This was the background of the Akron symposium on human rights as comparative constitutional law. The purpose of the symposium was to expose U.S. constitutional and international law experts to the working of these human rights protection systems in which decisions under the U.N. Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights have arrived at an independent and influential, if not even precedent-setting role in relation to the national courts. Decision making by the U.S. Supreme Court is the focus of the teaching of Constitutional Law in the United States.

Having a number of European human rights cases, decided by the EuropeanCourt on Human Rights, their structure and reasoning allows a useful comparison with corresponding U.S. Constitutional Law cases. The work of the Human Rights Committee set up under the U.N. Covenant which applies to Canada (but not yet to the United States) is in many ways parallel to the work of the European Court; and the examination of national reports under Article 40 of the Covenant allows the Human Rights Committee an insight and an influence which goes far beyond what has been possible for the European Convention organs. All this set the stage for an exchange of views between experts from Canada and Europe who had first hand knowledge of the working the U.N. and the European human rights protection systems, and American experts who could test their American experience by comparing it with the international one. As organizer of the symposium I hoped that this exchange would turn out to be a fruitful one. I think that the symposium has lived up to those expectations.