YORK should be declared a human rights city within the next four years, placing it at the centre of international campaigns, a charity based in the city has said.

International Service, which is based in Rougier Street, made the call today, following a breakfast meeting with the Lord Mayor of York.

A charity spokeswoman said: “Along with The Hague, Barcelona and Graz in Austria we want to have York declared a Human Rights City within the next three or four years.

"We are already a City of Sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers, along with other cities in the UK and this fits in well with a larger vision in which York, as a Human Rights City, is at the centre for promoting and furthering human rights in Europe.”

She said achieving such status would require work with City of York Council and other organisations in the city.

The Lord Mayor, Coun Julie Gunnell, welcomed staff from the charity today to discuss the experiences of human rights defenders from the Applied Centre for Human Rights at The University.

The meeting included defenders from Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, El Salvador and Zimbabwe who were working on various issues.