UPDATE: Deadline for submitting evidence extended until end of Wednesday 6 July 2016!

Whilst engaging with the United Nations (UN) may not be a top priority for some civil society groups, there is a real opportunity for organisations to influence the upcoming review of human rights here at home. Unlike other UN processes, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the only one which all countries at the UN have to undergo every 4.5 years. Civil society groups – like charities, community groups, and others – can influence what issues are picked up in the UPR and the recommendations made to the UK. BIHR’s project, Human Rights Check UK, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is one important way you can get involved. Our call for evidence, accessible here, closes on 6 July 2016.

So why does this matter for civil society groups?

Human rights touch on issues at the heart of our work across civil society. Issues like the welfare system, health and social care, education, equality and anti-discrimination, policing, justice, housing, political participation, and much more. Even if you don’t refer to these as human rights issues, your experiences and evidence will be vital to assessing the human rights situation in the UK.

The UK government will report on its view of human rights here. Importantly the UN will also consider what civil society groups have to say. Take any human rights issues, say access to justice, and it’s likely that the evidence of third sector groups about this issue will be different to that of the UK government. This is where the British Institute of Human Rights’ Human Rights Check UK project comes in, enabling civil society groups to be heard in the UN’s review of human rights here at home.

Be heard at the highest levels

Our call for evidence is open until 6 July 2016. The evidence we receive and together with input from our 8 capacity-building sessions across Great Britain, will help shape the Joint Civil Society Report we submit to the UN in September. Find out more about submitting your evidence here.

We also hope Human Rights Check UK will empower other organisations to submit their own reports to the UN – numbers matter in this process. Find out more about the UPR process, including reporting, in BIHR’s UPR Guide here, or visit the UN pages here.

By getting involved we can influence the UN recommendations for improvements in the UK, providing powerful additions to the third sector toolkit for here at home. Make sure you share your evidence by 6 July!

It was good to reflect on my organisations achievements and contributions to the human rights landscape, as well as to consider what steps we can take to push for more improvements (attendee at a Human Rights Check UK capacity-building session)