York Human Rights City

About York Human Rights City

York: the UK’s 1st Human Rights City

On 24 April 2017 the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Dave Taylor, signed a declaration making York the UK’s first Human Rights City. The declaration was the result of six years of work and campaigning, and had the support of all the main political parties within the Council. We were joined by Cllr Thomas Rakajovics from Graz, Austria. Graz was declared Europe’s first Human Rights City over 15 years ago.


Speakers included: Cllr Keith Aspden, on behalf of City of York Council; Rachael Maskell MP for York Central; Dr. Marilyn Crawshaw, York: Human Rights City steering group member; the Lord Mayor Cllr Dave Taylor; Cllr Thomas Rajakovics, Speaker of the Mayor’s Office of Graz; Professor Paul Gready, York: Human Rights City steering group member. Speeches available for download: Rachael Maskell, Marilyn Crawshaw, Cllr Dave Taylor


The actual wording of the declaration is as follows:

York Human Rights City Declaration

York, in becoming a Human Rights City, embraces a vision of a vibrant, diverse, fair and safe community built on the foundations of universal human rights. This vision is shared by citizens and institutions in our city, including the City Council, North Yorkshire Police, voluntary organisations and faith communities.

We are building on York’s own particular history of democratic innovation, philanthropy and an international outlook, all of which have shaped our commitment to social justice.

This declaration marks an ambition. A significant point in a journey, not a final destination. As the UK’s first Human Rights City we are committed to making our vision real, putting fundamental rights at the heart of our policies, hopes and dreams for the future.

A Human Rights City requires commitment from key participants, to a particular approach, backed by related actions. York: Human Rights City is a diverse network including the City of York Council, statutory agencies such as the police, voluntary sector groups and others. The approach seeks to use human rights to address local, everyday priorities. York residents have selected the five key priority areas of:

  • Education
  • Housing
  • Health
  • An adequate standard of living
  • Equality and non-discrimination.

York: Human Rights City’s aim is to integrate human rights into policy and practice in the city and to maintain our momentum. We’re very keen to learn about opportunities to speak about what this declaration could mean for York and about our work. Get in touch.

York Human Rights City Network Indicator Report 2022 now out!



York Human Rights City Network’s (YHRCN’s) seventh annual indicator report ‘Seeking to Rebuild’ provides a unique overview of human rights in the city of York. From 2022 onwards, the cost-of-living crisis emerged as the dominant local and national concern. Given the bleak economic forecasts, much needs to be done to protect the city’s low-income households and vulnerable residents, in particular.

The Report highlights some successes, for example the comparatively low number of people sleeping rough in the city and the city’s strong response to hosting refugees. However, it also draws attention to areas in which rights are being undermined. The shocking rise in numbers forced to use foodbanks, and the continued widening of the gender pay gap are chief amongst these.

The report notes YHRCN’s continued support for the Reverse the Ban Coalition’s campaign against the exclusion of Blue Badge Holders from the city centre, and the ongoing work of the Poverty Truth Commission. It also voices concern at the lack of appropriate provision for Gypsies and Travellers in the York Local Plan.

The report’s recommendations include a call for the widespread adoption of the Living Wage Foundation’s Real Living Wage, strategies to remove financial barriers to children from low income families to fully participate in education, and the allocation of greater resources to ensuring public information is accessible to all, not just digitally.

As Chair of the Network Stephen Pittam states, “We believe these measures are necessary in order to ensure that York makes progress in its aspirations as a Human Rights City.”

The YHRCN is a non-party political coalition underpinned by universal human rights principles.  It seeks to work with all the main political parties to collaborate where we can and critique when necessary to do so.

Since: 2017 Self-declared Human Rights City
Contact person's name: Liz Lockey
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