UCL Institute for Human Rights


Working Papers

The Institute for Human Rights Working Paper Series is intended to convey the preliminary results of ongoing research

Working papers are peer reviewed and can be put forward for inclusion by any UCL academic, post-doc or PhD student. Non-UCL academics can have working papers included by invitation, and will also have the work reviewed.

The Human Rights Act and the Slow Transformation of the UK's 'Political Constitution', Colm O'Cinneide (UCL)

This paper examines how respect for the core principles of democratic constitutionalism is secured with the UK’s unwritten constitutional system. It begins by describing the structure of this constitutional system, and how it has traditionally given primacy to representative governance through the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty while also adhering to rule of law principles.

It then analyses how this ‘political constitution’ has over the last few decades been diluted by an infusion of ‘legal’ elements, in particular through the expansion of domestic administrative law and the influence of EU law and the ECHR.

The paper then examines the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and the recent controversies that have surrounded the Act and the relationship between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights, and concludes by suggesting that the pan-European human rights framework remains indispensable even for a country like the UK that retains a (healthy?) suspicion of excessive legalisation. 

Submission to the Commission on a Bill of Rights Public Consultation, UCL Institute for Human Rights

There are many issues that the Commission may confront in considering the possibility of a British Bill of Rights. This brief focuses on five central areas of controversy:

I. Benefits of continued commitment to the ECHR system
II. Benefits of the Human Rights Act worth preserving
III. What would a Bill of Rights mean for the sovereignty of Parliament?
IV. An opportunity for adding value: incorporating Social Rights in a BBR
V. Avoiding constitutional disruption: limiting civic responsibilities in a BBR
VI. Encouraging native human rights jurisprudence after Ullah by positive
provisions in a BBR

Under these headings we outline six recommendations we suggest the Commission could make, for reasons given in the corresponding sections below. To do so we have drawn on expert understanding of contemporary legal scholarship and constitutional practice.

The Many Faces of Slavery: The Example of Domestic Work, Dr Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL)

This article focuses on the abuse suffered by domestic workers and enquires whether it can be deemed a modern form of slavery. First, it examines the key features of domestic labour and highlights the special challenges that domestic workers face.

Second, it considers the notion of slavery and the related notions of servitude and forced and compulsory labour, as they have been analysed in recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights. It then assesses whether the concept of modern slavery has been correctly approached therein, suggesting that it is a multifaceted concept which can include both de jure and de facto elements.

Third, it discusses examples that show how national criminal law and international labour law have developed to address the problem of the abuse of migrant domestic workers. The paper closes with some concluding thoughts.

Are Labour Rights Human Rights? Dr Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL)

Are labour rights human rights? This question has attracted much interest in recent years among lawyers, academic scholars, trade unionists and other activists, and has given rise to heated debates.

In human rights law and labour law scholarship, some endorse the character of labour rights as human rights without hesitation, while others view it with scepticism and suspicion.

This article finds that there are in fact three different approaches in the literature that examines labour rights as human rights, which are not always distinguished with sufficient clarity.