By Guest Blogger: Vicky and Kerry of the Swansea University Human Rights Action Society (SUHRA), and one of BIHR’s Human Rights Champions
As a human rights-based society, we think that the protection of human rights is paramount. Our student society was founded on three key aims, and one of these was to raise awareness. We have found that many people in the student body do not know what their basic human rights are so we sought to encourage our peers to participate in Human Rights Day on the 10th December. One of the ways we did this was by asking them what human rights they are thankful for, and what they mean to them, as shown on our graffiti wall.
It was particularly interesting to see how international students viewed their rights differently. It gave us the opportunity to have extended conversations about the importance of human rights, which was extremely insightful, and not a conversation you hear everyday.
Another of our aims as a human rights society is to get the student body involved. At our Human Rights Day event we tried to get everyone thinking about their human rights and hopefully reminded everyone that they are fortunate to have their rights protected by legislation such as the Human Rights Act 1998. We were also happy to see how eager the students were to sign BIHR’s Human Rights Charter to support Human Rights in our country.
Although human rights are largely seen in a national or international sphere, we feel it is important to acknowledge the local communities, and to acknowledge that human rights violations do happen here in the UK. Our third and final aim as a society, is to impact the local community. Although this event was on campus and particularly targeted the students, our hope is that those who did get involved can carry on the message to the wider community.
The most successful way to ensure we keep our human rights protection is to let everyone know that they have them. We decided that the way we would address this is with students; with the view that these students will one day go out into the world and become a part of the work force, perhaps in positions of power making decisions affecting the lives of others. Once an individual is aware of these rights, they are able to start challenging violations of them, enabling them to communicate with others and share the importance of human rights and how they affect everyone and everything that we do.