60th Anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights

3 September 2013

BIHR

60 years of human rights protection is worth celebrating say community leaders

On 3 September 2013, members of the public and groups representing millions of people across the UK mark the 60th Anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights coming into force by calling for political leadership on human rights here at home.

In an open letter, published in The Telegraph, over 85 civil society groups, representing countless people across the UK, including carers, children, nurses, and disabled people, joined the British Institute of Human Rights, and said:

“For our organisations, and the people we work with across the UK, the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention are fundamental in ensuring all of us can live with dignity, respect and equality, safe in the knowledge that there are checks on Government power.”

“This “other jubilee” is also a time to celebrate 60 years of the UK’s commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights in the Convention…We call on our political leaders to secure our human rights heritage and stand firm on the UK’s commitment to the Convention and its expression in the Human Rights Act.”

Members of the public, parliamentarians, elected officials and judges joined organisations in celebrating 60 years of human rights protection under the Convention by sending messages of support in an ECHR Anniversary Card. Hundreds of individuals and groups representing many more said:  

“Today we celebrate 60 years of human rights across Europe and the UK’s commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting the rights contained in the Convention. The UK played a pivotal role in drafting the Convention in the aftermath of World War II and we ask our political leaders to secure our human rights heritage and stand firm on the UK’s commitment to the Convention.”

BIHR shared this often unheard story of UK-based support for human rights UK, presenting the card to the British judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Paul Mahoney, who said “this is a reassuring indication of the support of the public and ordinary people.”

Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights, said:

“Today people and groups across the UK have joined together to speak up for the European Convention on Human Rights, and how these rights, expressed through our Human Rights Act, are a vital safety net for us all.”

“BIHR wants to see a genuine public debate which gives a voice to those who are applying human rights in everyday life, recognising the role of human rights as the cornerstone of a democratic and fair society, rather than simply resorting to sound-bites and rhetoric.” 

“We should be proud to live in a country which played a central role in setting up the Convention system. Now is not the time to go backwards, and today many across the UK have stood up to say these human rights protections must not put at risk by a lack of political leadership.” 

ENDS

EDITORS NOTES

1. To arrange comment from BIHR please contact Sanchita Hosali, Deputy Director on 0207 882 5850/49 or via shosali@bihr.org.uk (out of hours: 07811 457343)

2. Tuesday 3 September 2013 marks 60 years of the Convention entering into force. The UK played a leading role in drafting the Convention and was among the first countries to sign it.

3. The open letter from over 85 civil society organisations was published on 3 September in the Daily Telegraph. For a full list of signatories please contact BIHR spokesperson and see also: http://www.bihr.org.uk/media/60-years-of-human-rights-protection-work-celebrating-say-community-leaders

4. The ECHR Anniversary Card from people across the UK has been delivered to the Council of the Europe. The card has over 200 signatures and messages from members of the public, elected and other officials, and organisations representing many people across the UK. For more information about the card, the people who signed it and pictures and film of the presentation at the Council of Europe please visit: http://www.bihr.org.uk/media/bihr-delivers-60th-anniversary-card-for-the-european-convention-on-human-rights

5. Founded over 40 years ago, the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has pioneered work to help people understand human rights, to apply them in practice beyond the courtrooms, and to protect and progress human rights. We work with civil society organisations and the public sector, equipping them to translate human rights principles and laws into living and practical tools for change. Through this work, we aim to realise the potential of human rights to empower people, and to provide a safety net for us all when our rights are compromised. This brings a fresh perspective, rooted in real-life examples, to UK debates about law and policy development. See further www.bihr.org.uk