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Human Rights and the End of EmpireBritain and the Genesis of the European Convention$
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A. W Brian Simpson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267897

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267897.001.0001

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Beckett’s Bill and the Loss of the Initiative

Beckett’s Bill and the Loss of the Initiative

(p.390) 8 Beckett’s Bill and the Loss of the Initiative
Human Rights and the End of Empire


Oxford University Press

This chapter gives an account of the drafting within the British Foreign Office of an international bill of human rights, and the role of the legal Adviser, Eric Beckett, in establishing a British policy over the negotiations This was to press for a binding human rights covenant, rather than a non-binding declaration It traces the origin of controversy over a possible right of individual petition, and the unease of the British Colonial Office over the whole enterprise. It shows how the British negotiators lost the initiative, with the consequence that the United Nations gave priority to the drafting of the Universal Declaration, which was adopted in December 1948. There is a detailed account of the negotiations, and an examination of the legal status of the Declaration, and of its critics, notably Lauterpacht, and extollers.

Keywords:   Foreign Office, legal Adviser, binding covenant, Universal Declaration, Lauterpacht, Eric Beckett

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