6 International law
International law covers many areas, but here we are using the term to refer to international agreements made by states. Two such international agreements have a direct and significant impact on citizens in Scotland. These are the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly referred to as the European Convention on Human Rights or ECHR) and the UK’s decision to join the European Economic Community (EEC).
Since the ending of the Cold War and collapse of communism, much of Europe has been relatively stable. It is easy to forget that those two international agreements, the ECHR and EEC (and the institutions with which they are associated) arose out of the desire to create a climate of stability, harmony, prosperity and cooperation within Europe. At their core was the desire to prevent the horrors, as well as social and economic impact, which had occurred during World War II from being repeated anywhere in Europe. No city or community in Europe had been untouched.
Following the end of World War II, boundaries were redrawn across Europe and millions of displaced citizens had to re-establish their lives. Politicians strove to rebuild Europe seeking to ensure peace and stability. They worked together with the aim of ensuring that such events would never happen again. It is easy to overlook these ambitions when discussing the functioning of the agreements in our modern and much changed world.