Connect with us

“Anti-poverty policies must be grounded in everyday rights”, this was one of the key messages from Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights at our major conference ‘Everyday human rights – the route to a better UK’ held earlier this month in Westminster.

Five years on from former UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s visit to the UK, our conference was attended by over 150 delegates, who heard from speakers on the state of poverty, inequality and human rights in the UK, and potential solutions. 

Chaired by our Director, Jess McQuail and Shameem Ahmad, CEO, Public Law Project, our speakers were:

  • Olivier De Schutter, current UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
  • Philip Alston, Professor of Law at New York University, and former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
  • Rory Weal, Senior Policy, and Public Affairs Manager, the Trussell Trust
  • Emma Roddick MSP, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, Scottish Government
  • Patricia Leatham, direct experience testimony
  • Ian Byrne, MP for Liverpool, West Derby
  • Jamie Burton KC, Chair, Just Fair
  • Helen Flynn, Head of Policy, Research and Campaigns, Just Fair
  • Kate Ewing, Researcher, Just Fair

Delegates heard evidence that poverty and inequality remain persistent in the UK, and for some it has got a lot worse, that UK Government and public authorities have a duty to uphold existing human rights obligations and are failing, and it is time for us to bring our everyday rights – like housing, healthcare and education – into our domestic laws, across the UK.

There was also a sense of optimism as Emma Roddick MSP set out how Scotland is blazing the trail for domestic incorporation of our everyday rights, and her hope that this would mean “further realisation of rights across the UK and the world”.

Jess concluded by stating “Just Fair hopes this conference marks a turning point in the campaign to recognise everyday rights as the permanent, lasting solutions to poverty and inequality”, and invited everyone to join us in promoting and protecting these rights.

Some feedback from delegates:

“Excellent in-depth presentations about the application of rights in reality and the importance of continuing to pursue direct incorporation”

“I have not so clearly heard poverty, food and homelessness framed as human rights issues before, this will be very useful in campaigning work.” 

“The coming together of like-minded people, in similar areas of work, brought a sense of hope”

“Hearing Helen Flynn, Jess, Rory speak of the goals was uplifting. UN Rapporteur Olivier, MP Byrne, MSP Emma and KC Jamie shows that at the highest level these issues are getting voiced. Gives me hope as parent and lived experience of injustices that change will come, though may be a little way off due to system government ‘stuck in the mud’ mindset”.

Accompanying media coverage included:

UN poverty expert: ‘UK policies continue to inflict misery’ (The Big Issue)

UK ‘in violation of international law’ over poverty levels, says UN envoy (The Guardian)

Homelessness, Destitution, and Hunger Soar in the UK (Human Rights Watch) 

The UK government has failed to act on extreme poverty (The BMJ)

A full conference report and associated materials will be published at the end of November.  

Sign up to our e-newsletter to receive these materials in your inbox.

Sign up to our UK ESCR Network to get involved in the campaign.

Background image by Maria Picassó i Piquer