‘Professor Alison Young has been extensively involved in various activities contributing to work on the human rights reform that is being conducted by the UK Government. A Robinson Fellow, and the Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law with special research interests in public law and theory, Alison tells us what she has been so extensively involved with in the past months:
'Public lawyers have been in demand recently as the Government implements its constitutional reforms set out in their 2019 manifesto. One of their commitments was to ‘update the Human Rights Act…to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government’. As a human rights scholar, I’ve been involved in various activities contributing to human rights reform.
First, the Government established an independent Commission to review the Human Rights Act - the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR). As the Director of the Centre for Public Law at Cambridge, I helped to co-ordinate the Centre’s evidence submitted to the IHRAR. The Centre also submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights to help that Committee prepare its response to the IHRAR. I was also involved as an academic advisor to JUSTICE, helping them to prepare their submission to the IHRAR, as well as attending roundtables on the IHRAR hosted by Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.
The IHRAR also organised roadshows to help explain how the Human Rights Act worked and to seek input to its review from the wider public. In May 2021, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge co-hosted a roadshow.
In December of 2021, the Government published both the IHRAR’s report and its response to the report, initiating another consultation exercise on the Government’s proposed reforms. It was pleasing to see that the IHRAR report cited evidence both from the Centre for Public Law and JUSTICE in its extensive report.
The Government’s new consultation exercise generated another flurry of activity. In January 2022, I recorded a podcast for the Oxford Human Rights Hub, setting out an outline of the reform proposals. I also wrote a series of short explainers on the reforms for the Constitutional Law Matters (CLM) project. CLM also hosted an excellent lecture from Lord Carnwath on the proposed reforms, which I chaired. I also took part in events for Liberty, JUSTICE, the Community Policy Forum, and 39 Essex Chambers, discussing the pros and cons of the proposed reforms, as well as giving evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Now the evidence is in, we’re all waiting for the Government’s response - probably taking the form of draft legislation, or a Bill coming to Parliament in the next parliamentary session. In the meantime, there are plenty of other constitutional reforms to keep me busy!'