IBA puts rights on global agenda

HUMAN rights will no longer be left to the “whim” of individual countries as law becomes more supranational, says the president of the International Bar Association, Professor Ross Harper.

Speaking at last week's launch of the IBA's human rights institute, Harper said that the importance of supranational courts “cannot be overemphasised”.

He added that all countries should be subject to the scrutiny of their neighbours.

As reports emerged that the UK cabinet was divided over whether to renew its membership to the International Court of Human Rights in Europe, Harper said one of the “significant developments” of the past decade had been the growth of the court.

“I hope to see this replicated in other continents,” he said.

“The question of human rights is too important to be left to the whim of an individual government.”

He added: “While a government may protest about a decision before the Court of Human Rights it must accept the decision. This is the essence of the rule of law – the right of representation, a fair hearing and a proper determination must be accepted.”

The institute is to be co-chaired by New South Wales' Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery QC and the former chair of the board of the Oslo Bar, Tor Bohler.

It will operate through five committees located across the globe.

It will be funded by a £50,000 per annum contribution from the IBA and pledges from other individuals and organisations.