On the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the eve of the Brexit Withdrawal Deal vote in parliament, a letter urging the Prime Minister to safeguard human rights at home, has been issued by over 150 organisations from across the UK. The organisations include those working with new mothers, children, carers, people with learning disabilities and mental ill-health, women experiencing violence, migrants, older people, and groups campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights, fair trials, access to justice, decent housing and against racial discrimination.

As the government grapples with the details of the Brexit withdrawal deal, facing potential defeat in the parliament tomorrow, the letter is being released on global Human Rights Day (Monday 10 December) to show the breadth of support for human rights across the UK. Coordinated by British Institute for Human Rights (BIHR), the letter is also supported by Amnesty International UK, Liberty, Justice and Human Rights Watch, together with a range of groups that represent people from all walks of life across the country.

Sanchita Hosali, Director of BIHR, said:

“The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that Magna Carta for all humankind, should be a cause for celebration in the UK. These hard-won and enduring freedoms, which have been brought home through our own Human Rights Act, provide protection for everyone here at home, That is why over 150 groups have joined together to urge the Prime Minister to stand with us and ensure our rights are secured. As we face significant uncertainty around Brexit, now is the time to safeguard our human rights, needed as much today as when the world community set them down 70 years ago.”


Dear Prime Minister

Today, on Human Rights Day, we ask you to join us in celebrating universal human rights in the UK and commit to standing firm on our hard-won freedoms and protections.

Created 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone in human history. Following the horrors of World War II, the world community came together to say never again and set down the protections every person has simply because we are all human.

Heralded as Magna Carta for all human kind, the UDHR has set a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, inspiring law and action across the world.

Through the European Convention on Human Rights and our own Human Rights Act we have brought those rights home, making them real and meaningful for people everyday across the UK.

2019 marks another milestone in our history. As the UK prepares to exit the European Union, and uncertainty surrounds us, we ask you to ensure that our commitment to universal human rights at home remains strong and certain.  

Yours sincerely,

  1. Sanchita Hosali, Director, British Institute of Human Rights
  2. Laura Tween, Director, Able Hands Together C.I.C.
  3. Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Fiona Bawdon, Act for Act
  4. Gary Fitzgerald, CEO, Action on Elder Abuse
  5. Matthew Evans, Director, Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE Centre)
  6. Steve Johnson, Chief Executive, AdviceUK
  7. Justine Hodgkinson, Chief Executive, Advocacy Focus
  8. Jeff Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale
  9. Rachel Rowlands, Chief Executive Officer, Age Connects Morgannwg
  10. Jeff Hawkins, Chair, Age Connects Wales
  11. Joe Powell, National Director, All Wales People First
  12. Henry Simmons, Chief Executive, Alzheimer Scotland
  13. Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer's Society
  14. Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK 
  15. Lynne Tammi, National Co-ordinator, Article 12 in Scotland
  16. Carolyne Willow, Director, Article 39
  17. Yasmin Bukhari, Chair, Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA)
  18. Ewan Roberts, Centre Manager, Asylum Link Merseyside
  19. Donna Covey CBE, Chief Executive, AVA (Against Violence and Abuse)
  20. Priscilla Nkwenti, Chief Executive Officer, BHA for Equality in Health and Social Care
  21. Ben Higgins, CEO, BILD (British Institute of Learning Disabilities)
  22. Amy Gibbs, CEO, Birthrights
  23. Asif Afridi, Deputy CEO, brap
  24. Tom Hore, Director, Bristol Mind
  25. Dr Ruth Allen, CEO, British Association of Social Workers
  26. Maurice Frankel, Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information
  27. Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK 
  28. Caroline Morris, Co-Director, Centre for Small States, QMUL
  29. Harriet Wistrich, Director, Centre for Women’s Justice
  30. Malgosia Fitzmaruice, Jessie Hohmann, Violeta Moreno-Lax, Co-Directors, Centre for European and International Legal Affairs (CEILA) QMUL
  31. Jayne Leeson MBE, CEO, Changing Our Lives
  32. Isabelle Guitard, Director, Child Soldiers International
  33. Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Children in Scotland
  34. Sean O’Neill, Policy Director, Children in Wales – Plant Yng Nghymru
  35. Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Children’s Commissioner for Wales
  36. Louise King, Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law
  37. Simon Topham, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advice York
  38. Jim Bowden, Managing Director, Clynfyw CIC Care Farm
  39. Jatin Haria, Executive Director, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (Scotland)
  40. Brian Gormally, Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
  41. Dr Carol Homden CBE, Chief Executive, Coram
  42. Rhian Davies, Chief Executive, Disability Wales/Anabledd Cymru
  43. Catherine Rayner, Chair, Discrimination Law Association
  44. Catherine Baker, Senior Research, Policy and Campaigns Officer, ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking)
  45. Anna Henry, Director, End Corporal Punishment
  46. Ali Harris, Chief Executive, Equality and Diversity Forum
  47. Jim Fitzgerald and Joanna Whiteman, Co-Directors, Equal Rights Trust
  48. Alex Mik, Campaigns and Networks Director, Fair Trials
  49. Jonathan Hyams, Secretary, Fairness, Respect, Equality Shropshire (FRESh) Ltd
  50. Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
  51. Emma Sangster, Coordinator, ForcesWatch
  52. Steve Crawshaw, Policy & Advocacy Director, Freedom from Torture, Freedom from Torture
  53. Sarah Mann, Director, Friends, Families & Travellers
  54. Marc Willers QC, Joint Head, Garden Court Chambers
  55. Lucy Peake, Chief Executive, Grandparents Plus
  56. Dr Richard Whitehead, Head of Psychology, Head of Psychology, Mersey Care NHS Trust
  57. Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
  58. Kerry Smith, CEO, Helen Bamber
  59. Nathan Sparling, Chief Executive, HIV Scotland
  60. Frances Crook, Chief Executive, Howard League for Penal Reform
  61. Geraldine Van Bueren QC, Director, Human Rights Collegium
  62. Kevin Hanratty, Director, Human Rights Consortium
  63. Benjamin Ward, Acting UK Director, Human Rights Watch
  64. Gordon MacRae, Chief Executive, Humanist Society Scotland
  65. Andrew Copson, CEO, Humanists UK
  66. Henrietta Doyle, Policy Officer, Inclusion London
  67. Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST
  68. Dr Thomas MacManus, Acting Director, International State Crime Initiative
  69. Phanuel Mutumburi, Director, Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality
  70. Laura Ridley, Chair, Jersey Cares; Refugee Aid Group
  71. Satbir Singh, CEO, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
  72. Annette Lawson, Chair, Judith Trust
  73. Jamie Burton, Chair, Just Fair
  74. Nadeem Murtuja, Head of Policy and Change, JUST Yorkshire
  75. Andrea Coomber, Director, Justice
  76. Lucila Granada, Director, Latin American Women's Rights Service
  77. Julie Bishop, Director, Law Centres Network
  78. Alan Hunter, Chief Executive, Law Society of Northern Ireland
  79. Alison Atack, President, Law Society of Scotland
  80. Vicky Buckingham, Lucy Burke, Alicia Wood, Representative Body Co Chairs, Learning Disability England
  81. Steve Hynes, Director, Legal Action Group
  82. Nicola Mackintosh QC (Hon), Jenny Beck, Co-Chairs, Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG)
  83. Sean Humber, Head of Human Rights, Leigh Day Solicitors
  84. Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive, LGBT foundation
  85. Corey Stoughton, Acting Director, Liberty
  86. Anna Gaughan, Chief Executive, Life Story Network
  87. Paula Twigg, Centre Director, Mary Ward Legal Centre
  88. Emma Ginn, Director, Medical Justice
  89. Sarah Jones, CEO, Mencap Liverpool
  90. Zrinka Bralo, Chief Executive, Migrants Organise
  91. Wayne Myslik, Chief Executive, Migrants Resource Centre
  92. Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind
  93. Teresa Jennings, CEO, n|compass northwest
  94. Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT (National AIDS Trust)
  95. Zarin Hainsworth, Chair, National Alliance of Women's Organisations
  96. Paul Marshall, Chief Executive, National Development Team for Inclusion
  97. Stephanie Taylor King, Communications, National Survivor User Network (NSUN)
  98. Zamzam Ibrahim, Vice President Society and Citizenship, National Union of Students
  99. Anjona Roy, Chief Executive, Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council
  100. Mairead McCafferty, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
  101. Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
  102. Heléna Herklots CBE, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
  103. Peter Dawson, Director, Prison Reform Trust
  104. Jo Hickam, Director, Public Law Project
  105. Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
  106. Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, Race On The Agenda
  107. Sally Bourton, Chair, RAY (Refugee Action York)
  108. James Tullett, Chief Executive, Refugee and Migrant Forum Essex & London (RAMFEL)
  109. Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council
  110. Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director, René Cassin
  111. Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  112. Alex Feis-Bryce, CEO, RightsInfo
  113. Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
  114. Yasmin Ahmed, Director, Rights Watch UK
  115. Janine Tregelles, CEO, Royal Mencap Society
  116. Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust
  117. Richard Ashcroft, Head of Department, School of Law, Queen Mary University London
  118. Ceri Smith, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Scope
  119. Donald Macaskill, CEO, Scottish Care
  120. Eamon Keane, Convenor, Scottish Legal Action Group
  121. Anna Fowler, CEO, SCVO
  122. Shoaib M Khan, Human Rights Lawyer, SMK Law Solicitors
  123. Maia Kruger, Coordinator, Songololo Feet
  124. Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters
  125. John Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, St Martin of Tours Housing Association
  126. Paul Twocock, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research, Stonewall
  127. Heidi Travis, Chief Executive, Sue Ryder
  128. Audrey Ludwig, Director, Suffolk Law Centre
  129. Joy Hibbins, Chief Executive, Suicide Crisis
  130. Alicja Zalesinska, Director, Tai Pawb
  131. Nanor Kebranian, Co-Founder and Programme Director, The Centre for Law, Democracy, and Society (CLDS), QMUL
  132. Anna Henry, Director, The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children
  133. Theo Gavrielides, Founder & Director, The IARS International Institute
  134. Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive, the nia project
  135. Yvonne MacNamara, CEO, The Traveller Movement
  136. Anna Gaughan, CEO, tide - together in dementia everyday
  137. Juliet Harris, Director, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
  138. Cate Tuitt, Trustee, Tower Hamlets Law Centre
  139. Leila Zadeh, Executive Director, UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group
  140. Alan Anstead, Coordinator, UK Race and Europe Network
  141. Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
  142. Bridget Warr CBE, Chief Executive, United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA)
  143. Jeremie Gilbert, Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Roehampton
  144. Alexandra Runswick, Director, Unlock Democracy
  145. Tracey Sherlock, Executive Director of Policy & Communications, Welsh Refugee Council
  146. Eleri Butler, Chief Executive, Welsh Women’s Aid
  147. Jonathan Toye, Co-ordinator, West Norfolk Disability information Service (WNDiS)
  148. Karen Blair, Senior Multi Specialist Advocate, Wirral Advocacy Hub, n|compass advocacy
  149. Joyce Kallevik, Director, Wish 
  150. Dr Kate Paradine, Chief Executive, Women in Prison
  151. Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Women’s Aid Federation of England
  152. Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO, Women's Resource Centre
  153. Liz Lockey, Co-ordinator, York Human Rights City
  154. Tom Doyle, Chief Executive, Yorkshire MESMAC
  155. Oliver Carter, Solicitor, Young Legal Aid Lawyers
  156. James Kenrick, Chief Executive, Youth Access




Notes for Editors:

  • For a BIHR spokesperson please contact Leonard Lewis 0207 882 5850 / [email protected] (out of office Sanchita Hosali 07811 457343).
  • For over 45 years the British Institute of Human Rights, a UK-wide independent human rights charity, has worked to bring rights to life here at home. We help people to know what human rights are (and are not), to put their human rights into practice to achieve positive change in everyday life without resorting to the courts, and to make sure that those in power respect our human rights laws and systems. For more information visit www.bihr.org.uk, Twitter: @BIHRhumanrights
  • Human Rights Day, on 10 December, marks the day in 1948 when the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UK provided one of the eight drafters who, alongside US former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, produced the 30 Articles of the UDHR, recognising the “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. The European Convention on Human Rights enforces many of the rights set out in the UDHR and the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 brings those rights home in the UK.