NDLS Co-sponsors London Seminar on Recent Human Rights Cases

| By: Charles Williams

Notre Dame Law School’s Center for Civil and Human Rights and the British Human Rights Lawyers Association are co-sponsoring a seminar from 6 p.m. – 7.30 p.m. July 20 at the University of Notre Dame London Center, 1 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HG.

human rights lawyers association logo The event is a timely response to two important decisions rendered July 7 by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France: Al Skeini and Others v. UK and Al Jedda v. UK. Both cases held Britain responsible for human rights violations committed by British soldiers in Iraq.

The event, entitled “Al Skeini & Al Jedda: Bringing Rights Overseas?” is free and open to all, and ND London Law summer program students are invited to attend.

Panelists will include Rabinder Singh, QC, who was one of the counsel for victims in the two cases; Eric Metcalfe, Director of Human Rights Policy for a leading British human rights organization, Justice; and Professor Douglass Cassel of the Notre Dame Law School. Justice was an intervenor before the European Court in one case and before the House of Lords in the other case.

Professor Cassel’s presentation will bring a comparative American perspective. He will touch on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding human rights in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp as well as on lower court decisions concerning whether the U.S. Constitution protects prisoners held by the United States at its Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Questions of particular interest for British participants include:

  • Are the doors now open for more human rights claims from the British occupation in Iraq?
  • What are the implications of these judgments for continuing UK operations overseas, including Afghanistan and Libya?
  • What difference might a “derogation” have made? (“Derogations” are formal procedures by which nations are permitted, within certain limits, temporarily to suspend certain of their human rights obligations during wars and national emergencies.)
  • What will be the broader impact of the rulings on the relationship between international human rights standards and international peace and security under the UN Charter and the laws governing armed conflict in general?
  • Does extending rights overseas amount to “human rights imperialism” or is it simply the logical consequence of universality?

The program is the third to be co-sponsored by CCHR and HRLA at Notre Dame’s London Center in a year’s time.

The first event was held in October 2010 on the occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the British Human Rights Act. It covered comparative British and American perspectives on human rights issues, and featured an address by a Justice of the British Supreme Court, Baroness Hale of Richmond.

The second event, held in March 2011, addressed Litigating Human Dignity: Does It Add Value?, and included leading British barristers and academics as panelists.

For more information