Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that every person in the world has from birth to death, simply because they are a human being.
Human rights are protected by law in the UK. While many people are familiar with civil and political rights such as Freedom of Speech, there is another set of rights that are equally important. These are economic and social rights (ESR) which are the essential conditions needed to live a life of equality, dignity and freedom. They include the right to work and workers’ rights, social security, health, education, food, water, housing and an adequate standard of living. They are day-to-day rights that affect us from when we wake up in the morning to when (even where) we go to sleep at night.
The UK has recognised the importance of human rights by signing various international documents, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Among other things, this document says that governments must:
Respect rights - not prevent people from enjoying them
Protect rights - not allow others to prevent people from enjoying them
Fulfil rights - take measures to move towards full realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.
The Added Value of Human Rights
What difference do human rights make to our efforts to make change happen? They help to:
Build local knowledge and understanding of our rights
Develop skills community-based research, leadership and mobilisation and campaigning
Challenge established power structures, raising the voices and experiences of communities experiencing inequality and injustice
Drive social change from a rights-based perspective, on the issues that communities identify as their priorities
Bring people together even when they are working on issues that don’t seem linked
You can use a human rights to achieve the change you want to see. This is known as a rights-based approach. We use a helpful acronym to make sure our efforts are making the most of a rights-based approach - PANEL.
PANEL uses five key principles of human rights:
These principles create opportunities to promote fairer structures, policies and cultures. Using PANTHER can help you to focus on the needs of different people while maintaining a baseline of provision for all.
How would you use PANEL in your campaigning and work?