblem and expression of national identity nowadays and a supply of national pride.

The case against a written constitution is that it's gratuitous, undesirable and un- British. the actual fact that the united kingdom system of the presidency has ne'er been reduced to one document is a sign of the success of the City of Westminster system of the republic and therefore the stability it's dropped at the country. this can be in distinction to most alternative countries whose written constitutions were the merchandise of revolution or independence. The unwritten nature of the constitution are some things distinctively British, it reminds the USA of a good history, and maybe a supply of national pride. Contrary to claims that it's out of date, it's an organic process and versatile in nature, a lot of simply facultative sensible issues to be resolved as they arise and individual reforms created, that would be the case beneath AN entrenched constitutional document. whereas some are involved concerning the supposed existence of AN "elective dictatorship" and inadequate checks and balances within the social group, there's if truth be told a good vary of goodly pressures exerted upon ministers seeking to create polemical changes.

A written constitution would produce a lot of judicial proceeding within the courts, and change the judiciary, requiring them to pass judgment on the constitutionality of presidency legislation, once the ultimate word on legal matters ought to make out nonappointive politicians in Parliament, not unelected judges. There are such a lot of sensible issues inherent in making ready and enacting a written constitution, there's very little purpose in considering the matter. As a public policy proposal, it lacks any depth of real common support and, particularly given the huge quantity of your time such a reform would entail, it's a really low priority even for those that support the concept. an effort to introduce one would be a distraction and would possibly well have a destabilizing result on the country. The unwritten constitution permits a democratic Parliament to be the supreme determinant of law, instead of AN unelected judiciary. If the written constitution carried the next standing and priority in law, as written constitutions normally do, then the United Kingdom's Supreme Court would be able to review the constitutionality of explicit sections in Acts of Parliament, giving judges instead of nonappointive politicians the ultimate say on what's and what's not the law. If a Bill of Rights were to be enclosed in a very constitution of this nature, it'd change the Supreme Court to creatively interpret and apply its human rights articles in cases brought before them in a very manner that effectively changes or creates new law, instead of departure this to Parliament. As has been noted, most countries have written constitutions.

Indeed the vast majority of members of the United Nations have a written constitution contained in a single constitutional document which is entrenched, from Afghanistan, Albania, and Algeria to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, both Koreas, Kuwait, Luxemburg, Libya, Malaysia through to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe. Of those countries that have written constitutional documents, India has the longest and the United States the shortest. As noted, of course, the possession of a written constitution does not signify effective protection of human rights or fundamental freedoms. Nor does it necessarily mean that the constitution is not subject to frequent changes. It is alleged in India that on one occasion when a citizen asked in a bookshop for a copy of the constitution, he was told sorry we do not sell periodicals! A common feature of countries having a written constitution is that they have a specialized procedure for altering some or all of the provisions of the constitution.

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Through this paper I try to show the constitution of the UK which when changed will destroy the uniqueness of the country and will create a havoc about codifying all the rules and increase the work hours and as there are many more important things to cover as their war on drugs is on the go and “written constitutions do not happen by accident”, they are the product of specific events, such as revolutions, independence, unification or dissolution of a country. And when if changed If a written constitution for the future is to be prepared, it must be one that engages and involves everyone, especially young people, and not simply legal experts and parliamentarians. Some of the mystique and charm of our ancient constitution might be lost in the process, but a written constitution could bring government and the governed closer together, above all by making the rules by which our political democracy operates more accessible and intelligible to all.

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Human rights in the UK’s constitution. (2018, July 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from
“Human rights in the UK’s constitution.” GradesFixer, 30 Jul. 2018,
Human rights in the UK’s constitution. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Oct. 2023].
Human rights in the UK’s constitution [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Jul 30 [cited 2023 Oct 1]. Available from:
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