Poverty & Inequality in the UK: Proud to be British?

By Andrew Fagan

Today the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty, Philip Alston, presents his report on the UK to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Publish following his visit to the UK in November 2018, Alston’s report attracted a great deal of media attention. His report unequivocally condemns the UK government for its systematic violation of many of its obligations under international law, particularly core economic and social rights.

The picture he presents of the acute and chronic symptoms of poverty in the UK tallies with other studies and will be all-too familiar to those whose lives the report documents. It may also have caused some shock and consternation to those who imagined that contemporary Britain was a fair and equitable place to live.

Alston’s account of the extent of poverty and destitution across the UK continues to attract commentary and analysis. In this short piece, I shall consider the UK government’s response to Alston’s report. I situate my analysis by drawing upon  a variously attributed and variably paraphrased quotation: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest members.”  In considering the government’s response to Alston’s report, I extend the moral frame of the quote to include not only how the government is treating the very many vulnerable people living in the UK, but also how it evaluatesand assessesits own track-record in this area. An already calamitous situation can be made so much worse if those who created it refuse to take responsibility for the harm others must endure. Continue reading

‘The Birmingham LGBT protests’: A reimagining of the decision in Lee v Ashers

By Damilola Ojuri

On 31 May, an interim injunction was granted to Birmingham City Council in its claim against the Anderson Park Primary School “LGBT teaching” protesters, led by Shakeel Afsar. The without notice claim was brought to “protect staff and pupils” who encountered the protesters. On 10 June, the interim injunction was quashed, and was replaced by an interim order which bans the lead protestors, including Mr Afsar, from engaging in or coordinating the protest.

The protests have garnered much media attention, with some campaigners alluding to a dismissal of their Article 10 right to Freedom of Expression. Save for examinations of the conditions of the injunction, the legal world has yet to consider the practical merit of the two sides of argument as it relates to discrimination law and human rights law.

Such cases, where two sets of rights are opposed, have the potential to engage the age-old debate of the superiority of certain liberties over others. Continue reading

Essex Human Rights Clinic Digital Verification Unit Participates in Amnesty International Summit in Hong Kong

By Daragh Murray

From Sunday 2 June to Wednesday 5 June 2019, the Human Rights Centre Clinic Digital Verification Unit participated at the annual Amnesty International Digital Verification Corps (DVC) Summit, held this year in Hong Kong.

The summit was organised by Amnesty International, and hosted by the Human Rights Hub at Hong Kong University. Students from the University of Essex, the University of Pretoria, the University of Toronto, the University of Cambridge, Hong Kong University, and the University of California Berkeley all participated, along with expert speakers from Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team, Witness, the Mekong Club, Diginex, and Amnesty International China.

The purpose of the summit is to bring together student teams from around the world in order to share their experiences of working within the Digital Verification Corps, to identify lessons learned, and to plan for the coming years. The first annual summit was held in Berkeley in 2017, with the second event taking place in Cambridge in 2018. The Essex Digital Verification Unit is one of the founding members of the Corps, and has been undertaking work in this area since 2016.

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Businesses and Enforced Disappearances: The Mexican State of Coahuila transfers its human rights obligations to business actors

By Paulina Madero Suarez

The international humanrights frameworkdefines enforced disappearance as a deprivation of liberty by the State or persons acting with its authorisation, followed by the refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty and the concealment of the whereabouts of the disappeared person, placing the individual outside the protection of the law. Enforced disappearances place specific international legal obligations on the State, including the duty to provide victims with reparation.

Human rights law primarily concerns States, although there is a growing international consensus that non-state actors, including corporations, should respect human rights. An interesting question that arises, however, is whether States can transfer their human rights obligations to private entities? Continue reading