The debate about human rights in the UK has become narrow, divisive and political. But public scepticism towards human rights relates to their application rather than the principles behind them. For centuries, protecting individual liberty has been seen as an important conservative principle. As Margaret Thatcher put it, “human rights did not begin with the French Revolution...England had 1688, our quiet revolution”.

This project explores how conservatives can think about human rights in a positive way that draws on conservative traditions of individual freedom and empowerment. It also evaluates what the Conservative Government has done to tackle all forms of discrimination and what more can be done to tackle the 'burning injustices' that prevent people reaching their full potential.

In July 2017 the project culminated with the publication of "Britain breaking barriers: Strengthening human rights and tackling discrimination". This report suggested 68 new policies for the government's social reform agenda and to tackle all forms of discrimination. 

The report explored three key areas:

  • Ensuring any changes to the UK's human rights legislative framework strengthen human rights and is compatible with being a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

  • Advancing human rights in British foreign policy

  • Tackling discrimination - including gender, sexual, religious, disability and racial discrimination





The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP
Chair, Women and Equalities Select Committee


The Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP
Second Estates Church Commissioner


The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
Former Attorney General for England and Wales


Matthew d'Ancona
Political Columnist, The Guardian

Ben Rogers

Benedict Rogers
Writer and human rights activist

About the commission

Our commission was led by a group of high-profile conservative decision makers and opinion formers. It was a year-long inquiry assessing a conservative approach to human rights across three key policy areas: tackling discrimination; the British Bill of Rights; and British foreign policy.

The commission included an all-day oral evidence session with invited experts and a call for written evidence. The commission concluded with a final report "Britain breaking barriers" that included 68 new policy recommendations.