On the 75th UN Human Rights Day, we need to protect our Human Rights Act

10 December 2022 marks the start of a yearlong 75th Anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And it’s never been more important to celebrate universal human rights than now, with the UK’s Human Rights Act under threat.

That’s why the Equality Trust has joined with 158 other organisations to issue this letter to our Prime Minister, other leaders, and all people in the UK about why our human rights matter, and why we need to protect them – not scrap them.

So much of our work fighting inequality depends on peoples’ universal human rights being recognised, and the breadth of organisations joining this campaign today shows we’re not alone.

“Human rights are an important means of protection for all of us, particularly those who are most disadvantaged by our unequal society. In countries with high and entrenched levels of inequalities of wealth, income and power like ours it is essential that we defend our Human Rights Act to ensure that people in the UK are protected from the worst abuses of power.”

Jo Wittams, Co-Executive Director

You can read more stories about how why our human rights matter here.

Read the full letter here or below:


Dear Prime Minister and Political Leaders,

This Human Rights Day, as the global community celebrates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we write with heavy hearts that the UK Government’s approach to our domestic law risks taking us further and further away from the legal protection of human rights here at home. This Human Rights Day, the United Nations is calling for action to counter scepticism of, and rollbacks against, human rights, by establishing that human rights are never relative and must always be upheld as what unites all of humanity. 

Our Human Rights Act is built on the foundations of the UDHR. Our Human Rights Act sets out each person’s protections, and the responsibilities of those with governmental power to make real the vision of the UDHR; for us all to live in equal dignity. 

As we face a cost of living crisis forcing millions of people into vulnerability and further discrimination, many having to choose between heating or eating, the last thing anyone needs is for a government to strip away our fundamental legal protections. 

Human rights laws are, necessarily, uncomfortable for governments because they set limits on the exercise of power, limits which are for the benefit of people. No UK Government need fear this; and rather than harking back to Magna Carta and rose-tinted history, should embrace the fact that our Human Rights Act provides universal protections for everyone and ensures those with public power are accountable. 

As civil society groups working hard to protect people’s human rights, and to support people through the cost of living crisis, we want a world in which our political leaders commit to our universal protections, not simply those it finds acceptable. We call on the UK Government, and all political leaders, to share our commitment to everyone’s human rights, and ensure our Human Rights Act is here to stay. Yours sincerely,

The British Institute of Human Rights; Access Social Care; AdviceUK; Advocacy Focus; Age Connects Wales; All Wales People First; Alzheimer Scotland – Action on Dementia; Amnesty International UK Section; Article 39; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID); Asylum Link Merseyside; AVA (Against Violence and Abuse); Back in Control Consultancy CIC; BHA For Equality; Bild; Birthrights; Bristol Somali Resource Centre; British Association of Social Workers; British Geriatrics Society; Campaign for Freedom of Information; Carers UK; C-Change; Centre for Women’s Justice; Certitude; Challenging Behaviour Foundation; Changing Our Lives; Cheshire Disabled People Against Cuts; Child Poverty Action Group; Children England; Children in Scotland; Children in Wales/Plant yng Nghymru; Children’s Law Centre; Children’s Rights Alliance for England; Choice Support; Civil Society Alliance; Cloverleaf Advocacy; Clynfyw Community Interest Company; Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), Scotland; Committee on the Administration of Justice; Communicourt; Dates-n-Mates; Detention Action; Difference North East; Directory of Social Change; Disability Positive; Discrimination Law Association; EachOther; ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking); End Violence Against Women Coalition; English PEN; Equal Rights Trust; Equally Ours; Faiths Forum for London; ForcesWatch; Freedom from Torture; Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland); Friends, Families and Travellers; Garden Court Chambers; Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE); Helen Bamber Foundation; Here NI; Hope for Justice; Hopscotch Women’s Centre; Hourglass (Safer Ageing); Human Rights and Equality Group, Law Society of Northern Ireland; Human Rights Consortium Scotland; Human Rights Watch; Humanist Society Scotland; Humanists UK; Include; Inclusion East CIC; Inclusion Gloucestershire; Inclusion London; Inclusion North; INQUEST; International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute; IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice); Irwin Mitchell LLP; Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; Juno Women’s Aid; Just Fair; Just for Kids Law; JUSTICE; Kinship; Latin American Women’s Rights Service; Law Centres Network; Learning Disability England; Legal Action Group; Legal Aid Practitioners Group; Leigh Day; Liberty; Mary Ward Legal Centre; Migrants’ Rights Network; Mind; Muslim Council of Britain; My Life My Choice; National AIDS Trust; National Alliance of Women’s Organisations; National Care Forum; National Development Team for Inclusion; National Survivor User Network; National Union of Journalists; n-compass Towards a Brighter Future; nia; Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy; Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council; Older People’s Commissioner for Wales; Parkinson’s UK; Pembrokeshire People First; POhWER; Prison Reform Trust; Prisoners’ Advice Service; Quakers in Britain; Race on the Agenda; RAMFEL (Refugee & Migrant Forum of Essex and London); Relatives & Residents Association; Release; René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights; Reporters Without Borders (RSF); Restraint Reduction Network; Rethink Mental Illness; Rightful Lives; Rights of Women; Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP; Runnymede Trust; Scottish Care; Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities; Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO); Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance; Scottish Recovery Consortium; Silverline Memories CIO; SMK Law Solicitors; Southall Black Sisters; Stonewall; Sunderland People First; Sussex Interpreting Service; Tai Pawb; The AIRE Centre; The Equality Trust; The Howard League for Penal Reform; The Judith Trust; The Law Society of Scotland; The National Council for Voluntary Organisations; The Public Interest Litigation Support (PILS) Project; Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights); Transport for All; Turning Point; UNISON; UNJUST; Unlock Democracy; VoiceAbility; Voluntary Organisations Disability Group; Warrington Speak Up; Welsh Refugee Council; WISH; Women’s Budget Group; York Human Rights City Network; Yorkshire MESMAC

Coordinated by the British Insitute of Human Rights (Charity No. 1101575)