Of Bills and Rights
What actually happens before a bill is drafted? Before it is certified (as human rights proof)? I do not know; I do not think many people really know. This was a fair comment by a long-standing member of the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights. Who is proofing human rights bills before they come to Parliament, and indeed when in Parliament? And how is this proofing done? These questions have been under-researched, as human rights studies usually focus on the executive and judiciary branches of government. But, what does the legislative branch do to safeguard human rights? This book provides answers to these questions by mapping the legislative processes of both the UK and the Netherlands, and by comparing them from a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) perspective. It then explains the comparative findings by proposing a theory of accountability. Because of webs of accountability, legislative actors in both countries actively seek to make bills human rights compatible. More popularly said: everyone's fingerprints are on the bills to try and render them ECHR proof. The interest of this book lies with the people that support the formal legislative institutions in this human rights quest. Interviews have been held in London and The Hague with over 25 civil servants, working in various departments (the ministries of Justice, the Attorney General's Office, the Council of State), as draftsmen (the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel), or in the two parliaments (the Joint Committee on Human Rights, clerks in the States-General). These frank interviews provide new material and insights into the formal process of turning bills into Acts that ideally are Convention proof.
Publication Date: 5/31/2013