Today is International Human Rights Day. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights. from this came the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and our UK and Scottish provisions.
This year the United Nations calls on us to celebrate human rights defenders who act to end discrimination. These defenders speak out against discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence. In Scotland, human rights defenders can be found in our local communities and in our public services. A wide range of public service staff are human rights defenders, striving to protect and promote the dignity of those they serve.
Scotland's Human Rights Commissioner gives us some practical examples of applying human rights law in an article in today's Herald. “If someone is left in what amounts to degrading treatment, and cuts have been made without assessing the impact on their human rights, local authorities are likely to face challenges..... Public bodies need to be able to demonstrate that they have assessed the impact on vulnerable people in the community, that decision-making is proportionate and that individuals have been consulted. As awareness of the Human Rights Act increases, it is more likely that public authorities will be held to account and asked to justify that they were acting lawfully.” he said.
Another group whose human rights are often abused are Scottish gypsy travellers. UNISON Scotland is planning to produce a guidance booklet aimed particular at our members who interface with this community. I have circulated a publication brief today inviting bids to undertake this work for us. If you might be interested and want a copy of the brief, please contact me.
Human rights are also crucial to trade unions and EPSU are highlighting one such example today. Trade union leader Brother Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez was assinated on 12 November 2010. He was the President of the Water District Union in the Laguna district of the Philippines. He was a strong advocate for the basic human and labour rights of the people and, in particular, against the privatisation of water services in the Philippines.
On International Human Rights Day EPSU have asked for clarification about what the stance of the EU is with regards to the Right to Water. Legally, the Human Rights Council resolution of September 30th following the General Assembly Resolution makes the human right to water and sanitation legally binding on all EU Member States. They have suggested that the Commission publishes a clear position on how it intends to implement the human right to water and sanitation in Member States’ and EU policy and to mainstream this human right in all policies of the EU such as on Poverty and Development.