Human rights and social justice

  • 08 Pages
  • Published On: 09-11-2023


Human Rights and Social Justice can be defined as a suitable way of fostering social norms and regulations in an effective pattern. In other words, it can be better known for its equality and securing rights of the common man in a country under an ethical guideline of the approaches that may bring some advocacy of international human rights as well. According to the British Institute of Human Rights (2020), it upholds principles of social justice and human rights, as per government regulations as well as having promoting equality of gender, race, and religious aspects. In fact, the British Institute of Human Rights has mainly focused on the transformation of society towards democracy since it was formed by the Council of Europe post World War II. In this regard, it has been well acknowledged that the Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights may secure and protect a society that is based on equality and having equal opportunities in a country for achieving the majority of benefits and flexibility that is dependent on public policy. The essay represents two views on British society, which is socially just on the basis of legal and ethical norms and rights that have been dependent on the strategic concepts as well as the majority of navigation of ideologies and principles of the country as well.


Social Justice in the British Society: A Political Overview


The concept of social justice has been a matter of debate for a long time in different forms. It is since the last fifteen years that the topic has become a part of political discourse, most importantly among the governments who identify themselves as social democrats. According to Carugati et al. (2019), in the purview of the development of a liberal democratic society, the achievement of social justice happens to be a natural outcome towards the spread of enlightenment in society. The concept of social justice gained importance in the UK with the efforts of the leader of the Labor Party in successfully establishing the Commission for Social Justice in the year 1994. At that time inequality and poverty happened to be the two most debatable topics within the UK and hence the UK was considered as one of the most socially unjust countries in the world (Thrift and Sugarman, 2019). The Commission in order to remove this tarnished image of the country pledged to provide social to one and all in the country. The Commission also pledged to provide equal opportunities to every citizen and provide them with equal rights in order to meet their basic needs and demands. The Commission sought to remove every form of inequality in the society and strived to work towards making the British society socially just again. But with the new governments coming into power in the UK, a lot of questions aroused that what are the basic needs and opportunities that the government should provide to their citizens in order to be socially justified towards them. The new governments brought into the forefront a lot of new social programs for the society in order to deliver social justice by providing their basic needs and amenities and creating an opportunity for all. But somehow they failed to address the issues of social exclusion and were unable to reduce the poverty in the society (Warner et al. 2020). The very reason for this was that their goals were not clear and far-sighted and lacked the initiative to promote social equality among all. The social democratic governments in the UK had been criticized time and again due to their incompetence to understand the gravity of issues related to social justice in the British society and henceforth frame effective policies in order to address such delicate issues. These governments mainly focused on the underprivileged and provided them with the basic needs and amenities but they failed to understand the concept of redistribution. They failed to understand the needs and opportunities forms a part of the basic rights of every individual in the society as it is not only the underprivileged that makes up the society but the society is made up of every citizen coming from different walks of life. This created a disparity among society as many were deprived of the social needs and opportunities (Li and Dervin, 2019). Many articles in the media also highlighted the fact the British society to be segregated in terms of ethnicity as most citizens prefer friends from their own ethnic group rather than from other ethnic groups. This indirectly indicates social segregation in British society rather than incorporating social inclusion and integration into society.

Notions of Social Justice in the British Society

The notion of social justice in the British Society has a different perspective on different people in society. To one section of the society, it is about equality of opportunities, while to another section of the society it is all about equality in outcomes. British society happens to be a multicultural society due to the fact of mass immigration between the years 1950 to 1970. The UK government ensures equal rights and opportunities irrespective of the ethnicity of its citizens (Watts and Hodgson, 2019). Multiculturalism and diversity have always been a matter of pride for British society. But the increasing cases of biases based on ethnicity in the last few years has been a question on the ideal of social justice for every citizen in the UK. Several cases of intolerance and attacks on ethnic minority groups had been the major headlines of the leading print and digital media in the UK. On many occasions, the ethnic minority groups had to struggle in order to get the much-needed recognition and respect in British society, which puts the concept of social equality in British society under doubt. The intolerance towards such ethnic minority groups in the British society had been the very reason behind social unrest where the members of such ethnic minority groups adopted violent ways in order to affirm their basic rights (Capeheart and Milovanovic, 2020). Some recent terrorist attacks in the UK had always put the allegiance of the minority ethnic groups towards the UK government and British society under doubt. This enhanced the act of intolerance against them by British society time and again and was deprived of their basic human rights and social justice. Again economic slowdown had been one of the prime causes behind depriving the ethnic minority groups of basic amenities like education, healthcare services, housing, and other social services. There have been many philosophies and theories put forward by authors concerning the notion of social justice. According to John Rawls, social justice is based on the fundamental principle of “fairness” and states that a well-ordered society is about “everyone playing their individual role to act equitably” (Gališanka, 2019). The contemporary politicians in the UK underline social justice as the equality of opportunity, however, a different lobby of politicians contradicts in this matter and underlines social justice as the equality of rules and regulations. According to David Miller, social justice is distributive in nature and how it is delivered to the human society depends on the political and philosophical perspective of society (Stankiewicz, 2019). As identified by Miller, there are three basic and fundamental components that are linked to social justice, that is what the society deserves, what it needs, and ensuring equality. This is what ensures society to be socially just as well as responsible for the needs and opportunities of everyone in society.

Critical Evaluation of the Two Views

It has been acknowledged that Social Justice gained stability in the British Society with the establishment of the Commission for Social Justice in 90s. During that period the British society was considered unequal in terms of poverty and equality. The commission stated social justice, as equal treatment for all citizens, equal rights of all citizens for their basic requirements, equal opportunities for all and eliminating the inequalities. According to O'Brien (2017), the government in the UK did not define social justice previously but now British society is more segregated. The politicians in British focus on the equality of opportunity, processes and procedures. Though it is still noticed that women, disabled, black and the ethnic groups are not privileged of equal rights. The minority children are left behind the British when it comes to education. It is even noticed that blacks are not allowed to keep forth their requirements and this is the reason that blacks are reluctant to the researches based on them, as they have not been involved

As stated by Xie (2018), justice should be distributed in nature, the rights and the privileges should be delivered equally among all the citizens. Though, most of the time, the multicultural societies face difficulties in the recognition of the minor groups. According to Francis et al (2017), till the present day, society is not working towards the reduction of child poverty and the gap between the wealthy and underprivileged, that had increased in past years. The right approach towards social justice, as said by, is the arrangements of society in such a way that all can receive the privileges they deserve. Along with the cultural, the difference in income and prosperity also affect recognition and respect in the society. British society is working towards the betterment of social justice, that is essential for every human. Social justice is defined working together towards an equal society, where the people will be treated with equal dignity and respect irrespective of their culture, colour and income.

The UK Human Rights are working towards the protection of the citizen's rights, creating legal regulations that will help in yeh implementation of the rights. Along with social justice, the commission is working on removing the obstacles the citizens face because of their gender, age, ethnicity, culture and disability. The concept of social justice in British society is linked with rights and citizenship and their need. Citizenship has identified some aspects that are Civil rights that include property rights, legal assurances and liberties Political rights that include voting rights, rights to firm associations, participation in constitutional meeting Social rights that include the right to education, rights to health care, maintenance of housing and income. Social justice is jit only limited to the material aspects but also the non-material aspects, like respect and recognition as an individual irrespective of the group or culture they belong to. The major challenge that lies in the oath to attain social justice in the society is the closed community of politics that have a very primitive concept about the needs and requirements for the citizens. The cultural differences can be eliminated by opening national identity so that all become equally available for discussion. The politicians should ensure that people from all the cultural groups are recognized and encourage them to participate in the process if they determine the principles that will help in establishing social rights in society. These small engagements will help to understand the cultural differences and clear the concept of social justice so that all can be benefited from it. The challenge is greater than it seems to be, but for the beginning, social justice should be involved in terminating the cultural differences.

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In considering all the facts and concepts about social rights in British society, it has been observed that the society and the government have evolved in retaining the rights of the citizens. British society has a multicultural society, which is the result of the immigration that took place between the years 1959 to 1970. Social justice was not evenly distributed in the nation thus, the formation of the Rights commission was required. The Rights Commission has worked towards protecting the rights of the citizens. The multicultural society is difficult to manage due to their different beliefs but they are being kept on the same grounds as the citizens. However, being the citizen all has the same rights and duties towards the nation and society. The government has been taking the required steps to ensure all are treated equally irrespective of their culture, religion, ethics, disability, gender or age. The social rights are established so that all are recognised and respected equally. As it is observed, there have been some issues related to education and prosperity, which has to be excluded from society. The citizens as well as the politicians need to work together towards the betterment it yeh society and social rights will have a significant role in the process

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British Institute of Human Rights. 2020. Social Justice And Human Rights. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 August 2020]. Capeheart, L., and Milovanovic, D., 2020. Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements (Revised and Expanded Edition). Rutgers University Press.

Carugati, F., Ober, J. and Weingast, B.R., 2019. Is development uniquely modern? Ancient Athens on the doorstep. Public Choice, 181(1-2), pp.29-47.

Francis, B., Mills, M. and Lupton, R., 2017. Towards social justice in education: Contradictions and dilemmas. Journal of Education Policy, 32(4), pp.414-431.

Gališanka, A., 2019. John Rawls: The Path to a Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press.

Li, Y. and Dervin, F., 2019. Constructions of social justice, marginalization, and belonging. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

O'Brien, C., 2017. Unity in adversity: EU citizenship, social justice and the cautionary tale of the UK. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Stankiewicz, M.A., 2019. Social Justice–Looking Back. In Art, Culture, and Pedagogy (pp. 194-202). Brill Sense.

Thrift, E., and Sugarman, J., 2019. What is social justice? Implications for psychology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 39(1), p.1.

Warner, L., Kurtiş, T., and Adya, A., 2020. Navigating criticisms of intersectional approaches: Reclaiming intersectionality for global social justice and well-being. Women & Therapy, pp.1-16.

Watts, L., and Hodgson, D., 2019. Social justice theory and practice for social work. Springer.

Xie, H., 2018, May. The Quest for Social Justice and Multiculturalism from the Perspective of Gender Alterity. In Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy (Vol. 29, pp.l 131-135).

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