Human rights overarching theme for UK Chairmanship

Strasbourg , 

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague today stressed the determination and political commitment of his government to drive forward essential reforms of the Court of Human Rights during the British chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

Speaking shortly before the official handover from present chair Ukraine, Mr Hague said that human rights were central to UK foreign policy and an overarching theme for the chairmanship. The UK – a founding party to the European Convention on Human Rights - would broker a wide consensus on reform of the Court of Human Rights.

“We have a long tradition in the UK of protecting fundamental rights and freedoms, therefore we want the court to operate effectively and concentrate on the most serious human rights violations,” he said, adding his concern that the court had been too ready to substitute its own judgments for that of national courts.

He also stressed his support for the principle of EU accession to the European Convention of Human Rights, but warned that negotiations within the EU would be needed to get it right from the start.

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland welcomed the start of the UK chairmanship.

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