Bill of rights

"Bill of Rights" redirects here. For the English law, see Bill of Rights 1689. For the United States constitutional amendments, see United States Bill of Rights.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 is a fundamental document of the French Revolution and in the history of human rights.
Draft of the United States Bill of Rights, also from 1789

A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it refers to the Bill of Rights 1689 enacted by Parliament following the Glorious Revolution, asserting the supremacy of Parliament over the monarch, and listing a number of fundamental rights and liberties.

Bills of rights may be entrenched or unentrenched. An entrenched bill of rights cannot be modified or repealed by a country's legislature through normal procedure, instead requiring a supermajority or referendum; often it is part of a country's constitution and therefore subject to special procedures applicable to constitutional amendments. A not entrenched bill of rights is a normal statute law and as such can be modified or repealed by the legislature at will.

In practice, not every jurisdiction enforces the protection of the rights articulated in its bill of rights.

List of bills of rights

The Bill of Rights 1689 is an Act of the Parliament of England asserting certain rights


Specifically targeted documents

Exceptions in Western democracies

Australia is the only Western democratic country with neither a constitutional nor federal legislative bill of rights to protect its citizens, although there is ongoing debate in many of Australia's states.[1][2] In 1973, Federal Attorney-General Lionel Murphy introduced a human rights Bill into parliament, although it was never passed.[3] In 1984, Senator Stephen Bunce drafted a Bill of Rights, but it was never introduced into parliament, and in 1985, Senator Lionel Bowen introduced a bill of rights, which was passed by the House of Representatives, but failed to pass the Senate.[4] Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard has argued against a bill of rights for Australia on the grounds it would transfer power from elected politicians (populist politics) to unelected (constitutional) judges and bureaucrats.[5][6] Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are the only states and territories to have a human rights Act.[7] [8] However, the principle of legality present in the Australian judicial system, seeks to ensure that legislation is interpreted so as not to interfere with basic human rights, unless legislation expressly intends to interfere. [9]

See also


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
  2. Anderson, Deb (21 September 2010). "Does Australia need a bill of rights?". The Age. Melbourne.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  4. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  5. "Howard opposes Bill of Rights". PerthNow. The Sunday Times. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  6. Howard, John (2009-08-27). "2009 Menzies Lecture by John Howard (full text)". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  7. Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) AustLII
  8. Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2008 (Vic) AustLII
  9. Potter v Minahan [1908] HCA 63 AustLII
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