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10 Years of REACH’s Advocacy Practice Award: Taking Human Rights based Advocacy Forward

In 2013, REACH developed our SQA Advocacy Practice Award with the goal of educating people in human rights and advocacy across Scotland. In 2015 we received accredited training centre status, and after receiving funding in 2017, we were able to begin delivering on a human right based approach to advocacy practice more widely.

As REACH celebrates 10 years of our Advocacy Practice Award, we are excited to share the development of an operational definition of Human Rights based Advocacy (HRbA)™, as a reflection of a decade of work in this field, founded in lived experience. Our work has been informed by the Scottish context, international principles, and the growing importance of human rights awareness and understanding on the individual level. The definition reads:

Human Rights based Advocacy (HRbA) is an intersectional approach that upholds the core principles of human rights – dignity, wellbeing, and fairness – as both the means and result of remedying injustice through informed representation. This promotes equality and justice for all human beings in every aspect of their lives, regardless of origin, identity, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, beliefs, language, or socioeconomic status. With universal human rights at its centre, HRbA can be applied across a multitude of issues that arise in the absence of, or threat to universal human rights. ©

Human Rights based Advocacy is designed by, and developed for, those who face the greatest challenges to obtaining their fundamental rights. There are widespread inequalities that continue to threaten dignity, wellbeing, and fairness for all, particularly related to poverty and deprivation. As we continue to see unprecedented figures around substance use deaths, substance use and mental health harms, suicide, poverty, prisons, and children in care, it is ever more important that our approach to advocacy is multifaceted and intersectional.

Our work focuses on educating people in human rights based advocacy so that they are empowered to come to know their rights and push back against these inequalities. This definition is the reflection of continuous work to bring advocacy to the forefront as a mechanism for realising human rights and equality throughout society, particularly among the most marginalised and disadvantaged.

As we move into a new human rights era in Scotland, REACH is committed to making sure that human rights knowledge and awareness is happening from the ground up, and that people advocating for others are able to fully understand the role of human rights throughout that process. Recently, we have been able to expand our organisation, with the hiring of 4 new staff members, with backgrounds in human rights, law and third sector work. Now we have the capacity to continue building on this work and developing tools for it's implementation. We are excited to continue sharing our work in this area, with the upcoming publishing of a Human Rights based Advocacy companion paper, and the creation of further educational tools for implementing this approach.

Further publications can be found on this page, our website, and social media pages linked below.

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