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Human Rights Day, a day of celebration, of remembrance and of recommitment

A Blog Post 

by Joe Stockley, Researcher, Diverse Cymru

“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the centre of the universe.” –

Elie Wiesel

Today, the 10th of December, is Human Rights Day, a day of celebration, of remembrance, and of recommitment. It is 70 years since 1948, 70 years today from the date that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you haven’t refreshed your reading of this seminal text, take five minutes to do so with this quick video from The Human Rights Action Centre:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Video has sound)

There has rarely been greater need.

In The UK, the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts that by 2021-22, nearly 40% of our children will be living in poverty[1]. A fifth of our population do so now. Where is the upholding of Article 22, the right to social security, and article 3, the right to life, liberty and security of person?

In his visit to the UK, Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights summarised that: “The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice… Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so”[2]

In order to curtail this rising tide of a poorer humanity, and a poorer Wales, more must be done. There is a belief among politicians that employment is the answer, that individuals should work, and therefore be free from poverty. But with the proliferation of zero-hour contracts, poor pay (25% of jobs in Wales are below living wage[3], and this figure is rising year on year), and a fragile future, ‘Employment as the answer’ looks to be an increasingly tenuous statement.

What then, is the answer?

A return to our Human Rights, with an enshrinement of that Declaration in our statutes when we fall out of the EU – an enshrinement that does not currently exist.  The EU laws on Human Rights are currently a backstop, when the UK leaves, they will no longer apply (though the UK government seems to believe our rights are already sustained by current UK statute).

The human rights that have been so supportive of the development of humankind across the last 70 years should be revisited, and defended. Discrimination must be challenged, in all its forms, and an equitable future for the people of Wales must be sustained.

 

[1] https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/10028

[2] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Poverty/EOM_GB_16Nov2018.pdf

[3] https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/uk/pdf/2018/11/kpmg-living-wage-research-2018.pdf