A message from Commissioner Geraldine Van Bueren

‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Geraldine Van BuerenToday the Equality and Human Rights Commission joins our fellow human rights defenders around the world to mark International Human Rights Day. This year the United Nations calls on us to celebrate human rights defenders who act to end discrimination.

Human rights defenders speak out against discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence. We advocate justice, dignity and respect. We harness individual potential and remove barriers to opportunity. In Britain as elsewhere around the world, human rights defenders can be found in our local communities, our public services and our schools, perhaps more often than we would think. In our day to day work, nurses, teachers, care workers and many other professionals strive to protect and promote the dignity of those they serve.

Today we have chosen to spotlight the role of human rights defenders working in public services and acting as advocates in the voluntary and community sector, without whom the human rights of all of us in Britain would be worse off. We hope that you will be inspired by their commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of those who are unwell, who are homeless, or who experience barriers related to disability. 

We also have messages from political leaders, including the Minister for Human Rights Lord McNally, Shadow Minister for Human Rights Sadiq Khan MP and Chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights Hywel Frances MP.

The theme of this year's Human Rights Day is an important reminder that the right to equality and the prohibition of non discrimination are human rights.  As a national human rights institution we are entrusted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to play a central role in safeguarding and promoting human rights in Britain. Using our powers to promote and enforce equality law is central to – not separate from – this critical human rights role.

As we celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, we reflect on the many things we can be proud of:

I invite you to explore these new webpages to be inspired by the work of human rights defenders to bring dignity and respect to the communities we serve.

We very much welcome your comments and views on what the Commission does. We take your views most seriously. Please send your comments to communications@equalityhumanrights.com.

Professor Geraldine Van Bueren
EHRC Commissioner lead on human rights

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