Our Story

The Equal Rights Trust was established in 2007, with a mission to combat discrimination and promote equality as a fundamental human right and a principle of social justice. We were founded to pursue and promote the right to equality as a right to participate in all areas of life on an equal basis, which requires taking a holistic, comprehensive approach to different inequalities.

In 2008, we launched the Declaration of Principles on Equality, together with 128 experts from more than 40 different countries. Endorsed by experts from across the globe, the Declaration harmonised standards for achieving equality through law for the first time, 

In the subsequent decade, we established partnerships to support civil society movements to combat discrimination and promote equality law. Among other things, we:

  • Assisted partners in Kenya, Ukraine and elsewhere to secure equality law reform, and supported equality coalitions in more than a dozen other countries;
  • Supported strategic litigation leading to ground-breaking judgements in Moldova, Russia and Serbia and supported paralegals to provide legal assistance to 6000+ survivors of discrimination.
  • Provided training to more than 2500 activists, increasing their understanding of equality law.

We also undertook research at the intersection of equality and other issues of rights and development, ranging from torture to the realisation of socio-economic rights.

In 2018, we launched our first strategy, focused on three goals. These goals informed our work until 2023:

  • We developed greater understanding of equality law and its centrality to rights and development. We collaborated with the United Nations to develop and launch the Practical Guide to Developing Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation the first definitive, authoritative guidance from the UN on the laws which states must pass to meet their international law obligations to prohibit and prevent discrimination. We also worked with Help Age International to develop Advancing Equality for Older Persons, a global study on using the law to counter ageism and with Transparency International to produce Defying Exclusion, a groundbreaking investigation into the links between discrimination and corruption.
  • We increased expertise and capacity among equality defenders. We supported coalitions advocating for the adoption of comprehensive equality laws in 15 countries, ranging from Armenia to India. We trained activists and lawyers from 39 different countries, increasing their capacity to apply the right to non-discrimination; supported lawyers in 6 countries to litigate strategic cases, resulting in key decisions such as Volodina v Russia; and enabled partners in 22 countries to document discrimination and publish evidence such as, A Past Still Present, a comprehensive analysis of discrimination in Egypt.
  • We fostered a growing international network of equality defenders. We supported the establishment of equality coalitions in Cabo Verde and Mongolia and helping to strengthen five other national coalitions. We brought together partners from 25 countries to develop and deliver three global comparative research studies and we worked with partners in 16 different countries to produce Together for Equality, a study examining why and how a collaborative approach to tackling discrimination works.