KIND’s Senior Director for Europe on Human Rights Day

December 11, 2023

This year’s Human Rights Day (yesterday, December 10) marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first signed in 1948. Kirsty Thomson, KIND’s Senior Director for Europe, was recently interviewed on a podcast celebrating Human Rights Day with Just Right Scotland, an organization she helped cofound. She discusses how KIND’s global work serving unaccompanied children protects and defends the human rights of children on the move. Listen here, and read an excerpt below.  

Organizations like Just Right Scotland and KIND are strong leaders in this work. And it’s about collaboration. It’s the recognition that no one person, no one organization or one community can achieve the protection of human rights working alone… It’s more important than ever…to deepen collaborations nationally but also internationally. We play a key connecting role constantly pivoting and bringing people together and bringing different communities, disciplines, and agencies together and being that leadership voice at difficult times… 

In the last couple of years, we have had to respond to more crises: the pandemic, conflicts on the borders of Europe, in the Middle East, crisis after crisis. Our world is changing perhaps more in the last year than in the past five years or decades. As these crises and conflicts fade from the news sphere, the human impact continues. What organizations like JustRight Scotland and KIND do is we’re there to protect human rights all way through even once media coverage has faded. We try and care for the ones that are left behind in these conflicts: women, children, people from minority communities. That’s what we do.  

Undoubtedly, the more crises that come, the more human impact there is and the more people who are left behind in vulnerable situations, the more there is a need for us. There’s not just a need for us to respond and to provide legal support and information. There’s also an increasing need for us to be there to be stewards and to ensure that governments and others are accountable. These are key human rights and we’re there to hold our systems, our governments to account. And that does not need to be a strategic test case. Sometimes that is necessary but more often, this is about being there to complement and support and you’ve had lots of examples of that in this podcast, information to communities and training and, and speaking to government about a system that doesn’t work, strengthening those systems, all of that’s important.  

And it’s never been more important than now. These are difficult times. But those pillars, those principles, the human rights, they’re there, they don’t change. They guide us. And they are there to hold us accountable. We are stewards, as human rights lawyers, as human rights organizations, we have a responsibility and a role to help everyone work together and as communities, as civil society, as human rights movements.