Edmund Rice European Province Side Event
On 4th May, 2017, the United Kingdom’s human rights record was reviewed at the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review process.
In the lead-up to the UPR, the Edmund Rice Network’s European Province made a submission via ERI detailing the UK government’s failure to meet its obligations in tackling food poverty, homelessness and the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. This submission was based on the Network’s involvement in social justice and outreach ministries in Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast and drew on evidence and experience of outside agencies across all three sectors.
Following ERI’s lobbying efforts with permanent missions in Geneva and the Network’s own campaigns raising awareness of the issues central to the submission, a panel of people involved in compiling the report travelled to Geneva to deliver a Side Event to further highlight the reality of life for the marginalised in the UK.
The panel was representative of the diverse and far-reaching nature of the submission and included Cormac McArt (Manager, Westcourt Centre, Belfast), Tom Murray (Advocacy and Youth Development, ER Network), David Kavanagh (ER Network), Sandra Moore (Chief Executive, Welcome Organisation), Lynda Battarbee (North West regional Manager, Trussell Trust) and Jackie Naraynsingh (Real Food Programme Manager).
Central to the panel’s presentation were the latest developments across all three areas of the submission. Statistics and contemporary reports only emphasise the increased challenges facing people affected by all three issues and serve to highlight the relevance of the recommendations contained within the submission. The event was attended by over 30 people including staff from English Edmund Rice Schools who were receiving their first taste of the human rights mechanisms at the UN. Notably, the UK delegation also sent representation so the panel felt safe in the knowledge that their voices are being heard by this that matter.
However, it is clear to all those involved in the submission that the hard work starts here! In order to bring about change, advocacy and a rights-based approach must be at the heart of everything we do in schools and throughout the wider Network. We have a solid foundation, people passionately committed to the promotion of advocacy in their ministries, and staff in schools who have been inspired by what they’ve seen and heard. Now we need to harness that energy and speak for the voiceless minorities in the UK and beyond.
As John Toal, a teacher at St Anselm’s College, said at the end of our Side Event, “ERI, and its associated agencies, exist to globalise local issues and localise global issues. In its endeavours it celebrates and advocates Compassion as its foundation, Education as its focus, and Justice at its future.”
Tom Murray, Youth Development Co-ordinator
O God, we thank you for the life of Edmund Rice.
He opened his heart to Christ present in those oppressed by poverty and injustice.
May we follow his example of faith and generosity.
Grant us the courage and compassion of Edmund as we seek to live lives of love and service.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.