Happy 2nd birthday… and thanks a million

5 April 2012 by

The UK Human Rights Blog launched on 30 March 2010 with a total of 2 readers and a budget of £200. Two years later, despite the budget remaining consistent, the Blog has just surpassed 1,000,000 individual page views and has over 10,000 subscribers over email, Twitter and Facebook. I would like to take a moment to reflect on this success.

As you can probably guess, we are (and I am) thrilled at the response to UKHRB. When we launched, our aim was to provide a new voice in the always colourful but often shrill arena of human rights commentary. We felt that there was a gap in the market (as it were – the blog has been and remains free to access) for a non-ideological legal human rights update service which would be accessible to the lawyers and lay persons alike.

I would like to think we have come some way towards achieving this aim. I am particularly proud of our posts correcting poor human rights reporting and commentary; we must be doing something right given that journalists and authors concerned now regularly respond to criticisms made on UKHRB. See, for example, the comments below the highly controversial UK loses 3 out of 4 European Court of Human Rights cases post and Telegraph journalist Christopher Booker’s response to my post on whether journalists should attend court.

The UKHRB team have worked tirelessly to comment on and summarise recent case law, often within a few days, if not hours, of a judgment being published. It is particularly satisfying to be able now to comment on cases on appeal which we covered when they were originally heard at first instance.

I am extremely proud of the immense amount of work which has been put into UKHRB by barristers from 1 Crown Office Row as well as our growing band of guest authors. In particular, I should single out Rosalind English; a dream co-editor and a brilliant writer too, and Angus McCullough QC, who continues to keep the UKHRB ship steady and on a consistent course.

One of the pleasures of editing UKHRB has been receiving countless emails and comments supporting what we do, from family members of those affected by human rights issues, students, professors, NGO workers, Government employees and even judges; it is fantastic to know how many people now rely upon UKHRB for their human rights and public law updates. Thanks are also due to the Guardian Legal Network and the Legal Week Legal Village for expanding the reach of our posts significantly.

An unexpected effect of the UKHRB’s growing profile is that it has begun to have an influence on the news it reports. We were the first to publish the Special Advocates’ response to the Government’s Justice and Security Green Paper, and have been covering the issues raised by the proposals long before they became a major public controversy; incidentally, our most recent post on the topic now has two detailed comments from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. We have kept our readers up to date with the ins and outs of the major UK human rights controversies: not least the still-ticking time bomb of prisoners’ votes, the always colourful Commission on a Bill of Rights and of course Catgate.

As the UKHRB team (and my workload) has grown I have taken on more of a commissioning role. I would love to write more, but realistically I could not continue to have two full-time jobs as it sometimes felt like in the Blog’s first year. In that regard, Twitter has been a revelation as it has allowed me (as @adamwagner1) to continue to ‘micro-blog’ about new case-law and developments without having to write a full blog post. This suits me I am constitutionally incapable of writing a short (i.e. sub-500 words) blog post on anything at all, however good my intentions are when I sit down at the keyboard in the flush of a new judgment or human rights news story. And, from this week, the Blog’s official Twitter account @ukhumanrightsb has been resurrected by other 1COR barristers.

For those who are interested in one of the legal blogosphere’s pet debates – whether blogging helps your legal career – for me, the jury is still out, but blogging and tweeting has certainly led to me meeting some fantastic co-bloggers and campaigners, and I am now regularly invited to speak about human rights to all sorts of audiences, including schools, students, those in Government and NGOs. I am not sure whether any of this brings in extra work, but it is tremendous fun and I have learned a huge amount from all of the opportunities UKHRB has presented; the most basic of all being the self-enforced discipline of reading most of the most recent human rights case-law which arises on the wonderful BAILII’s New Cases of Interest page.

Anyway, enough blowing the UKHRB trumpet. It looks like human rights will continue to play a central role in the UK justice system for at least the rest of this Parliament, so we are not going anywhere until 2015 at the earliest. Perhaps one day we will even have to change the name to the UK Rights Blog (must reserve that domain name…). A redesign is on the cards, but it will have to wait until I have a moment to breathe.

I will end with thanks to all of UKHRB’s readers and particularly the commenters, who continue to keep us on our legal feet. As always, if you have any comments or requests, please post them in the comments box below.

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  1. Dr Lars Mosesson says:

    I would simply like to add my appreciation and thanks to the messages above. It is an invaluable resource, not only for my students in Human Rights, Public Law and Legal System, but also for my colleagues in other subjects, and for my own research. The topicality, the clarity and the links are admirable. Long may you flourish!

  2. Jamal says:

    Many congratulations ,because without humanRight we will end up in the land where every thing is humanwrong ? what ever that might be ,a World without balance is a world of disaster.

  3. Jenny Hughes says:

    Always interesting and well written, even a layperson with half a brain can learn about human rights; thank you to you all for your hard work. But I have a (layperson’s) question: what’s the point of Strasbourg if governments don’t abide by its judgements (e.g. prisoners’ voting rights) and the ECHR never enforces them? In my experience all my rights (including the human variety) are theoretical rights, they are not real for me nor for so many others: most people cannot access justice and cannot enforce them.

  4. ObiterJ says:

    Congratulations and here’s to many happy returns !! This blog is first-rate and is essential reading for anyone seeking to keep abreast of some of the many human rights developments.

  5. John Dowdle says:

    Well done – and keep up the good work. It is “institutions” like yours that help to keep us “lay” people informed and alert. I hope – contrarily – you also appreciate the reactions of readers like myself put forward on some of the judgments you report upon. When I studied law many years ago, I remember one law lecturer exclaiming testily that what we have is a system of law, not a system of justice! Sometimes, some judgments may be legally logical but from the stancepoint of simple common sense, can appear arbitrary and occasionally ridiculous. Hopefully, comment from “lay” people on these occasions may help to get legislators to revisit existing legislation and improve upon it. With all best wishes for the future.

  6. Many congratulations to Adam and your colleagues in producing such a wonderful and worthwhile blog. I find your blogs to be the most comprehensive of its kind. Do keep up the excellent work. Very best wishes from one of your regular readers.

  7. Simon Carne says:

    Congratulations, Adam. It’s been an enjoyable and enlightening read since I found your blog. Or, at least, it was. Two-year-olds are notoriously badly behaved and difficult to control!

    1. Adam Wagner says:

      Haha has the UK Human Rights Blog entered its terrible twos? Only time will tell…

  8. rjjoconnell says:

    Congratulations on the success of this indispensable blog, and Happy Birthday.

  9. I am still waiting for an explanation why the UK published its Draft Brighton Declaration to the other 46 Member States of the Council of Europe, and we in the UK had to rely upon a leaked report via a French newspaper?

    Similarly, why do I have to rely upon a blog in the Netherlands to discover that there is a new version of the Draft Declaration? Unfortunately, Antoine Buyse fails to state where it was “discussed yesterday in Strasbourg” and to provide a link. http://echrblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/brighton-update-new-version-of-draft.html

    The CoE UK Chairmanship website http://www.coe.int/web/coe-portal/event-files/chairmanship-committee-of-ministers/uk-november-2011-may-2012 constantly promises updates for information but then fails to deliver the goods “Preparations are underway and more information will be published here shortly”. http://www.coe.int/t/dgi/brighton-conference/default_en.asp

    There is something absurd about a human rights violating nation holding the High-Level Conference, and seeking to restrict individual applications to the ECtHR and decide itself whether it has abused human rights. Member States are required to abide by ECtHR decisions which go against the Member State. For example. Hirst v UK (No2). As it stands at present, Member States are not bound by decisions against other Member States. For example, Scoppola v Italy. Why is the UK awaiting a decision against Italy to comply with a decision against the UK? It does not make sense. Therefore, why do we tolerate it?

  10. cidermaker says:

    I may not always agree with you but you are doing excellent and valuable work.
    Here’s to the next two years!

  11. Danielle says:

    UKHRB is an amazing resource which really helps me to keep up to date with recent case law and human rights issues- thank you very much and long may it continue :)

  12. Stephen says:

    Yes, an island of sanity in an increasingly mad world. Essential for anyone who has an interest in human rights.

  13. jtownend says:

    happy birthday. It’s a fantastic resource.

  14. Felix Labinjo says:

    Happy second birthday. Such is the impact that UKHRB has made, and continues to make, that it seems it has been around for much longer than 2 years. Thank you for all your good work.

  15. Sue Wilkinson says:

    Congratulations on your second birthday, UKHRB – and thank you for all the work you put into providing such an informative – and, increasingly, indispensible – resource.

  16. Hugo Perks says:

    Congratulations and thanks. It’s become an essential window in my world view.
    Hugo Perks

  17. Frank Cranmer says:

    A very happy brithday. UK Human Rights Blog (and Human Rights in Ireland) are incredibly useful and, much more important, havens of sanity in what sometime seems like a debate fuelled largely by prejudice.

  18. Very Happy 2nd Birthday and wishing you many many more

    UK Human Rights Blog is now an essential part of my life.

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