The Right to be Forgotten

One that that is almost guaranteed to confuse students is the distinction between the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) (from which the ECHR came). For many students, these bodies, and therefore all human rights legislation, is one and the same. This is simply not true.

The Council of Europe was set up post WWII to promote human rights and democracy across Europe. They wrote the European Convention on Human Rights, which set up the European Court on Human Rights. The Convention was the basis for the UK’s Human Rights Act of 1998.

The European Union is a political and economic union to which the UK have pooled sovereignty over certain agreed issues. They have the European Court of Justice.

Both, in their time, have had a key impact on the UK (while, of course, Parliament remains sovereign…legally at least). In the recent ruling on Google, the European Court of Justice (EU) ruled that people should have the right to be forgotten on the internet. A useful example of protection of rights from beyond the UK.

(By comparison, it was the European Court of Human Rights (CoE) that made the ruling on prisoners being allowed to vote…which the UK have not yet implemented and have few plans to).

A final note – if you get a question on how the UK judges have protected human rights, please remember that neither the ECHR or the ECJ are UK institutions!! They are therefore irrelevant to this question!