Northern city to place human rights at the centre of all policies
YORK is to become the first human-rights city in Britain, it was announced yesterday.
The accolade, to be formally declared by Mayor of York Dave Taylor later this month, will place human rights at the heart of the city’s future policies and plans.
York joins more than 30 human-rights cities around the world including Graz and Vienna in Austria, Seattle in the US and Edmonton in Canada. Such cities explicitly refer to the UN’s universal declaration of human rights in their everyday activities.
York Human Rights City Network (YHRCN), a partnership between the University of York’s centre for applied human rights and a number of other organisations in the city, secured the move.
The group, which has since expanded to include the council and police, was launched in 2011 with the aim of declaring York a human-rights city this year.
YHRCN’s Stephen Pittam said: “York has the ambition to use human rights in decision-making, promote awareness and debate about human rights and ensure all residents’ rights are respected.
“Each existing humanrights city has built on its own particular history when seeking to give local content to the label. In both the past and present, York has a strong record of activity in the field of social justice.
“We want to act as a catalyst for York people, organisations and business to champion a vibrant, diverse, fair and safe city.”
The declaration will be made at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in York on April 24 and will be attended by York Central MP Rachael Maskell and Councillor Thomas Rajakovics of Graz in Austria.
Human rights charity Liberty director Martha Spurrier said: “In uncertain and divisive times like these, it’s our shared values of compassion, dignity, fairness, justice and equality that bind us together and make our communities stronger.
“Human rights begin at home — and it’s more important than ever that we celebrate and protect them.
“York has created a powerful positive vision for the kind of city it wants to be: one where all residents know their rights and where those rights are respected. Hopefully other cities — and our leaders in Westminster — will follow its lead.”