Research Project

Human Rights Local

Principal Investigator
Koldo Casla

Supporting human rights in local communities

Human Rights Local: a catalyst for local communities to build a culture of rights.

Poverty, inequality, housing, discrimination, health and social care, and education affect hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.

The Human Rights Local project seeks to identify opportunities to make human rights locally relevant. The project shows that human rights are closely linked to everyday life, and we do this by establishing effective relationships with local and community groups, local authorities and other stakeholders. We aim to channel a positive vision of rights for the local community, one that is empowering, protective, enabling and problem-solving through research, partnerships, advice and support.

In 2020/21, Human Rights Local was funded by ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

 

Connecting, driving change locally and building human rights bridges to equality, freedom, dignity and respect.

We are all members of communities where “alone the free and full development of (our) personality is possible”, as recognised in Article 29(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human Rights Local brings human rights closer to the ground, adapting international standards and principles to the local context. By identifying local priorities and needs, we support local communities to translate these concerns into rights-based demands for change, and create avenues for dialogue and participation.

Human Rights Local is forming strong connections with a number of local community groups based in Colchester, Jaywick and Clacton. Following on from the support both the Human Rights Centre (HRC) and the Human Rights Centre Clinic gave to the official visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, to Jaywick in November 2018, the HRC initiated and co-organised a follow-up local community event on 2 July 2019. These meetings have started to address the many ways in which the systemic human rights challenges identified in the Special Rapporteur’s report on UK poverty can begin to be effectively challenged with the support of the Human Rights Centre.

The Human Rights Centre also contributed to Colchester Pride in June 2019 to underline the human rights-based dimensions of the rights and entitlements of the LGBTQI community.

We are working alongside Just Fair, Amnesty International UK and ATD Fourth World to facilitate that people with lived and learned experience of poverty from all nations and regions in the UK meet and learn from each other, gain and develop research and advocacy skills, build networks, and improve our general understanding of social rights challenges and opportunities in our country.

Localising human rights means celebrating tall figures of our shared history, like John Ball, born in Colchester and executed for his leadership in the Peasants’ Revolt of the 14th century. With some of our partners, we are looking to honour John Ball’s memory and that of other men and women who throughout history fought for the rights of their peers in the UK and abroad.

Drawings by Graham Ogilvie
Drawings by Graham Ogilvie
Drawings by Graham Ogilvie
Drawings by Graham Ogilvie

Activities

  • On 10 February 2021, the HRC, Amnesty International UK, Just Fair and ATD Fourth World held an event to learn from local advocacy experiences led by people with lived experience of poverty and other forms of disadvantage, including a campaign for the right to work in Belfast, for refugee rights in Manchester, the right to food in Wales, the socio-economic duty in Teesside, and to address the digital divide nationally. Read more about the event.
  • On 21 January 2021, the Human Rights Centre, ATD Fourth WorldJust Fair and Amnesty International held an online event under the theme of ‘Building a Human Rights Bridge out of Poverty’. The event brought together people with lived and learnt experiences of poverty from London, Manchester, Glasgow, Teesside, Cardiff and other parts of the UK. This event was part of an 8-month series to provide a platform to exchange knowledge, develop skills, build capacity and form alliances for real change to end poverty and promote greater equality in the UK. Read the article.
  • In October 2020, the Human Rights Centre issued a statement to commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, alongside Amnesty International UK, Just Fair and ATD Fourth World.
  • In July 2020, the Human Rights Centre worked with Mercury Youth Theatre and Packing Shed Theatre Company to honour the legacy of John Ball, a 14th century promoter of equality who was originally from Colchester. Based on an online talk delivered by Dr Koldo Casla from the Human Rights Centre about champions of liberty, equality and solidarity over past centuries, members of Mercury Youth Theatre recited famous speeches that became part of the history of international human rights.

Recent reports

Essex Human Rights Centre Human Rights Cities report September 2021

This report identifies some of the common characteristics among Human Rights Cities in Europe, as well as the potential benefits of becoming one.

The report provides historical background on the development of the concept ‘human rights city’. Based on literature review and the case studies of seven self-declared human rights cities, the report identifies certain common characteristics. It also presents the case studies of nine cities in Europe, including three in England.

The first seven cases declared themselves human rights cities (Barcelona, Graz, Lund, Nuremberg, Utrecht, Vienna and York). The case studies provide a background on the city, presenting some of the structures and initiatives employed to implement a human rights framework.

The last two cities are from England (Brighton & Hove and Newcastle); while they have not yet declared themselves human rights cities, both of them have implemented interesting local initiatives in the domain of housing and homelessness that resonate with human rights principles.

Landscape view of air pollution in front of orange sunset
RightsCast

Engaging Socio Economic Rights at the Local Level with Dr Andrew Fagan, Lucy Davies and Rebecca Rocket

Listen to the podcast