Combating discrimination and promoting equality as a fundamental human right and a basic principle of social justice
From 2000 to 2007 Bob Niven was the founding Chief Executive of Britain's Disability Rights Commission. The DRC's statutory goals were to eliminate discrimination against disabled people through legal cases and related action, to promote their equal opportunities more generally, to disseminate best practice and to advise Government on the operation of legislation relevant to disability rights including the Human Rights Act. Over the previous five years as a senior civil servant, Bob Niven was the national Director for Equal Opportunities policy, legislation and institutional arrangements concerning sex discrimination, equal pay, race equality in education and employment, and disability rights. During this time he oversaw the introduction of the radical Disability Discrimination Act as well as enhancements of UK law in such areas as equal pay, the rights of part-time workers and the employment rights of transgendered individuals. He also had responsibility for the design and implementation of Britain's national childcare strategy as well as policy developments on work-family balance, carers and disability programmes. He was involved in United Nations international initiatives on women and also, more recently, the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. His earlier posts in the senior civil service included the Secretariat to the British Cabinet and responsibility for UK interests in EU employment and social policy including gender legislation and the widening of EU competence on equal opportunities to race, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion and belief. In 2006-07 Bob Niven was closely involved in the process to establish Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission whose remit covers a similar range of grounds of discrimination as well as human rights and good relations between communities and groups. He has published articles on the opportunities and constraints faced by the new Commission.
Bob Niven is currently Trustee at the Royal Association for the Disabled and Rehabilitation and at the Disability Law Service as well as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Office of the Public Guardian which oversees legal arrangements for taking care of the financial and other interests of people who lack or lose mental capacity. He is also an adviser and mentor to organisations and individuals involved in equalities and similar fields. He has a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics as well as a B.Phil in Management Studies, both from Oxford University, and he secured an MA in Political Science in the United States. He was awarded the CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2007.