What is a Human Rights Story?
Well-known rights include the right to a fair trial; the right not to be subjected to torture; the right to freedom of expression and opinion; the right to education. All these rights are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which has generated many important international human rights agreements including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture.
We believe that human rights have a special place in our moral and legal systems. Human rights focus specifically on state responsibility, including the actions of the institutions it controls, or on large organisations that act in place of the state. For example, if an individual acting on his/her own authority tortures me, then this is not a human rights abuse but a criminal act. However, if the state orders, encourages or ignores this torture, then it is failing in its human rights obligations, and is a party to human rights abuse.
This is important to take in to account when responding to the remit of Everyone Has the Right and choosing what stories you want to explore.
The concept of human rights can also be questioned and we understand that the efficacy and moral force of human rights can be dependent upon context. We are keen to encourage work that takes a fresh and dynamic approach to the idea of a ‘human rights story’, creating surprising and thought-provoking plays that maximise the impact of live performance.
You can read Steve Waters’ article on the Guardian Theatre Blog about how human rights can be used in drama.