The good, the bad and the ugly: specialised bodies and racial discrimination in Britain, 10 years on...

Kay Hampton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


It is not enough to have legal protections without independent, specialised bodies to ensure that people's rights are being effectively realised. So what happens when specialised bodies become compromised? This paper will reflect on the British experience over the last 10 years, highlighting how protection against racial discrimination, which was in place for over 40 years, is in danger of being diluted by changing political contexts and local power elites. The paper will argue that despite the increase in racial discrimination post 9/11, concerns in this regard is shadowed by real or imagined threats of terrorism and misconceptions around competing rights. More recently, institutions in Britain have tended to use the economic recession & a belief in notions of a "post-race" society as reasons for taking a so-called "modernising approach" towards racial discrimination. So plausible are the arguments, despite it being academically flawed, that even members of racially marginalised communities in Britain are duped into believing that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in Britain. While some argue that the replacement of the CRE (established to enforce the Race Relations Act, 1976, 2000) with the British Equality & Human Rights Commission is a step in the right direction, others feel that this move has led to a weakening of protection for racial minorities in Britain. This paper will reflect on these developments & conclude that the rights of racial minorities can still be successfully protected via the EHRC but that the body itself needs to demonstrate its independence from political interference.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • law
  • equality
  • sociology
  • minority groups


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