Human rights group makes voice heard

A global justice initiative unveiled at Edinburgh in 2013 has drawn up a series of proposals to boost human rights.

The Global Citizenship Commission – launched by Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown – has issued a report re-examining the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

McEwan Hall launch

The Commission, composed of notable public leaders and thinkers, held its inaugural at the University’s McEwan Hall. At the same event, education campaigner Malala was presented with an honorary degree.

The Pakistani teenager, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taleban, was awarded the degree in recognition of her efforts to improve educational opportunities for children.

The proposals

Recommendations by the Commission include a call to the international community that it should recognise that asylum seekers have three inalienable rights.

These are a right to security in transit; a right to a fair and responsible process at borders; and a right to good reason for a refusal to allow entrance or settlement.

The Commission has also urged the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, France, Canada, Russia and China – to voluntarily suspend their veto in situations involving mass atrocities.

Other key proposals include a call for an international children’s court to be established. The Commission has also recommended that the UN Security Council should convene a Children’s Council – an annual review on violations of children’s rights.

Making human rights relevant

The Commission is organised in conjunction with New York University, where Edinburgh alumnus Mr Brown is a Global Fellow. The initiative is supported by the Carnegie UK Trust.

We are really pleased to see this report and will study its recommendations closely. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights remains an amazing achievement, and any attempt to articulate its on-going relevance to our contemporary context is very useful.  Human rights remain vital to preventing and resolving conflict throughout the world.

Professor Christine Bell Global Justice Academy Co-Director

We are very proud that the Commission was launched at the University, with Malala Yousafzai and we note the important recommendations for children. We hope our students, many of whom were present that day, will take inspiration from the Commission’s work.

Senior Vice Principal Charlie Jeffery

The Global Justice Academy

The University has a number of staff and students working in fields related to the aims of the Commission.

These include members of the Global Justice Academy (GJA), one of four Global Academies at Edinburgh. It is committed to bringing together people from a wide range of disciplines in order to better address complex problems around the world.

The GJA works with students, through its Human Rights Courses, to encourage greater understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It supports students, staff and the wider public to make submissions to future meetings of the Global Citizenship Commission.