QCEA's Human Rights Programme publishes research reports and pamphlets about our projects - you can find links to them here.

If you'd like to receive free paper copies of any of our publications, email martin.leng@qcea.org

Child immigration detention in Europe

Across Europe, hundreds of children are held in detention simply because of their migration status. QCEA's research has demonstrated that many governments and European agencies are unaware of the scale of the problem. Our recent report into this worrying trend will form the basis of advocacy on this issue, with the aim of raising awareness of alternatives among policymakers.

Click here to read the report

The European Convention on Human Rights

The ECHR is a vital element of Europe's fundamental rights framework, but it remains poorly understood - and increasingly maligned by populists and authoritarians across the continent. This pamphlet is designed as a "beginner's guide" to the Convention, the European Court of Human Rights and its important work. Written in an accessible style aimed at non-experts, this document is a useful starting point for anyone seeking to better understand the ECHR and spread the word to others.

Click here to read the pamphlet

Welcoming Refugees Checklists

We have assembled a series of checklists to help local groups who are working with refugees and asylum seekers in their local communities. These checklists provide information and suggestions on how to make the refugees and asylum seekers more comfortable in each step of the transition to their new community.

Click here to find the checklists

History of Quakers and human rights

One of the founding principles of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was the recognition that every member of society is unique and their life must be valued. This quickly led Quakers to take radical positions based on their spiritual experience, such as opposition to war and the death penalty.

These ideas led to a wide range of practical protects undertaken by members of the Society, such as the first attempt at mental health care, in the house of John Goodson in 1673, and late the first mental health hospital, 'the Retreat', which was established in 1796 and continues its work today.

Another well known example is Elizabeth Fry who led campaigns for improved detention conditions in Britain in the 19th Century. She later also advised on prison regimes in France, Germany, Italy and Russia. In recognition of the impact of her work her image could be found on British £5 notes for many years. Today, Quakers continue to be active as prison chaplains, prison visitors and campaigners for reform of immigration detention.

Michael Bartlet, former Parliamentary Liaison Secretary for Quakers in Britain, has written, “An early conception of human rights is implicit in the seventeenth century political and religious experience of Friends. Such rights are inherent in the ‘neighbour principle’ as a source of social responsibility, common to world faiths.” Some Quakers have also been influenced by the writings of Thich Nhat Hahn who has argued that Buddhism focus on personal liberation through the cycle of life, should today be understood as a requirement for work to bring about social liberation for all people.

Around the world Quaker organisations are working to promote and protect human rights. This includes peacebuilding efforts by Kenyan Friends, and the Sanctuary Everywhere programme led by American Friends Service Committee in the US. The work of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva has also included a human rights programme for many decades, positively affecting global discussions on child soldiers, conscientious objectors to military service and the children of prisoners.


1650s - The Quaker movement begins in Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands, working for peace, simple living and equality between all people.

1750s - Quakers begin campaigning against the Atlantic slave trade.

1790s - Quakers establish new centres for adult education, as well as a humane and progressive mental health hospital in the city of York.

1810s - Quakers begin work to improve prison conditions. Prison reform has been a major element of Quaker campaigning ever since.

1930s-40s - Quaker famine relief efforts in Europe, and evacuation of Jewish children from Nazi Germany. The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief becomes Oxfam. Quakers are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.

1960s - Quakers help found Amnesty International, promote racial equality and encourage more acceptance of same-sex relationships – one of the first faith groups to do so.

1970s - Quaker Houses are established in Belfast to promote reconciliation and peace, as well as in Brussels to bring Quaker values to the European institutions – work which continues here today.

1990s - Quaker representations to the United Nations in Geneva and New York help develop the Landmine Ban Treaty.