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Modern Magna Carta: The European Convention on Human Rights



In the lead up to the 800th Magna Carta Anniversary this year Ashley Summers takes a look at the original and a series of modern ‘versions’ of the Magna Carta from the US Constitution to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and various conventions on climate change and sustainability, Magna Carta for the Earth.

Partially an expansion of the Declaration of Human Rights, which was accepted by Allied Partners in 1948, the Convention on Human Rights hones and addresses the geopolitical connectivity of European States. Originally drafted in 1950, it was put into effect 3 Sept 1953 by the Council of Europe. It provides that anyone who feels his or her rights have been violated under the Convention can take the case to court.

The document is comprised of Articles and Protocols that affect all 47 Council of Europe Member States. While similar in content to the Declaration of Human Rights, this Convention is designed with the European Continent in mind, focusing on the geographic, political, and historical closeness of the region. Additionally, it addresses the increase of communism in Central and Eastern European countries, thereby creating a protection for the Council of Europe from communist disruption.

While the first Article binds all signing States to uphold the Convention’s Articles, Article Two and Three go into preserving and protecting an individual’s life as far as State jurisdiction spans, and prohibiting torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment,” respectively.

Subsequent Articles cover servitude, liberty and security, fair trial, retroactivity, privacy, conscience and religion, expression, association, marriage, effective remedy, discrimination, derogations, aliens, the abuse of rights, and permitted restrictions.

Protocols in the Convention cover topics of property, education, elections, civil imprisonment, free movement, expulsion, restriction of death penalty, crime and family, discrimination, the complete abolition of the death penalty, and institutional protocols.

Photo: Matt Clark via Flickr

Further reading:

General election 2015: a stark choice for voters in five weeks

Prince Charles: climate agreement should be ‘new Magna Carta for the Earth’

Cameron, Clegg and Miliband sign joint climate change agreement

Political parties on the spot: how do we make our democracy sustainable?

The Guide to Sustainable Democracy 2014


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