Over the last few months, in line with our new Strategy for 2023-25, we have been putting our new framework for how we work with grassroots activists and organisations into practice.
We are all entitled to decent work, a safe home, a good life. But living costs are skyrocketing, our social security and healthcare systems are on their knees, over 130,000 children are growing up experiencing homelessness in temporary accommodation, and millions of families are unable to access or afford the food they need.
This not fair, and these are all everyday human rights issues.
In the UK, the UK Government and public authorities have legal obligations to realise people’s rights and should be held to account when they fail to do this.
Civil society activists and organisations are experts in the realities faced by their communities and best placed to hold authorities to account but may not necessarily frame these experiences as violations of our everyday – economic, social and cultural – human rights.
When communities and organisations use economic, social and cultural rights in their campaigns, good things happen.
For example, the Participation and the Practice of Rights project and the Scottish Human Rights Commission have worked in Belfast and Leith to support communities experiencing poor housing conditions to claim their rights and tackle substandard living conditions, including damp, mould, pests, and maintenance issues. Tenants were supported to take part in measuring and monitoring the ways in which their everyday rights are upheld and hold local authorities to account where they neglected their legal duties. As a result, tenants saw improvements not only in their housing and services, but in their confidence and access to their rights to health, food, and participation in the life of their community.
At Just Fair, we are ensuring that the United Nations hears directly from those experiencing poverty and other rights violations. This has included supporting the Growing Rights Instead of Poverty Partnership (GRIPP), to submit a joint report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) review of the UK. Being written and researched by people with direct experience of poverty and economic, social and cultural rights violations, GRIPP’s submission stands out, highlighting issues that are too often overlooked – GRIPP member ATD Fourth World’s submission encouraged CESCR to review the rights of children and young people in the care system in the UK for the very first time.
We want more civil society activists and organisations to have the confidence to use human rights in their own campaigns, especially those systematically excluded from and underrepresented in public life.
So, in the next few months we will be offering activists and organisations expert training sessions, dedicated resources and bespoke approaches, aimed at building confidence and capacity to use economic, social and cultural rights in their campaigns.
The next date in our training calendar is Tuesday 19 September 12:00 – 13:30. This session is free and will held via Zoom. It is open to any civil society activist wanting to know more.