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UN Recognise the Work Seven Towers Residents Group

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recognised the work of the Belfast based Seven Towers Residents Group as an international best practice example of using international human rights standards to make local change.

The publication Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation’  cited the Seven Towers use of human rights indicators and benchmarks as “an example of how people can effectively use indicators to claim their rights.” The report examines different methods of monitoring government activity in order to make improvements to the social and economic condition of the most marginalised in society.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, pointed to the recent Arab Spring uprisings as an example of where official government statistics on the well-being of a country do not square with the reality for the marginalised in those same countries.

The group’s work has also been used by Dr Helen Potts in the University of Essex’s publication on the right to participation. In 2009, Seven Towers’ residents sent a delegation to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights examination of the UK government and secured housing recommendations relating to Catholic families in north Belfast in the Concluding Observation of the Committee’s report.

The Seven Towers’ residents, who recently launched their Equality Can’t Wait campaign, have been effectively monitoring the Minister for Social Development and service delivery agencies, such as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, since 2007. The story of how the group began to use PPR’s approach can be viewed here.

Commenting on the purpose of the recent report, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated:

“Most importantly, we should never forget that behind every piece of statistical data are human beings who were born free and equal in dignity and rights. We must strive to make their human rights stories, especially those of the powerless, visible through robust indicators and to use them in constantly improving our human rights policies and implementation systems to bring positive change to people’s lives.”