In 1950 the Council of Europe, of which Britain was a founder member, established the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Although this agreement enshrines fundamental political and civil rights, its incorporation into UK law was the subject of debate for around 30 years. During this time, writes John Wadham, there was a ‘gradual shift in establishment opinion from resistance or apathy towards any type of human rights legislation’ to New Labour’s enactment of the Human Rights Act (HRA) in 1998 (1999, p. 354). While the primary objective of the HRA was to ensure that legislation is compatible with the rights enshrined in the Convention, it also provides citizens with a clear statement of their fundamental rights and basic freedoms under the law.
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