COMMENT & ANALYSIS The Future of Human Rights At BIHR we believe that human rights are the cornerstone of a modern democratic society, providing the rule book for governments on how they should treat us. In this way human rights provide a vital safety-net for us all, setting out the basic minimums that everyone should have simply because we are human. Here at home our Human Rights Act provides the foundation which helps to make this a reality, ensuring our rights and freedoms are protected by the law of the land. Find out more about your human rights here. Why human rights at home matter Through our unique projects BIHR sees how human rights laws are not simply about courtrooms, but are about ensuring each of us are treated with equal dignity and respect in daily life. We see how human rights can improve policy making, strengthen campaigning, and empower people to make sure those in power play fair. We see how human rights can be a helping hand for public services, supporting them to become better at what they do. Whether organisations are delivering services, tackling discrimination, or increasing opportunities for the most marginalised, human rights can help achieve positive social change in our communities. What we think about current debates Supporting the Human Rights Act is not about party politics. When the Human Rights Act 1998 was passed it was with cross-party support by parliament. The Human Rights Act does not belong to any particular political party; the two previous governments (Labour and the Coalition) were both critical of the law and looked to replace it. This is not surprising, the whole point of human rights is to set the rules on government. Human rights laws mean no government gets to pick and choose who counts. Setting human rights down in laws like the Human Rights Act means accepting that governments and public officials can be held to account. And that will inevitably lead to decisions governments do not like. Sadly, rather than our human rights laws being respected as the hallmark of a civilised society, they have become a political football in the increasingly negative debates among some politicians and media outlets. Current government policy focuses on "scrapping" the Human Rights Act in favour of a new law, which is being described as a bill of rights. Modern bills of rights are about setting out the universal human rights people have and the duties of the governments to respect these rights. This is precisely what the Human Rights Act does, something the current debates ignore. At BIHR we are concerned about these debates. We think that before the conversation moves on to changing our human rights laws, people should be empowered to know what the Human Rights Act is (and is not), understanding how it works not just in the courts but in our everyday lives. That foundation enables people to make informed decisions about whether there is in fact a problem that requires change, and what that change should look like. Take action, sign the Human Rights Charter If you think human rights are something to be proud of, you can get involved and support our Human Rights Charter. The Human Rights Charter is a simple promise we can all make to show our support for human rights. Find out more here.