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UK General Election 2024 Manifestos and Human Rights – What do they say?

This page highlights the key 2024 manifesto pledges of the key UK political parties that related to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights.

When is the General Election?

The UK General Election will take place on the 4th of July 2024 across the UK. In the General Election, UK citizens and qualifying members of the commonwealth over the age of 18 will have the opportunity to elect new Members of Parliament (MPs). Some people are excluded from voting in a General Election, such as prisoners and members of the House of Lords. You can find out more about who can vote with our explainer on the Right to Free Elections.

MPs often represent specific political parties; however, some are independent. The election could result in a change of Prime Minister and political party in power. Each party stands on different policies and pledges that they commit to fulfilling should they become the new UK Government. These are laid out in the party manifestos. This explainer will look at what these manifestos say about our Human Rights in the UK.

Who are the key parties?

The Conservative party is currently the party in power in the UK because they had the most MPs elected at the last General Election and so formed the UK Government. They are led by our current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years, since May 2010. They were re-elected in December 2019 and because the maximum term for Parliament in the UK is 5 years they were getting close to the requirement to call a General Election (Parliament would have automatically dissolved in December had this not happened). A General Election the public the chance to decide whether they want them to continue to lead the country, or if they would like another party to lead. You can find out more about General Elections on the UK Parliament website.

There are many different parties and independent candidates running in the General Election, however, polls as of 17 June suggest the following 6 parties are likely to win the most seats. We have taken them in order of predicted number of seats (highest to lowest).

Polling information comes from the BBC General Election 2024 poll tracker.

  • The Labour Party
  • The Conservative Party
  • The Reform UK Party
  • The Liberal Democrats
  • The Green Party
  • The Scottish National Party

Ahead of the General Election, each party have released a manifesto which sets out, or ‘pledges’ what they would do if they were voted into government. People will then decide which party they want to vote for based on these pledges.

What do the manifestos say about Human Rights in the UK?

The UK Government is required by Section 3 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) to implement any laws in a way that is compatible with all sixteen of the rights in the HRA as far as possible. Similarly, section 19 of the HRA says that, when presenting new laws to parliament, the Government must consider our human rights so they can make a statement on whether the proposed law respects human rights or not. You can read more about the ECHR and our relationship with it in our explainer.

You can also learn more about parliamentary sovereignty with our explainer.

Human Rights are something we all have in the UK just by being human, and the government has a legal duty to make sure that our human rights are protected, respected, and fulfilled in all their actions, including making and implementing new laws. At BIHR, we believe in the power of the Human Rights Act 1998 to make sure that public authorities are supporting our rights. What political parties set out in their manifestos, gives us an idea of how rights would be protected should that party get into power. It’s therefore really important that we understand this before casting our votes.

In this explainer, we will be looking at the manifesto pledges of 6 UK parties to see what they say about our human rights. There could potentially be countless human rights implications across any or all the policies on each of the manifestos, but this explainer will focus just on the pledges that refer to the Human Rights Act 1998 and ECHR. Any wording in quotation marks is taken directly from party manifestos and has not been altered.

Whilst some of the pledges in the manifestos will apply to England only due to devolution laws, all of the pledges covered in this explainer would apply to the UK as a whole.

The Conservative Party

The Conservative party is the current party in power in the UK. Despite attempts by the Conservative Government to replace the Human Rights Act 1998 with a Bill of Rights   in 2023, and some mention of withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights, their manifesto for the 2024 General Election does not explicitly mention the Human Rights Act 1998, and it only mentions the European Convention of Human Rights once.

In relation to the Rwanda Scheme and their pledge to “stop the boats”, the Conservative manifesto says the following:

“We will run a relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants to Rwanda with a regular rhythm of flights every month, starting this July, until the boats are stopped. If we are forced to choose between our security and the jurisdiction of a foreign court, including the ECtHR, we will always choose our security.”

This mention of the European Court of Human Rights does not explicitly state what the Conservative party would do with regards to our relationship with the ECtHR. It may suggest that the UK will not follow decisions that the ECtHR makes if they undermine the Conservatives Rwanda policy, however this is unclear.

The Labour Party

The Labour party manifesto does not have many explicit mentions of Human Rights; however, they do make a clear pledge that they will remain a member of the ECHR. This would mean that the UK must still consider decisions of the ECtHR, as well as pass laws that are compatible with convention rights, and public officials would need to respect, protect, and fulfil our human rights.

Labour pledges to provide human rights support for British nationals even when they are outside of the UK. This could provide more protections under the Human Rights Act 1998 as it could mean that we can get more support to understand our rights and have them protected even beyond UK borders.

Labour is also pledging to add a socio-economic duty to the Equality Act 2010. It is unclear exactly what a socio-economic duty would mean in practice as there are no details, however the intention is to extend the protections of the Equality Act.

These are the Labour Party Manifesto pledges that refer to our human rights:

  • “Britain will unequivocally remain a member of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
  • “Labour will also strengthen support for British nationals abroad. We will introduce a new right to consular assistance in cases of human rights violations.”
  • “Labour will ensure no matter whatever your background, you can thrive, and therefore we will enact the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010.”

The Reform UK Party

The Reform UK Party has released a “Contract” as opposed to a manifesto, however it similarly sets out a range of pledges across several different issues.

The Reform UK Party has a few mentions of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention of Human Rights in its contract. The key pledges relating to this is a pledge to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as introducing a new British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998.

This would have a big effect on our human rights in the UK as it would involve completely re-establishing how our human rights are governed, what rights we have, and who can be held accountable when our rights are not respected.

The contract also pledges to scrap the Equalities Act 2010; however, it is not clear if it will be replaced with another law.

These are the Reform UK Party contract pledges that refer to our human rights:

  • “Leave the European Convention on Human Rights.”
  • “Protect our servicemen and women on active duty inside and outside the UK from civil law and human rights lawyers.”
  • “Commence reform of the Human Rights Act so that it puts the rights of law-abiding people first.”
  • Replace the Equalities Act – “The Equalities Act requires discrimination in the name of ‘positive action’. We will scrap Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) rules that have lowered standards and reduced economic productivity”

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto includes a lot of different pledges around our rights, including new laws and frameworks around Digital Rights, surveillance, and new rights for disabled people and LGBTQ+. There is also a pledge to introduce the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women into domestic law.

The pledges that specifically relate to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention of Human Rights suggest that the Liberal Democrats would protect our current Human Rights Act, as well as our relationship with the ECHR. The specific Liberal Democrat pledges on the Human Rights Act and ECHR are:

  • “Champion the Human Rights Act and resist any attempts to weaken or repeal it.”
  • “Upholding the UK’s commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and resisting any attempts to withdraw from it.”
  • “Establishing a new right to affordable, reasonable legal assistance, and making the Legal Aid system simpler, fairer and more generous.”

“Upholding the Equality Act 2010 and making caring and care experience protected characteristics as set out in chapter 7.”

The Green Party

The Green Party predominantly campaigns around protecting our environment. Therefore, their manifesto has many references to new rights around a healthy environment. However, there are a few references to the Human Rights Act 1998, as well as the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Green Party manifesto pledges a commitment to continue the UK’s relationship with the ECtHR and to support the Human Rights Act 1998 so that we can still have our rights protected through the UK legal system and in the European Court of Human Rights.

The Green Party manifesto has pledged to scrap The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act due to concerns around the negative impact it has on the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

The Green Party manifesto also pledges to change the law so that people as young as 16 can have the right to vote. This could mean that the right to vote is extended further as, currently, we can’t vote in UK elections until we are 18.

  • “We will defend the Human Rights Act, the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and continued direct access to Convention rights in the domestic courts.”
  • “Scrap the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act, the Public Order Act and other legislation that erodes the right to protest and free expression.”
  • “Votes for 16-year-olds and residence-based voting rights.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP)

The Scottish National Party (SNP) manifesto has a large focus on Scottish Independence from the UK. This would mean that Scotland would be able to have control over all its laws and policies, as opposed to being bound by laws made by the UK Parliament. The SNP manifesto also says that it would demand “the UK Government follows Scotland’s approach and incorporates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law”.

There is currently a Scottish Human Rights Bill that seeks to bring four United Nations rights treaties into Scottish law, as well as an additional right to a healthy environment. However, this is not mentioned in the SNP manifesto. You can read more about the Bill and BIHR’s response to it on our website.

The manifesto only makes one explicit mention of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention of Human Rights by stating clearly that it is dedicated to protecting the Human Rights Act from being scrapped or changed. It has also said that it will oppose any attempts of the UK Government to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights.

The specific Scottish National Party pledges on the Human Rights Act and ECHR are:

  • “Rather than rolling back on rights, we should be seeking to strengthen human rights protections for all. We will call on the UK Government to respect international law and strongly oppose any attempts by the UK government to withdraw the UK from the ECHR or change the Human Rights Act which is integral to the devolution settlement for the Scottish Parliament”


Whatever the outcome of the General Election is, BIHR will continue our aim to uphold the Human Rights Act 1998 by empowering individuals to use human rights in their everyday interactions, supporting community and voluntary groups to use human rights advocacy, by increasing the accountability of public bodies and services to uphold human rights across all their actions, and by amplifying the voices of the people we support to positively influence policy impacting our rights, including securing our Human Rights Act.

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