Modern human rights laws are the direct result of the civilised world’s response to the horrors of the Holocaust. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights were both drawn up to say, ‘Never Again!’ and to protect people from oppressive governments.
Defending this legacy requires more than just campaigning on individual human rights issues. For without an understanding of the values that underpin the human rights framework, the victories of the past seven decades will constantly be at risk.
René Cassin is committed to remaking the case for human rights and values with all the people, leaders, communities and national institutions whom we meet. The human rights legacy bequeathed to us by the generation who survived the Second World War and Holocaust needs constant reinvigoration within the Jewish community and within the broader public sphere. This is a mission we proudly undertake.
Reinvigorating Human Rights through our partnerships
René Cassin has worked across the institutions of the Jewish community to create support for human rights. We have seen human rights become part of the official language of the Board of Deputies, leading Jewish newspapers, Rabbis and communities.
We have also ensured that the voice of the Jewish community has been heard in the national and international institutions charged with interpreting, defending and legislating for human rights. We have presented the Jewish case for human rights to the UK Government and, notably, to the United Nations 2017 Periodic Review of Human Rights in the UK.
We are also members of UK’s most important human rights advocacy group – the Human Rights Alliance – and ensure that its lobbying and advocacy of Government on this issue is always informed by our community’s experiences and values.
“The European Convention on Human Rights, on which the Human Rights Act is based, was Europe’s response to the horror of the Holocaust. As leaders and members within the Jewish community, we would oppose any attempt to water down a document that gives practical expression to the idea that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and receive equal access to justice.”Letter signed by 50 Rabbis to the Justice Secretary
Mobilising the Jewish community to defend Human Rights
Our efforts to date have shown that the UK’s Jewish community retains a huge interest in and passion for the post-war framework of universal human rights. We regularly ask lay leaders and Rabbis to join in support of our campaign, reminding the government about the need to put this country at the forefront of protecting and promoting human rights, through keeping the UK’s Human Rights Act and our continued commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights
To bring the threat to our post-War human rights legacy to a wider audience, we have run a series of public lectures, panel discussions and discussion forums. Very often, we have had to move our event to a larger venue to cope with sell-out crowds. These events have seen some of the UK’s most distinguished supporters of human rights articulating both the threat to universal human rights, and the importance of preserving them.
Our annual Human Rights Shabbat helps us raise awareness of human rights and contemporary human rights issues in synagogues, youth groups and other community organisations around the country. Human Rights Shabbat takes place on the closest Shabbat to International Human Rights Day on 10th December. We provide programming, speakers and resources so that at least one day each year, Jewish communities celebrate human rights.
Read or download Making the Jewish Case for Human Rights in the UK as a PDF