Human Rights Day and our rights in the UK
In celebration of Human Rights Day, which was on 10 December, we reflect on international human rights and the rights that we benefit from in the UK.
The Historic Background
In the aftermath of World War Two, the United Nations General Assembly produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 and adopted the 10 December as an annual day of celebration of our inalienable human rights as people globally. The world had seen acts of violence, oppression and barbarism during World War Two and not only does the UDHR seek to establish a standard for the respect of human freedom and dignity but also to promote friendly relations between nations. You can read more about Human Rights Day from the United Nations here.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This document sets out the common standard for fundamental human rights that the United Nations seeks to protect universally and has inspired human rights legislation and treaties throughout the world. The UDHR consists of 30 Articles, which can be read here. There is no centralised global government and so it is important to recognise that the UDHR is effectively a universal standard but is not legally enforceable.
The European Convention on Human Rights
In 1948, following World War Two the Congress of Europe was held, attended by many including the leaders of the European nations, and topics of discussion included establishing a charter of human rights.
The Council of Europe later prepared the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR is a treaty concerning the basic rights and freedoms of people and aims to protect democracy and the rule of law in signatory countries. The ECHR led to the establishment of the European Court of Human Rights in 1959 which aims to protect and enforce the ECHR.
Unlike the UDHR, signatories to the ECHR have made a legal commitment to abide by these standards and so the rights contained in the ECHR can be enforced through the European Court of Human Rights if you are a member of a signatory state.
You can read more about the background and the 18 Articles in the ECHR here.
Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act is UK legislation which aims to give effect to the ECHR in the UK. Most, but not all, of the ECHR rights are included. The Human Rights Act means that UK citizens can enforce these rights through the UK legal system.
Successive UK governments have sought to amend, repeal and/or replace the Human Rights Act but for the time being it remains in place and is available to view here.
Equality Act 2010
Whilst not directly connected to the Human Rights Act, UK legislation takes the prohibition of discrimination (Article 14), further with powerful legislation such as the Equality Act.
The Equality Act provides legal protection in the UK against discrimination in wider society and the workplace. The Act sets out protected characteristics, including religion, belief, race, marriage, disability, age and gender reassignment, and defines the types of discrimination that are prohibited. You can view the Equality Act in full here.
UK Employment Tribunals have the power to award unlimited compensation in cases of discrimination.
If you have concerns that you are being discriminated against and/or treated unfavourably at work then get in touch with our Employment Law Team at 01202 525333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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