Document Type


Publication Details

Luke McNamara, Human Rights Controversies: The Impact of Legal Reform, Routledge - Cavendish, Oxon, 2007, 300p.


Many countries confront similar human rights controversies, but despite the claimed universality of human rights values, they are not always resolved in the same way. Why? What role do local legal conditions play? More specifically, does the domestic 'legal form' of human rights have a significant impact on the processes and outcomes of policy debates, law reform and decision-making on controversial issues? Is human rights discourse a more potent force in a country where rights are expressly recognised than they are in a country where there is a tradition of respect for underlying values, but where no bill of rights has been enacted? If bills of rights are influential, is a constitutionally entrenched model more effective than statutory models when it comes to the effective injection of human rights considerations into public discourse? In this book, comparative socio-Iegal examination of three recent controversies - double jeopardy reform, recognition of same-sex relationships and the operation of hate speech laws - in four countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom - provides a foundation for offering answers to these questions. Examination of these controversies suggests that differences in the design of domestic legal institutions and procedures for the injection of human rights values into legal decision-making processes can have a powerful effect on the manner in which human rights issues are constructed, handled and resolved.