David Maxwell Fyfe and the European Convention of Human Rights

6th July 2015 in Archives Centre, Our Collections

KLMR Acc 1482 box 3 file 2

Maxwell Fyfe's air ticket to Nuremberg, 1946. Kilmuir Papers, Acc 1482 box 3 file 2

Recent discussion about the reform of human rights legislation has led to discussions about the history of European Convention of Human Rights and the intentions of those who drafted and championed it. The European Convention was conceived in the long shadow in the Universal Declaration, the post-war Magna Carta that reasserted freedoms and rights in the face of years of barbarity. The  Convention is a regional manifestation of that global ambition.
 
However, the Convention grew out of the structures and systems that Europe put in place to keep it safe and prevent further war. Winston Churchill was at the heart of this regeneration of Europe after the war.
 
The Convention is a product of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly established to support it. Churchill invited David Maxwell Fyfe to contribute to the creation of a new Europe. Maxwell Fyfe had conducted a forensic examination of Nazism as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. He conducted successful cross examinations of a number of leading Nazis based on deep research into how they had descended into shocking barbarity. His private letters exchanged with his wife whilst he was in Nuremberg can be researched at the Archive Centre, as can his letters from Strasbourg, as he forged and championed the Convention on Human Rights, together with speeches and notes that spell out his intentions.
 
These papers provide an ideal resource to help those interested to understand the source and intention of the Convention.

 — Tom Blackmore

Catalogue to the Kilmuir Papers


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