René Cassin works to protect and promote the rights of vulnerable individuals and communities – particularly on issues that resonate with the Jewish experience:
After the Holocaust and many times since, we have said ‘Never Again’ – but ‘Again’ continues to happen across the world. René Cassin is working to highlight China’s brutal repression – including: mass detention, forced labour, forced sterilisation, destruction of religious sites, near-total digital surveillance – of its Uyghur Muslim minority. The US and UK have both labelled the Chinese government’s actions as ‘genocide’.
Across the world women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties and high rates of unemployment. Although women make up the majority of front-line workers, they are underrepresented in national and global policy-making spaces. At René Cassin, our vision is of a world where everyone fully enjoys all their human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Slavery calls to mind images of the Israelites in Egypt or the trans-Atlantic trade, but it is here and it is now – in the UK today there are an estimated 136,000 victims of slavery or trafficking. René Cassin wants the Jewish community to think about this, and what we can do, during the festival of Pesach.
In Britain we are currently seeing an overall rise in hate crime, which affects all minority communities. Hostility or prejudice against any community, whether motivated by religion or faith, disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, or a combination of characteristics, is unacceptable and stands in stark contrast to the legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Throughout history, the ability to seek refuge has been essential to Jewish survival. However, in the UK today, those seeking refuge can be indefinitely locked up in immigration detention centres. As an essential step towards a fairer system, René Cassin has long campaigned for the introduction of a 28-day time limit on detention. René Cassin also supports alternatives to detention, which would make the immigration process more humane, more effective, and less costly.
Gypsies and Travellers share a history of persecution with Jewish people. Both were targeted by the Nazis during World War II. The consequences today are real – life expectancy for a Romani Gypsy or Irish Traveller is 10 years less than the UK average. René Cassin is working to expose this ‘the last bastion of acceptable racism’ through education and advocacy.
Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, nearly 8.4 million adults and children living in the UK struggle to access the food they need. Everyone has the right to enjoy safe, nutritious and sustainable food. Our right to food campaign advocates the realisation of the Right to Food in UK law.
The Human Rights Act protects the rights of vulnerable people and minorities. But that protection could be seriously limited if the Act is repealed, amended or replaced. René Cassin believes that Jewish people have an important stake in this debate and is making sure our leaders know this.