Radical reform of world institutions is required — and this starts with the UK leaving the ECHR

Graham Charles Lear
8 min readJan 16, 2024

Across the planet, the citizens of Western countries are becoming incensed with their governments’ apparent inability to take action in the interests of their citizens, as a result of unelected bureaucrats in international institutions taking more and more power unto themselves.

I propose a policy agenda for taking back democratic control and leading the way in showing the world what a new order could and should look like. I believe the United Kingdom must now lead the way in this transition.

In this series I propose dealing with several global institutions, to put things right

I propose we take on the following:-

  • European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) — This report
  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • United Nations (UN)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • World Economic Forum (WEF)

Let’s start close to home — The European Court of Human Rights

For years the judges in Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have in effect been making up laws to suit their own agenda and belief system.

No national government ever conferred these rights on the ECHR’s judges. They simply took them, with no democratic control and no mandate to do so. It should be remembered that some of these judges have little direct experience as senior judges in their own countries, as I have previously reported.

The ECHR would have no legitimacy at all without the signatories of 46 countries to the European Convention on Human Rights. For decades the ECHR has acted as a lawmaker, rather than as an upholder of the law. The United Kingdom never signed up for this and it is now perfectly reasonable for the UK to show the way by removing itself from the list of national signatories to the Convention.

Counter-argument: The UK would been seen as a pariah state, akin to Putin’s Russia

Seriously? If we leave the ECHR does anyone genuinely believe that the world will suddenly see the United Kingdom as an autocratic regime, not believing in basic human rights? The UK’s reputation around the world is too strong for that.

It was British jurists who led in defining the Convention in the first place. But this was decades ago, post WWII when the world was a very different place. The world has moved on and the UK must now move out of the ECHR.

Given that the ECHR in its huge Strasbourg headquarters is now such a monolith, reform would be impossible in anyone’s lifetime. It’s time to start over and the UK leaving it is the defining first step.

Policy Proposals on ECHR and Rwanda

  1. That the British Government inform the other members of the Convention that the UK is removing itself from the list of signatories of the Convention with immediate effect and that it will no longer be bound in any way by judgements of the Courts in Strasbourg.
  2. That the British Government clearly states it remains committed to upholding fundamental human rights, as it has always done.
  3. On the Rwanda Bill, that the British Government disapplies sections 4 and 10 of the Human Rights Act and takes all other measures to ensure that Parliament’s sovereignty is respected and that the courts — whether in the UK or abroad — cannot frustrate the wishes of a democratically elected government.
  4. Thirdly, that all illegal migrants in the United Kingdom be removed from expensive hotels and be relocated to temporary holding facilities erected on government property. That they then be swiftly removed to other countries — either their home country, or Rwanda, or any other country which agrees to take them.
  5. That the British Government establishes an international conference to be held in London for all interested countries to redefine a more limited role for a new ECHR which acts as a guardian of fundamental human rights, not as creator of them.

Expected Policy Outcomes

  • The number of illegal crossings of the English Channel will dry up within weeks.
  • Drownings, such as the five reported at the weekend, will stop.
  • Hotels in the UK will once again become available for overnight stays and events such as weddings.
  • Community cohesion will be restored.
  • Public support for this policy will be overwhelming.

This week sees the Government’s latest attempts to solve the illegal boat migrant crisis created by President Macron’s refusal to take back his migrants hinges on deporting the people who arrive at a processing centre in Rwanda.

It is well-known that the Rwanda policy was stopped by UK lawyers appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France. One single ECHR judge sitting in France one evening two years ago overruled the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Here are some facts about the ECHR which readers might wish to know.

The European Court of Human Rights — some basic facts

  • ECHR is based in a grandiose suite of buildings in Strasbourg, France — purpose-built
  • The whole thing cost a fortune, with over 300,000 sq ft of floor space
  • The courtroom alone covers over 9,250 sq ft
  • Context: The average size of an entire property in the UK is circa 730 sq ft — 1/12th the size of the courtroom
  • There are 46 member countries, 27 of which are EU members
  • The EU insisted the UK submitted to the rulings of the ECHR
  • However, the EU has not submitted itself
  • It is not possible to bring any legal case against the EU at the ECHR
  • It is, however, possible to bring a legal case against the UK
  • As of 30 June 2023, there were 76,750 pending applications to the court
  • There have been over 900 cases in total against the UK
  • Until March 2022 it was still possible for a Russian judge to rule on ‘human rights violations’ in the UK

I have to ask the question as to why the European Union will not submit itself to the ECHR. If it's good enough for the 27 countrys in the EU then it should be good enough for the EU itself.

I know the answer to that question, I was wondering if readers know the answer? The answer will be revealed below as you continue to read

Here is a conundrum

If the ECHR is so independent of the EU, how come it sounds so much like it?

It is often said that the ECHR is part of the Council of Europe, not the European Union. Technically this is true. However, I invite readers to study the photograph below, which comes from the ECHR’s website.

If the ECHR is so independent of the EU, readers might question why the main judging chamber of the ECHR has an enormous EU flag on its floor. Yes, it was the EU that appropriated this flag, but why doesn’t the ECHR switch to an amalgam of all the flags of countries which are members, including the United Kingdom?

The EU insists the UK must stay under the ECHR, but won’t sign up for it

In what must surely be one of the most blatant acts of EU hypocrisy, the EU insisted as part of the UK-EU ‘Trade and Cooperation Agreement’ that the UK remained signed up to the ECHR.

And yet the EU will not sign up itself. Finally, in 2013 it reached an agreement to join, but was then blocked by its court: the Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ). Ten years later the EU is STILL not a member of the ECHR.

WHY?

And here is the answer

Here is what the EU Commission has to say about the EU’s current position:-

“At present, all 46 Council of Europe member states, including the 27 EU Member States, are already parties to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the EU itself is not. This means that actions of the EU’s institutions, agencies and other bodies cannot currently be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

- European External Action Service (EU Commission), 18 Oct 2021

The latest word on the EU’s website is “Negotiations for the accession of the EU to the ECHR were relaunched in September 2020 and are currently ongoing.” The ‘negotiations’ are still ongoing, according to the latest report from the EU in March of this year.

To call this position breathtakingly hypocritical would surely be an understatement.

Does the UK’s Supreme Court have to obey the ECHR? Yes

It has been suggested by some commentators that the UK does not have to obey the rulings of the ECHR, but merely treats them as ‘advisory’. Below is what the ECHR has to say about this.

“[The Court’s] judgments are binding on the countries concerned and have led governments to alter their legislation and administrative practice in a wide range of areas.”

- ECHR document, accessed 14 Aug 2022

So, the rulings are indeed binding, according to the ECHR.

This is one more reason why the EU won't sign up to it.

‘Rule of law’? — What law?

The UK gave the world the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, and the principle of Common Law.

Conversely, the ECHR operates under the principle of the Napoleonic code of Corpus Juris, where you are in essence assumed to be guilty, can be held in detention for very long periods, have no right to silence, and none of the other rights which the British people take for granted.

The sole British judge on the ECHR was born and educated in Germany

Having analysed the judges of the ECHR. I also looked at the ‘seniority’ as defined by the ECHR.

The sole British judge was born and educated in Germany and sits down at №19 in terms of precedence, below the judge from the tiny country of Cyprus. He moved to the UK in 1988, after completing legal studies in Germany.

In 2016 ECHR judges were paid €200,000 per annum tax-free. In today’s terms in pounds for a normally-taxed person that would be the equivalent of over £300,000 per year.

Photo right: Judge Eicke, the British judge © ECHR

To put the ‘British’ judge’s position into context, a judge from the tiny principality of Andorra (of which President Macron is the Prince) is 14 places above him in terms of seniority. A judge from Bosnia is 11 places above him. And a judge from Serbia — hardly known for its human rights — is nine places above him.

The above represents my opening salvo in an attempt to present clear policy alternatives which will, I believe, secure majority support from the public.

There is an opportunity for the newly independent United Kingdom to be at the vanguard of an international movement to redefine and reshape global institutions — and in some cases such as the WEF to abolish them completely. There is a role for the others, but they must be fit for this century and must reflect the circumstances we are now in, and the mood of electorates they serve.

My first report above relates to the ECHR — a bloated body that has granted powers unto itself which go far beyond its original mandate. By the United Kingdom resiling itself from this body, this will send a clear message to other countries that change is needed. The UK could and should lead the way.

Sources: EU Commission | ECHR

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.