On 24 April 2017, York declared itself the UK’s first Human Rights City, the culmination of six years’ preparation work. The declaration secured cross-party political support in the city and widespread interest from local civil society and business.
The York: Human Rights City Network (YHRCN) has evolved since then to become a strong civil society initiative with close relationships with local statutory bodies and intellectual leadership from the Centre for Applied Human Rights.
Through our work in the city we have been able to model a new approach to human rights, intervening in an integrated way to inform policy and practice, public awareness and action, and protection for vulnerable groups. Human rights is often criticised for being too adversarial: the YHRCN approach to social change seeks a mature relationship with the City of York Council and other power-holders in the city, combining collaboration and critique, as well as aiming to reclaim a positive image for human rights by addressing local, everyday concerns.
In 2018 the City of York Council established a Human Rights and Equalities Board, whose purpose is to implement strategies to address shortfalls in human rights that have been identified through our annual indicator report, and inform a systemic approach to human rights within the Council.
An annual indicator report assessing progress against five priority rights chosen as local priorities (education, housing, health and social care, a decent standard of living, and equality and non-discrimination) is at the heart of the YHRCN policy and outreach work. The network also delivers ‘Opinionate’ workshops to secondary school students, supports the annual York Disability Week and York International Women’s Week programmes, participates in a number of local social justice-related initiatives, and more.
York: Human Rights City
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Human rights indicator report
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