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Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast

A show about human rights coming to you every week from the Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights. Tune in each week as our panel explores the rights and wrongs of contemporary politics, joined by fascinating guests from the University of Cambridge and around the world.(All rights reserved, so to speak. Our theme song, "Relative Dimensions", was created by the artificial intelligence at JukeDeck.)

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Organ Harvesting and Trafficking of Chinese Minorities

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)


20 Oct 2019

Rank #1

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Can Human Rights Solve the Palestinian Question? (With Dr Ruba Salih & Odette Murray)

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.

1hr 2mins

3 Feb 2018

Rank #2

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Bolsonaro and #NotHim: Something Old or Something New?

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.


24 Nov 2018

Rank #3

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Is Human Rights a Fable? (with Professor Samuel Moyn)

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.


26 Mar 2018

Rank #4

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Are Human Rights Always “Good”? Or Are They Weaponized? (with Chase Madar)

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.

1hr 1min

9 Dec 2017

Rank #5

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Bodies and Borders: Migration in the Digital Age

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. 


30 Sep 2019

Rank #6

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Change in the Niger Delta: Oil Extraction, Greased Palms, and Petro-Capitalism

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.


6 May 2019

Rank #7

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Welcome to Season 4

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.


30 Oct 2019

Rank #8

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What Can Maps, Twitter, and the Crowd do for Human Rights? (with Sam Dubberley)

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.


11 Mar 2019

Rank #9

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A Right to Sleep: Homelessness and Temporary Housing

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.


21 Jan 2019

Rank #10

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What is the 'Copenhagen Declaration'?(with Prof. Başak Çalı)

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')


7 Jul 2018

Rank #11

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PROFILE: Dr Alexa Koenig, Berkeley Human Rights Center

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.


15 Jul 2018

Rank #12

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Do Borders Hide or Reveal Rights? (With Dr Monica Figueroa)

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.


21 Mar 2018

Rank #13

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Kashmir: Caught in the Crossfire

In this episode we discuss the current human rights infringements taking place in the semi-autonomous state of Kashmir. From the Public Safety Act to the repealment of Article 370, we interview lawyer, activist, and member of the Kashmir solidarity movement Mirza Saaib Beg and Academic and historian Waseem Yaqoob.


22 Nov 2019

Rank #14

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Justice in Transition: Reclaiming Rights Within and Without States?

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.

1hr 30mins

6 Oct 2018

Rank #15

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External Borders, Internal Politics: What do Democracies owe Refugees? (With Lord Smith of Finsbury)

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.


16 Aug 2018

Rank #16

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Investigating Raqqa: Amnesty’s inquiry into the coalition’s military campaign (Special Episode)

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.


7 Nov 2019

Rank #17

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Weaponizing Walls: Trump, the Border, and Its Scars (with Dr. Ieva Jusionyte)

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.


12 Sep 2019

Rank #18

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Repeal the 8th: Developing a Rights Framework for Abortion?

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?


22 May 2018

Rank #19

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Season 3: Memory, Community, Futures

Welcome to Season 3 of Declarations. This episode introduces our brand new team of regular panelists, as well as this year's three themes: Memory, Community, and Futures.


19 Nov 2018

Rank #20