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As the world marks UN Human Rights Day, Professor Ken McPhail reflects on what this means for Manchester and the University of Manchester.

Manchester has always been a hub for the promotion of human rights and dignity. The people of Manchester campaigned for universal suffrage at Peterloo and specifically for women’s suffrage through Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Social and Political Union.

The Rochdale Pioneers launched the first cooperative store, a revolution which spread worldwide. The Trades Union Congress was founded in Manchester to instigate and protect worker rights. And Lancashire mill workers took a principled stand against slavery by refusing to touch raw cotton picked by US slaves.

And when the National Health Service was founded 70 years ago, the first hospital was right here in the city as a guarantee of public access to health. Manchester also formed the foundation of what became the gay rights movement, hosted the first Gay Pride event, and is still the headquarters for the LGBT Foundation and Sparkle, the National Transgender Charity.

Drawing on our city’s historical heritage, and in partnership with the UN Human Rights, the University of Manchester has been celebrating its contributions to the achievement of the Global Human Rights Agenda, while we also recently welcomed the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore to address a number of lectures on campus.

Our third goal of social responsibility is unique among higher education, and provides the other two goals of world-class research and outstanding learning experience with a purpose. Indeed our researchers at Alliance Manchester Business School produce cutting-edge academic and policy studies on the impact of business on fundamental rights, informing the academic and public debate.

As a higher education institution, we have a prestigious role educating future generations of leaders – shaping their values, their motivations, their positions in the broader society. And we do so by pursuing an ambitious multi-disciplinary and original research agenda that wants to contribute to our humanity.

Professor Ken McPhail is Director of Research at Alliance Manchester Business School and Academic Lead for the Business and Human Rights Catalyst.

Watch Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in conversation with Professor Ken McPhail in the video below: