On the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) have coordinated an open letter to the Prime Minister and political leaders signed by 75+ organisations from across the UK.
Published on 10 December 2023, global Human Rights Day, the letter highlights the United Nations’ call for a “movement of shared humanity” – a sentiment reflected by the breadth of organisations that have signed it.
Grassroots groups, local charities, international organisations, professional bodies, advocates and lawyers all working in different fields and for different causes have come together to call on the UK Government to reaffirm the commitment to universal human rights, honouring the fundamental principle that human rights are for everyone.
As well as celebrating the incredible mobilisation of civil society to speak up against the UK Government’s unprincipled and unworkable Rights Removal Bill, which was ultimately scrapped this year, the letter highlights the impact that human rights have in the “small places close to home” – a phrase coined by UDHR architect Eleanor Roosevelt.
Together, the organisations tell politicians, “Anchored by common fundamental values that reach beyond divides, the UDHR makes it clear that universal human rights are part of what it means to be human, and not gifts granted by the state.”
Speaking on the release of the open letter, BIHR’s CEO, Sanchita Hosali, said, “Global Human Rights Day should be a time for us all in the UK to reflect on the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, agreed across nations in the aftermath of World War II 75 years ago to protect the equal dignity of each of us.
“Whether in our schools or workplaces, in community centres or housing offices, at police stations and courts, in hospitals and care homes, social work departments and Government offices, our universal human rights, shared by each and every one of us should be respected and protected by those in power.”
“Sadly, here at home political debate is characterised by hostility to people’s human rights and a government intent on removing its accountability to us all.
“Having seen off the very real risk from the Government to scrap our Human Rights Act in favour of a Rights Removal Bill, groups from across the UK have joined together to call on our Prime Minister and political leaders to do better.
“Yet just days ago we see the Government seeking to set down in law the removal of human rights protections for a whole group of people seeking safety in it’s latest Rwanda Bill.
“As we mark the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, the Government must move beyond the popularist, often dog whistle politicking around human rights, and commit to realising the vision of universal human rights as a global blueprint for international, national, and local laws and policies.”