In this first episode of Right On: Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19, we talk to three leading human rights experts: law professor Scott Burris (Temple University), Patrick Eba (UNAIDS country director, Central African Republic) and Yaqiu Wang (China researcher, Human Rights Watch) and ask them: What are the tradeoffs we should make between individual freedoms and the greater public good? What are tradeoffs we just cannot not accept? And what can we learn from over 30 years of fighting for human rights in the response to HIV and tuberculosis? Moderated by Meg Davis in Geneva.
I am excited to announce the first episode of my newest podcast project: Right On! Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19. In the midst of the first wave of this crisis, it seems a good moment to spark a larger conversation that sustains, nourishes and grows the global health and human rights movement.
Beginning May 1, every two weeks I’ll sit down with a few inspiring activists and experts from academia, the UN and civil society – from Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, everywhere – to hear their views on tough ethical and legal questions and share about their lives and journeys as local and global leaders.
The first episode will air May 1: “When the virus comes in the door, do human rights go out the window?” when I’ll sit down with Prof. Scott Burris (Temple University), Dr. Patrick Eba (UNAIDS), and Yaqiu Wang (Human Rights Watch). See more about these amazing speakers here, and sign up to get a message when the episode is ready to hear online. We’ll continue the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
As countries scramble to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is seeing a massive roll-out of lockdowns, quarantines, and military and police deployments unlike anything we have experienced before. What does this mean for human rights – especially for people who were already marginalised and struggling to survive? Will populist and authoritarian rulers use the crisis as an excuse to expand surveillance, shutting down criticism in ways that threaten privacy, autonomy and accountability? A panel of leading experts on human rights from China, Kenya, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS explore these questions, and how the UN and civil society are responding to them.
Allan Maleche, Founding Executive Director of Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS
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 →
A few weeks ago – it feels like longer, given the COVID-19 crisis – I sat in a studio at the UN in Geneva with BBC journalist Imogen Foulkes, Sarah Brooks (ISHR) and Daniel Warner for a great chat about China at the United Nations. You can hear the conversation here .
Foulkes asked the panel: After years of marginalization, China is exercising growing influence at the UN, increasing its UN spending and heading five UN agencies. But what does China’s commitment to multilateralism mean in practice? Continue reading →
Right before everything got cancelled due to the COVID19 outbreak, I joined a panel of experts on the Inside Geneva podcast to discuss China’s changing role at the UN. With the US taking a step back from multilateral engagement, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has pledged that China will step forward – but what has happened in practice? We explored this in relation to health, human rights and other areas.
The picture is changing rapidly today, with the US fumbling to respond to a rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak, and China offering aid and supplies to many countries. But here’s what we thought two weeks ago.
CERAH-Genève (Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action) organized a lovely interview that explores how I got into working on human rights in China, the “white savior complex” challenge facing humanitarian organizations today, and the short course for managers on sexual violence in conflicts and emergencies which I offer at CERAH. Read more here.
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 →
As the dog sled slashed across deep snow, young Inuit men and women raced alongside, jumping on and off the sleds, hooting and laughing, teasing one another in the blinding white plain. I watched from beside a wood fire, and wondered: aren’t they COLD? They were on a screen in the town square of Tromsø, Norway, a glowing town above the Arctic Circle. This Inuit-directed film, “One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk”, was opening the Tromsø International Film Festival. Standing in a light snowfall before that screen, hot coffee cup in hand, I began to sense the cleansing power of snow and fire. Continue reading →