As a member of a COVID-19 working group at the Graduate Institute’s Global Health Centre, I’ve been monitoring some human rights issues emerging in the response. Here’s a quick update as of April 6, 2020.
More than 3.9 billion people, or over 50% of the world’s population are now on some form of lockdown, with growing military and police enforcement of regulations. Human Rights Watch has warned that some authoritarian states are using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to expand their powers, and has documented abuses linked to enforcement of lockdown and quarantine regulations in numerous countries. In South Africa, over 17,000 people have been arrested, with reports of abuse; abuses have also been reported in the UK, Kenya, Bangladesh, the Philippines and elsewhere. As the ranks of national guards and law enforcement forces swell to include volunteers and others who may have had limited training or professional experience, managing law enforcement may cause new challenges as their deployment stretches over weeks or months. Continue reading →
The Uncounted: Politics of Data in Global Health is now available for pre-order in hardcover edition – it comes out in June. Please share with your library.
There will be an e-book too, and a paperback eventually, as well as public events.
More updates to follow soon.
From Health and Human Rights, January 16, 2020
By Sara L. M. Davis, Kenechukwu Esom, Rico Gustav, Allan Maleche, and Mike Podmore
In 1994, when Health and Human Rights was launched by editor Jonathan Mann, it appeared-in print-in a very different world: one in which the internet had just been created, and could only be accessed through dial-up telephone lines paid for by the minute; cell phones were heavy, clunky, and unaffordable for most. Our thinking about health and human rights, formed before the digital age, must now advance to keep pace with its new risks and opportunities. Continue reading →
(L-R) Meg Davis (CERAH), Cecile Aptel (IFRC), Claude Maon (MSF), Christine Alai. Photo © Cecily Weeks 2019
It was an honor to moderate the panel discussion, “Justice denied? Access to justice for victims of sexual violence” for an audience of over 200 at ICRC’s Humanitarium on September 11, 2019. Continue reading →
A quick update here from Norwich, where I’m visiting for the Association of Social Anthropologists meeting. More about that later. Meanwhile, my attempt to understand what’s happening in London, using children’s literature. Continue reading →
Over 200 individuals and organizations signed an urgent appeal letter calling on China to release the Changsha Three: Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze, and Xiao Wu of Chinese organization Changsha Funeng. The final letter with signatures is here: Changsha Three Open Letter 30 July 2019
The Chinese translation is here (中文版): 联名信中文版 Continue reading →
Do health aid donors transitioning out of middle-income countries have any obligations under human rights law?
In February, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNAIDS held a consultation on human rights in the HIV response. I worked with the Free Space Process and PITCH (Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response), which together represent dozens of national and regional key populations networks and HIV NGOs, on a submission addressing just this point. Working with Russian lawyer Mikhail Golichenko, we argued that donors that transition abruptly may risk violating human rights standards—here’s why.
Read the full blog at Health and Human Rights Journal.
Last week, the Bernstein Institute at New York University held a powerful meeting of activists and thinkers about data, algorithms and resistance. We met in the classically elegant Vanderbilt Hall, under the watchful gaze of the portraits of past NYU presidents, but the emphasis was squarely on activism: how communities can resist top-down algorithmic control, and reclaim a space for democratic decision-making.
Some speakers had reports that were starkly Orwellian. Big Brother is here already, but in many countries, he’s specifically just watching people of color, trans and queer people, migrants and poor people – through predictive policing and other algorithmic forms of control and domination. For some affected communities, democratizing data is already a matter of survival.
Continue reading →
I’m really looking forward to this one: Democratizing Data: Grassroots strategies to advance human rights will meet at New York University School of Law on April 17-18, 2019. Registration is free and open to the public.
It’s a promising motley convening of activists, scholars, scientists and lawyers. I’ll be joining the 3pm panel on April 17, “Can we democratize data?” As the organizers write, “Despite datafication’s dark side, a movement is brewing at the grassroots. When data is demystified, deconstructed, and placed in the hands of affected communities it can be used to empower and fight injustice. Exerting control over processes of definition, computation, and machine learning, communities are turning the data gaze on those in power.”
I’m reliably told that facial recognition software will not used at the event 😉 Join us!
This is a stock photo of people having a meeting. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com
I recently met a young human rights lawyer who is starting a government job, and who asked for advice on working with civil society. Her question made me realize that while there are many tools for capacity-building for activists on how to advocate with officials, I’ve never run across a capacity-building program for officials on how to work with civil society.
Continue reading →