Sat, 31 Jan 2009

Human rights in the civil courts and a convention on modern liberty

Human rights in the civil courts

Thursday 2009-02-19 from 18.30 til 20.30 - College of Law, 14 Store Street, London WC1E 7DE - Admission free

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers runs a series of lectures covering a wide range of topics. In the next instalment, Louise Christian, solicitor and Liz Davies, barrister will talk on Human rights in the civil courts. (There should be more information on the Haldane Society's website, but as I write this its website cannot be accessed as there are some problems with the domain name renewal.)

Convention on Modern Liberty - February 28th, London and around Britain The convention on modern liberty

Saturday 2009-02-28 from 08:30 til 19:00 - The Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL - Admission: Standard £35, Concession £20

(Free satellite conventions in in Belfast, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester)

The Convention on modern liberty aims 'to bring together a wide and growing range of concerns about the state of fundamental rights and freedoms in this country and publicise the work of the many individuals, groups and organisations deeply involved with them from across the political spectrum. We hope this will generate a wider release of energy among the public that may assist the growth of a movement to take back what has been lost and to help shape a Modern Liberty capable of securing individual and collective freedom at a time of profound uncertainty and change.'

It's a great opportunity. Over a thousand attendees are expected at the main London event. And with more attending the satellite events, it's a rare occasion to mobilise such a large crowd on rights and freedom issues. It is a high profile event that has already garnered lots of publicity in particular in The Guardian, the main media partner (Henri Porter is co-director of the event). With more than a hundred speakers, you are bound to find some you consider worth listening to.

On the flip side, the programme has too much happening in parallel, one can attend only one session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Should one attend sessions they already have some interest in or instead discover something completely different? As these sessions are hopefully an opportunity to participate, the former is the more likely choice. Then there's the issue of cost, it is expensive for an event wanting to attract a whole spectrum of attendees. I queried this by email: 'I looked for info as to what the money the event will collect will be used for but haven't found any such explanation.' This wasn't directly answered, instead I learnt that 'Tickets are heavily subsidised. Concessionary tickets are £20 and all tickets include a sandwich lunch and refreshments'. In his launch speech, Anthony Barnett, co-director of the Convention, made an appeal for financial support while at the same time pointing out the generosity of many professionals offering their service for free; and Henri Porter explained 'The Convention on Modern Liberty is for openness, reform, accountability, scrutiny, trust and fun. It is against the fixing, manipulation, suspicion, spin and self-serving edicts of the political classes.' Why not then publish a summary budget? This would show some transparency and accountability, and would help convince more individuals to purchase tickets and/or donate.

A Carnival on modern liberty was launched to highlight some relevant blog posts in the run up to the Convention on Modern Liberty. The first edition was published at Liberal Conspiracy and the second at Our Kingdom (thanks Tom to select one of my posts). Submit a post to be included in a future edition.

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