Human rights defenders

The theme for Human Rights Day 2010 is 'human rights defenders who act to end discrimination'.

In their day to day jobs, thousands of these individuals fight exclusion and injustice and advocate dignity and respect. They harness individual potential and remove barriers to opportunity.

Find out more about human rights defenders working in health care and in the voluntary and community sector, without whom the human rights of all of us in Britain would be worse off.

Nurses and human rights

Every day, nurses throughout Britain provide essential care to those who are unwell and vulnerable. As they respectfully look after the dignity of their patients, they champion human rights in their day to day jobs.

We spoke to five nurses about what human rights mean to them and how human rights help them to do a better job. You can hear from them directly. Please note that these clips will open links to YouTube to play the videos.

Link to video of AnnAnn
What do human rights mean to you?


Link to video of BruceBruce
What do human rights mean to you?


Link to video of ElizabethElizabeth
Does an awareness of human rights make a difference to the quality of care that patients receive? 


Link to video of LindsayLindsay
How does human rights relate to your work as a Nurse?


Link to video of TomTom
Can you tell us what you think about human rights in the health service?


The voluntary sector and human rights

Many of Britain's voluntary and community sector organisations are dedicated to equality. Many of them are using human rights concepts and tools to improve the lives of ordinary people in everyday ways.

Equality organisations are increasingly using human rights to challenge poor treatment received by those they serve. Human rights help them do a better job.

We spoke to three organisations to find out more about how they use human rights in their equality work.

Link to video by MindMind

Mind, the mental health charity explain how the Human Rights Act was pivotal in leading to changes in equal access to justice for victims and witnesses with mental health problems.


Link to Down's Syndrome Association videoDown's Syndrome Association

The Down's Syndrome Association shows how human rights are strengthening the voice of people.


Link to Housing Justice videoHousing Justice

Housing Justice talk about how human rights are protecting homeless people from discrimination.


'Lawyers for Young People' - the Children's Society

Lawyers for Young People is a case study that demonstrates how a leading voluntary organisation is protecting human rights by providing an advisory service to young people. Read more >

For more information please see our publication ‘Human rights and equality in the voluntary sector: Report of a pilot project by the British Institute for Human Rights and the Equality and Diversity Forum’.

 The UN have also produced some resources about human rights defenders, including information notes and posters, which you can download from the OHCHR website.

Last Updated: 07 Dec 2010