Speech: UK human rights reputation under threat

by David Isaac

Published: 21 Sep 2017

Statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on the UK’s Universal Periodic Review recommendations. On behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. 
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Dear Mr President,

I welcome the opportunity to make this statement in the name of the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

We would like to thank member states for their recommendations which addressed many of the major issues facing the UK.

As member states have recognised, there are some areas which have seen progress in the last few years. However it is concerning that so many of the challenges outlined in our latest reports were also raised when we last spoke to you in 2012.

Historically, the UK has been a champion of human rights. But that reputation is now under threat, due to the negative tone of debate from some politicians and many parts of the media around the Human Rights Act, and the potential risk to people’s equality and human rights protections when the UK leaves the European Union.

The international human rights system provides greater protection for those rights, but the UK Government’s continued refusal to fully incorporate the UN treaties it has signed shows scant regard for its international commitments.

We are disappointed by the lack of leadership on human rights across the UK Government, and would like to see greater engagement with the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) process from now on. Governments across the UK should publish clear and actionable plans for implementing your recommendations.

The three Commissions stand ready to support the implementation of recommendations and to hold the UK and devolved governments to account. We will report back to the Council with our independent and expert assessments of any progress made.

Thank you, Mr President.

 

Notes to editors

Statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Find out more about the Universal Periodic Review.

Read the press release: UK's reputation as human rights champion under threat.