Creating a fairer Britain
The theme of Human Rights Day 2010 - focusing on the work of human rights defenders who act to end discrimination - is one I welcome. As the Minister for human rights I value the role human rights defenders play nationally and internationally, recognising that this is often at great personal risk.
I am proud to be part of a Coalition Government whose commitment to human rights is uncompromising. In protecting and extending British liberties, the Government intends to build on our obligations and ensure that rights continue to be enshrined in British law. Just as uncompromising is our commitment to equality, which has a central place in the of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights through the prohibition of discrimination.
These are the very principles human rights defenders across the globe strive to protect and I am delighted to support the Equality and Human Rights Commission's promotion of international human rights day, which I hope will contribute to inspiring a new generation of defenders to continue this vital work
Today is an opportunity to celebrate the many people out there who defend human rights; those who stand up for and promote justice, dignity and respect. Today marks an important reminder of our right to live free from discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence.
As a human rights lawyer I did my best to stand up for and defend those people who still did not have access to these basic rights, and I celebrated the passing of the Human Rights Act in 1998. Now, as an MP and as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, I am in a position to hold the Government to account on anything that I find to be compromising human rights. This is a role I take extremely seriously.
I wholeheartedly support International Human Rights Day 2010, not only to celebrate the work that has already been done, but to raise awareness that there is always more to do. I welcome the efforts of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and others who safeguard and promote human rights in Britain.
The Human Rights Act has helped to build a culture of respect in the UK and has provided an important tool for people facing discrimination. I hope that today will inspire individuals even more to speak up for and defend human rights.
I would like to offer my whole-hearted support for all that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is doing today to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the UN Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This International Human Rights Day is an important signal to people in this country, and in countries across the world, of those fundamental rights which we all in theory share and which sadly we all do not in practice experience. Unjust discrimination is still rife, and those who fight against it are the heroes of this age, often unsung and unfortunately often unable to taste final victory.
'My Committee, like the EHRC, can play its part in helping remove unjust discrimination, and in making clear the direct link between equality issues and human rights. While my Committee, unlike the Commission, does not have the word in its title, “equality” is nonetheless central to much of the work I and my colleagues on the Committee undertake. Working as we do in Parliament, the principle of equality before the law informs how we think and act, and our deliberations help move that notion of equality from the often arid arena of legislation into the heart of debates over policy. I wish the EHRC well in all its work on this very important day!'
On Monday 1 March 2010, prior to the General Election, we hosted a 'Question Time' style debate to explore the major political parties' positions on the future of the Human Rights Act and proposals for a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Find out more and watch video footage of the event.