The new sovereigntism: what it means for human rights law in the UK

Cross-posted from LSE Brexit Blog

For many people, Brexit is about taking back ‘control’; about determining for ‘ourselves’ what the law is, how it applies, how we spend our money, and how we develop our policies. The fact that many people both before the referendum and now struggle to identify with accuracy an area of law or policy in which the EU has ‘taken’ control (and not had competence ceded or shared through a Treaty change ratified by the UK) is irrelevant; what matters is the perception of a lack of national autonomy, and an associated corrosion of domestic democratic control.

Deep within at least parts of the arguments that circulate around Brexit is a form of new sovereigntism that is deeply worrying to the rule of law. The UK is hardly alone in this phenomenon; as far back as 2000 Peter Spiro wrote about the emergence of new sovereigntism in the United States; about a group of scholars and intellectuals who were not opposed to international law per se, but who thought that the US should be able to engage with it as and when it wanted to. In other words, these scholars promoted an a la carte approach to international law, underpinned by a “brand of anti-internationalism [that] runs deep in the American political tradition”. Continue reading The new sovereigntism: what it means for human rights law in the UK

This is why repeal matters

Cross-posted from the University Times

Last week, William Binchy – a long-time anti-choice campaigner in Ireland – affirmed his view that the eighth amendment had “done its job”, so to speak. And it has. It was introduced into the constitution in 1983 to make sure that abortion could never be legalised in Ireland. As a result, pregnant persons in Ireland cannot access a lawful abortion unless they are likely to die without one. This makes ours one of the most restrictive abortion law regimes in the world. Continue reading This is why repeal matters

I have a column in today’s The Independent on Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks on the importance of addressing the causes of terrorism and the potential for foreign affairs policies to impact on terrorism at home. The full column is available for free here, and here is a taster

In most other policy fields, we expect government to act on the basis of evidence; to survey the research, to consider it in context, to forecast the possible outcomes, to make the best laws and policies they can on the basis of this, to evaluate those laws and policies after some time, and to change them if they are not working. In the field of counterterrorism, however, this is perceived as weakness rather than prudence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

ABC Documentary on Abortion Law in Ireland

The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) has produced and played a radio documentary on abortion law reform in Ireland as part of its Rear Vision series. The programme, aired on November 20th, features a very long interview with me, as well as interviews with the excellent Ruth Fletcher (QMUL) and Éidín ní Shé (UCD). The programme explores both the genesis and the impacts of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, and the potential for constitutional reform. The transcript for the documentary, as well as the audio itself, are available here.