This episode focuses on the UK’s policy of deterring refugees and migrants from seeking asylum by extending the Home Office’s domestic “hostile environment” beyond state borders and into mainland Europe. We raise a number of questions on ethical and legal grounds. Our guest Marta Welander, founder of Refugee Rights Europe and PhD candidate and visiting lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University, is here to discuss her work and research toward these issues.
From June to October 2017, the US-led Coalition launched an aggressive and highly destructive military campaign in Raqqa, Syria to oust the so-called “Islamic State” from the city. More than 80% of the city was destroyed via aerial bombardments, leaving Raqqa the most destroyed city in modern times. And over 1,600 civilians were killed. Amnesty and the Digital Verification Corps came to Queens’ College, Cambridge for a panel discussion crossed with an exhibition featuring photographs, interactive screens, and even a Virtual Reality experience. Declarations was invited to the event, to hear from the panel, explore the exhibition, and speak to some of the visitors.
In the first episode of this seasons' Declarations podcasts, the new team of panellists sets the stage for a discussion of some of the human rights issues that do not receive enough attention. The podcast gives rise to a dialogue around the very principles of human rights, informed by the panellists diverse geographical backgrounds and personal interests. Through their experience with human rights issues in NGO work, academia as well as their personal lives, they problematise some aspects of human rights while highlighting its immense potential for positive change.
Until 2015, China harvested organs from prisoners on death row. The State has adopted an official policy that all organs must come from voluntary donations. Yet research suggests that there is a large discrepancy between the official Chinese government’s statistics on organ transplant rates in China (10,000 per year) and reality (estimates of 60,000-100,000 per year). When combined with the ongoing repression of ethnic and religious minorities by the State, this raises questions about the origins of those organs. Human rights groups allege that the State harvests organs from prisoners of conscience including members of Falun Gong, Uyghurs, Tibetans and House Christians.
In this episode, we focus on organ trafficking and transplant abuse in China, and the impact that it has upon minority groups. We are joined by Dr David Matas, who is an international human rights lawyer based in Canada and co-founder of the International Coalition To End Transplant Abuse In China (ETAC)
Technology is redefining the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in this globalised world, whether it is artificial intelligence (AI) being used to screen their immigration applications or mobile applications designed to help them to access information and healthcare. The implications are far-reaching and complex, since such technological innovations could either strength or undermine human rights.
Moreover, how human bodies are sorted reflects power dynamics and values in the 21st century. For instance, AI could expedite decision-making for immigration agents and reduce the backlog. Yet it is potentially dangerous to use AI in making decisions which could bear life-or-death consequences, by approving or denying a request for asylum.
On this episode, we consider these questions about the current and future use of technology in the immigration space, plus how we should change the conversation so that people can become more informed in using and developing these tools. From the University of Cambridge and the Centre of Governance and Human Rights, this is Declarations and I am Jennifer Tridgell.
We are joined by Petra Molnar, and Matt Mahmoudi. Petra Molnar is the Acting Director of the International Human Rights Program, University of Toronto, and specialises in immigration and human rights law. Matt Mahmoudi is Jo Cox PhD Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where his research focuses on technological marginalisation among refugees and vulnerable migrant populations.
In this episode we discuss how the infrastructure of the US-Mexico border wall has become a weapon in and of itself. Since Trump’s campaign promise, “the wall” has captured onlookers’ horror and imagination. It is a frontline for so-called wars on drugs, terror, and migrants, but resistance to it is also a frontline in the fight for human rights. We explore the impact of the wall as weaponised infrastructure – not only a deadly symbol, but also a physical object that shapes the lives of those at or around the border. Our guest for the episode, Dr. Ieva Jusionyte, has worked as an emergency responder on both sides of the border in Arizona and Sonora. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Harvard, and Editor of the University of California Press Series in Public Anthropology. Her most recent book, Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US.-Mexico Border is written from the perspective of firefighters and paramedics working along the border.
Music by Blue Dot Sessions, Borrtex, and Seed A.I.
This week’s episode explores how the petroleum industry in the Niger Delta takes place at the intersection of contentious relations between multinational oil companies, the Nigerian nation-state, and local communities in the oil-producing regions. The guest on the show is Dr Elias Courson, a lecturer at Niger Delta University, Nigeria and a former postdoc fellow at the Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge.
In this episode, we speak with Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty, Milena Marin, Senior advisor for Tactical Research, and Katya alkhateeb a senior researcher at the Essex Human Rights Centre, about launching the immersive investigation titled 'Rhetoric Versus Reality in the War in Raqqa' project. The project set out to document US-led Coalition civilian harms in Raqqa in 2017, through a collaboration between some 3,000 digital volunteers, and Amnesty's on-the-ground researchers.
In this episode we discuss the notion of a human rights-based approach to the socio-economic and cultural development of the UK, particularly in relation to race. The discussion explores the relationship between political representation and racial equality, alongside the development of political literacy amongst young people from minority backgrounds. Our guest for the panel discussion was Mr Simon Woolley, Director and one of the founders of Operation Black Vote & Chair of the Race Disparity Advisory Group at 10 Downing St.
Soundtrack: 'Highway to the Stars' by Kai Engel, and 'Ascent' by Jon Luc Hefferman.
In this episode we will be talking about the use of mapping and social media technologies to conduct human rights work, both outside the field and inside the field (what has come to be known as “Open Source Intelligence” or OSINT).
This kind of work increasingly supports how human rights workers know with certainty when something has happened, and is becoming an important part of denouncing and reacting to human rights abuses.
We were joined by Sam Dubberley, Senior Advisor to the Crisis Response Team at Amnesty International, and Manager of the Digital Verification Corps.
The documentary “Cities of Sleep” explores the world of insurgent sleeper communities, as well as the infamous 'sleep mafia' in Delhi. Filmmaker Shaunak Sen and Cambridge PhD candidate Shreyashi Dasgupta join us to discuss the intersection between urban development, changing societies, city life and communities experiencing homelessness.
Over 10,000 migrant children have been lost after arriving in Europe. Where do they end up? What are their stories? And who is responsible for their increasing vulnerability and their being forgotten? Our guests are Cecilia Ferrara and Ismael Einashe, investigative journalists from Lost in Europe: an investigative network committed to recovering the stories of these missing children.
Everyone's asking, "How did he win? What does this mean for Brazil's future?" But Jair Bolsonaro's victory in the October presidential election also raises more systemic questions. Our guest, Dr Malu Gatto from the University of Zurich, joins us to explore the legacy of Brazil's not-so-dated dictatorship for Bolsonaro and for resistance movements like #NotHim.
In this special episode, we sat down with Jackson Odong of the Refugee Law Project, and Shama Ams from the Centre of Development Studies, to discuss justice in post-conflict and post-colonial contexts. Jackson describes the important role of documenting memory, while Shama speaks to the possibility for rights and weaponisation of citizenship. Are there alternative routes to justice and rights outside the context of the state? What obligations in terms of justice are owed, when one regime is replaced by another? All of this and more in this episode of declarations.
In this episode we talked about external borders and internal politics, trying to get to grips with what democracies owe refugees. As a long-standing former policy-maker and MP, Lord Smith helped us shed light on the domestic dimensions of the politics of the Syrian refugee crisis.
Declarations went to Washington DC earlier this year to talk to researchers and practitioners who are dealing with disinformation.
While there we met Alexa Koenig, Executive Director at the Berkeley Human Rights Center.
Alexa has had an illustrious career working in the arts, education and politics, before making the jump to a career in Law and Human Rights in particular. She's the author of the highly rated 'Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror', and has helped pioneer one of the most significant human rights "innovations" in the digital age; the Human Rights Investigations Lab.
Declarations PROFILE is a new series that covers a wide range of notable and inspiring figures in the human rights world.
The Copenhagen Declaration - adopted April this year - unveiled tensions about the relationship between democracy and human rights. If human rights are universal, then they are not only for voting citizens. The views of the citizen majority in any given nation might not be in support of protecting the rights of minorities – non-citizens who cannot vote are particularly vulnerable.
However, the alternative to this can also be viewed as problematic: an independent court that can overrule the decisions of the nation-state is seen by many as having excessive authority and little relevance to domestic concerns.
Professor Çalı shared her expertise on what the Declaration (in draft form at the time) means for the state of human rights in Europe.
Music on this episode was generated by JukeDeck (theme song), and by Alex Finch ('Seeking Clarity')
From the Harvard Kennedy School, and the University of Cambridge, this is a special collaborative episode of Justice Matters and Declarations.
Do we live in a “post-truth” world? How does information shape national and international politics? Can we fact-check reliably in the social media age, and can we imagine a future where such standards can be enforced online? These are some of the questions we’ll be grappling with in this episode.
We were joined by Malachy Browne, a Senior Story Producer at The New York Times. Malachy’s led investigations from Yemen to the refugee camp known as the “Calais” jungle, and he’s a leader in using open-source digital techniques to verify social media stories -- work that gets right to the heart of today’s episode
In this episode, we are joined by Helen Jennings and Caitlin de Jode, who are organising a conference on ‘The Development of Abortion Rights in a Changing Europe’; the first of its kind in Cambridge. Helen, Caitlin, and their team, want to bring together scholars, activists and experts on the matter, to talk about how we can develop a meaningful framework through which abortion rights - amidst brexit and Ireland’s referendum on the 8th amendment - can be realized. What european, as well as global phenomena, are currently in motion that make this a particularly pressing matter now? What is the impact of conscientious objection on the provision of abortion to women in the UK? How should these competing rights be balanced? What changes - beyond the legal - are necessary, and who can help affect change?
Is Human Rights just a fable? To uncover this question, we venture down 'history' lane with Professor Samuel Moyn. What’s so special about the 1970s, and how does how we think about the emergence of human rights impact how we think of what human rights are, and what they are supposed to do? Join us and find out on this episode of Declarations.
In this episode, we talk about race, racism, borders, and human rights. What kinds of borders are erected around the rights you have - and the rights you don’t? Are human rights a language of liberation from structural oppression, or can it be an oppressive language itself? How can we decide?
We were joined by Dr Monica Moreno Figueroa, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Monica’s research interests include the lived experience of ‘race’ and racism; feminist theory and the interconnections between beauty, emotions and racism with a focus on Latin America.
In this episode, we talk about the law, politics, and human rights implications of drones and targeted killings. What can international humanitarian law tell us about the legal status of rights? Can human rights prevent drone strikes? Should they - and if so, how?
We were joined by Christof Heyns, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Today, he serves on the U.N. Human Rights Committee and is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria.
In this episode, we talk about occupation, refugee rights, and the status of Palestine. Are there systematic ways to remedy human rights abuses against an occupied people? How has human rights language been used to facilitate occupation? What can be done?
We were joined by Dr Ruba Salih (SOAS), expert on Transnational Migration and Gender, and Odette Murray, who is a lecturer in Law.
In this episode, we look at global economic institutions, and their role in human rights. Dr Shailaja Fennell joined us to discuss questions of whether institutions can advance, or inhibit human rights? What can we learn from failures in development, and how can lessons learned be used as a srping-board for tackling issues of gender, education and inequality?
In this episode, we discuss the weaponisation of human rights, i.e. are human rights always "good"; or are they at times used for more sinister ends? How has the use of human rights changed from the days in which they paved the way for movements around the globe, from the civil rights movement to the struggle to end apartheid, till today? Helping us delve into these murky waters, we were joined by Journalist, retired Civil Rights Lawyer, and Author of 'The Passion of Chelsea Manning', Chase Madar.
On this episode, we discussed refugee rights in international and domestic contexts. We were joined by Sociology PhD student, Rabia Nasimi, who - drawing on her own experience - talked us through the importance of people's individual backgrounds in matters of integration. The conversation also covered the role of grassroots organisations as compared to larger movements and institutions, and questioned whether integration is always benevolent. This episode emphasises that rights are only part of the issue, and that we need to start a more grounded conversation.
This week we spoke with Mbalenhle Matandela who was an active voice in the Right to Protest and Rhodes Must Fall campaigns in South Africa and is now a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. We discussed the various modes of protest and resistance, artificial impositions of notions of order, the politics of space and why 'armchair activists' have a crucial role to play.
In this episode, we talk about human rights and intervention, in the context of international institutions and their role in enforcing rights. Do local contexts matter? What are the everyday realities of countries subject to decrees by the International Criminal Court? And do rights belong to the individual or the community?
Dr Njoki Wamai, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Governance and Human Rights, helps us answer these questions in this episode.
What does cultural heritage mean, who can claim it, and what does it have to do with rights? With a significant number of artifacts on display in British museums having been removed from their original owners during periods of colonisation, this episode tackles the intersection between cultural artefacts, and larger issues of justice such as racial inequality, systemic injustice, and property rights.
Gweagal activist, Rodney Kelly, joined us from Australia, to speak about his fight for the return of Gweagal spears and shields held by the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, and the British Museum.
What do #TakeAKnee, #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter have in common?
In this episode, we explored ongoing debates surrounding the place of rights in redressing structural injustice. We talked about the language of rights, as used by both social movements and institutions, as well as social media and legislation. What are the best practices to advance human rights in an imperfect world? All of this and more, in today's episode.
Welcome to the 2nd season of Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast. With every episode, we’ll be exploring contemporary debates about politics and human rights with people who study them, and people who fight for them — both here in the UK and around the world.
Taking on 3 thematic areas, this season focuses on 'protest', 'subjugation', and 'technologies of oppression/liberation'. Our first episode goes live on October 30th 2017 - so tune in!
We can now take satellite pictures from the sky, get DNA samples on the scene and track moving networks of people through phones, laptops and other mobile technologies. With all this tech, human rights organisations should have a better idea than ever of the situation on the ground. But does this really matter, and can it really work?
From using big data to predict instances of human rights abuse to combining different types of evidence to prove they have occurred, Declarations sat down with Steven Livingston, a Professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Carr Centre for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, to talk about how technology is changing the human rights scene.
“If you are doing political art, you can say goodbye to safety. Art is not about safety.”
Pussy Riot activist Maria Alyokhina discusses how she’s used art to protest against authoritarianism in Russia, for which she spent nearly two years in prison. In this episode, she speaks out against the human rights abuses against LGBT citizens in Chechnya.
After Scott's interview with Maria, former Moscow Times reporter Joanna Kozlowska and regular panelist Max Curtis explore the history of Russian feminist protests, from 1917 to today.
We sit down with world-renowned economist Dr Ha-Joon Chang, author of "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism", to explore economic rights, the welfare state, and neoliberalism in the age of Trump and Brexit. Does the state have an obligation to provide certain goods and services? Can we afford the welfare state? And does the free market even exist?
What is the status of LGBT+ rights in the world today? Who is best placed to lead and advance these movements?
From questioning whether countries of the Global North should intervene in countries where LGBT+ rights are threatened, to assessing the legacies of colonialism on cultures of tolerance, we deconstruct the concept of ‘allyship’ in the fight for LGBT+ rights today.
This week, we’re joined by Masters student Sahil Shah as well our regular panelists Eva Milne, Scott Novak and Matt Mahmoudi
Is there a right to die, and if so, who has this right? A few countries, such as Switzerland, have legalized forms of assisted dying, but others, like the UK, have banned such practices. With the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, this topic has also sprung up again in America, as the only book Gorsuch has published makes an argument against assisted dying.
This week's guest is Stevie Martin, a PhD student in Cambridge's Law faculty, who is researching whether the UK's ban on assisted dying conflicts with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The International Criminal Court (ICC)was established in 2002 to prosecute individuals for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. However, only Africans have been prosecuted by the court thus far, leading some African states to criticize the court for a perceived bias against Africans.
This week, we're joined by Cambridge lecturer Dr Adam Branch, as well as Masters students Georgiana Epure and Surer Mohamed. Why is the ICC accused of bias, and is this accusation accurate? What are the power dynamics that shape the court? And what is the future of international justice in Africa?
Are human rights the best way to view reproductive healthcare? From thousands of Polish women protesting over restrictive abortion laws, to President Trump’s reinstating of the "global gag rule" banning NGOs from offering advice about abortion, we unpack the link between reproduction, rights, and the real people affected.
Joining us this week are three guests from Cambridge University’s Reproductive Sociology Research Group: Dr Katie Dow, Dr Mwenza Blell, and Dr Robert Pralat.
Governments use database technology to both deliver social services and surveil populations. However, with this power comes crucial questions. Is arbitrarily violating people's privacy necessary for national security? Who controls how surveillance technology is used?
Research officer Claire Lauterbach from Privacy International joins Declarations to discuss these complex issues surrounding privacy. In this episode, we explore Claire's research on different surveillance programs throughout the world and why the "collect-it-all" paradigm of certain intelligence agencies is so problematic.
President Trump's so-called "Muslim ban" has upended thousands of lives, leaving immigrants and refugees wondering if they can enter the United States. This week, we sit down with immigration lawyer Ben Gharagozli and Canadian-Somali researcher Surer Mohamed to unpack the complexities of the issue.
In this episode, Ben analyzes the profound legal problems with this contested immigration executive order, and Surer explores the ban's moral problems, as well as the anxieties it has exacerbated among its targets.
NOTE: We recorded on Friday, February 4th. Since then, a U.S. appeals court has temporarily halted Trump's ban, but the fear and uncertainty it has caused still remains.
This week, we sent Matt Mahmoudi to London to interview Dr. Thomas MacManus about the persecution of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority population in Myanmar that has faced increasing violence from the Myanmar government in recent months. Thousands have fled their homes, and the government has banned access for journalists and aid organizations. Is this the beginning of genocide?
As one of the few researchers to be granted access close to where the Rohingya live, Dr. MacManus provides an ideal introduction to the situation. And after the interview, our regular CGHR panel convenes to analyze the deeper roots of the conflict in Myanmar. Why has renowned leader Aung San Suu Kyi remained silent, and what power do states really have to prevent genocide?
Dr. Thomas MacManus teaches at Queen Mary University of London. Learn more about his International State Crime Initiative at www.statecrime.org.
This episode's music was composed by the machine-learning algorithm at JukeDeck. Create your own
In the aftermath of the Syrian Civil War, disarray over the current refugee crisis has created enormous political anxieties in Europe. But to what extent is this a European "crisis"? Are the almost 5 million refugees in Syria's neighbouring countries able to access socio-economic provisions, particularly in Lebanon? Is this an unprecedented situation, or a new chapter in an ongoing story of refugee rights and state responsibilities?
This week's guests are Dima Krayem (PhD student in Development Studies) and Stefan Theil (Students of Cambridge Refugee Scholarship).
Over the last few years, thousands of students have begun campaigns calling their universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. What is the case for fossil fuel divestment? How do these campaigns relate to human rights issues? And is there any hope of mitigating the future impacts of climate change, given the unwillingness of some governments to even acknowledge fossil fuel dependency as a legitimate problem?
This week's guests are Chris Galpin and Emma Bryan (Cambridge Zero Carbon Society) and Carys Goodwin (former New Zealand Green Party staffer).
In our first holiday special, Max, Matt, and Scott explore the many debates around Christmas and cultural rights. Why does Fox News always talk about a 'War on Christmas'? Are the holidays a sacred time for avoiding political topics, such as Trump or Brexit? And if we do talk politics with family, how can we do so in a productive manner?
Who has the power to remake cities? We ask Dr Graham Denyer Willis about security, democracy, and development in urban environments in places like Brazil and America. Human rights have transformed modern cities — but do they empower the people who live there?
In an age where states and even ordinary people have the power to produce fake news, how do we verify whether a supposed human rights abuse is real or staged online? Human rights and digital media expert Dr Ella McPherson explores this problem and her work to address it.
(NOTE: Dr McPherson is currently on maternity leave, but she graciously agreed to be on this episode. This interview contains some minor background noises from Ella's baby.)
Where do rights come from, and what's the point of talking about them? In our very first episode, the panel meets with Dr Sharath Srinivasan, director of Cambridge's Centre of Governance and Human Rights. No one understands these important, foundational questions of human rights better than him. Trust us, we've checked.