One of the many ways we're celebrating Human Rights Day is through an exciting panel discussion in the Houses of Parliament, kindly hosted by Lord Low and Baroness Prashar. This year Human Rights Day takes on special significance as this year is the 15th anniversary of the UK’s Human Rights Act being in force. We will be using this event to celebrate and reflect on 15 years of universal human rights protections here at home.

We have convened an expert panel of speakers, including Sir Nicolas Bratza, former president of the European Court of Human Rights, Simon Israel, Channel 4 news presenter, Imran Khan, leading human rights lawyer who represented Stephen Lawrence’s family, Ray Walker, Executive Director of Nursing from Mersey Care NHS Trust, and Mark Neary, human rights campaigner, and for whom the Human Rights Act was vital in bringing home his son Steven when the authorities unlawfully detained him after respite care.

The event will have a media focus as Channel 4 News’ Simon Israel delivers a keynote speech on ‘Telling the story of the Human Rights Act: reflections on 15 years in the media spotlight’. We will also be using it as an opportunity to launch the first edition of Human Writes, our new newspaper, which tells stories of how the Human Rights Act has been used to make a positive difference in everyday life. 

Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights, who will open the event, said:

“As Human Rights Day is celebrated across the globe and around the UK, this is an opportunity for us to reflect on the progress made at home on human rights, this year being the 15th anniversary of our own Human Rights Act. But it is also a time to reflect on the threat to our domestic human rights protections. The UK has long shown leadership on human rights internationally, but this risks being jeopardised by the current government policy to ‘scrap’ our Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’.

Our Human Rights Act is based on the universal human rights being celebrated around the world today, and our shared values like dignity, respect and equality. It provides a crucial safety net for us all.

At BIHR we see from our work with individuals and organisations working on the ground how vital human rights are for all people, but especially the most vulnerable in our society, in helping to protect us when the system fails.

As the Human Rights Act turns 15, this important event gives us space to reflect on its impact so far and look to its precarious future. We look forward to launching Human Writes which reports on the real life stories of human rights, which we don’t hear from many of our political leaders, about the positive difference the Human Rights Act is making across the UK.”