Human Rights Policy Adviser Sarah Smith outlines the range of human rights activity carried out at the Law Society, and explains how you can get involved.
The Law Society carries out a wide range of human rights work both domestically and internationally, and there are plenty of ways for you to get involved.
One of our longstanding programmes called ’Lawyers for Lawyers’ seeks to protect and support lawyers and judges across the globe.
This programme relies on the dedication of Law Society members who draft interventions to governments and authoritative bodies in support of lawyers, judges, and their co-workers, whose human rights have been violated or who risk intimidation, assault or other interference for carrying out their legitimate duties.
We have investigated over 100 cases in the past 12 months and have intervened in over 70 individual cases from more than 15 different jurisdictions.
In 2014 we were accredited with Special Consultative status at the UN, providing us with an unrivalled platform to raise the plight of these lawyers and encourage others to act.
We have already used the UN to raise concerns about lawyers and the rule of law in Malaysia, Mexico, the UK, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, and will continue to do so.
Another area of human rights that the Law Society is working tirelessly to promote is business and human rights.
Our recent ’Business and Human Rights programme’ recognises that law firms are under increasing pressure to recognise human rights, not only due to corporate responsibility obligations, but also the needs of their clients.
We are have just finished delivering a process of engagement and consultation with solicitors across England and Wales.
Last, but certainly not least, is our work around defending human rights values in the UK. Our domestic law reform work, which focuses on the domestic legislative and administrative human rights regime, will soon be hotting up.
As no doubt most of you reading this will be aware, announcements on a British bill of rights are anticipated. We strongly support the principles behind the Human Rights Act 1998 and will be speaking out loud and clear, calling for those values to be retained.
Finally we are always looking for solicitors and students to participate in our work - whether it is joining our International Action Team, attending our events and training, engaging with us on policy issues or simply receiving our monthly update.
So whatever your background - if you are interested in human rights, please do get in touch.
About the author
Sarah Smith is the human rights and rule of law policy adviser at the Law Society, covering both domestic and international issues. Sarah has over nine years’ experience working in development and human rights including projects throughout South America and Europe.