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Rethinking ‘Protection’ and ‘Security’: A Critical Appraisal of the Human Rights Defender Protection Regime

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 12.00PM to 1.30 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Alice M Nah

Around the world, people engaged in promoting and protecting human rights have been put at risk for their work – stigmatised, harassed, threatened, attacked, disappeared, murdered. The UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the Declaration of the Human Rights Defenders) in 1998 marked a milestone in the development of an international protection regime for the rights of human rights defenders. Actors in this multi-level, multi-actor regime adopt a human security approach, emphasising the importance of having a holistic, multi-dimensional understanding of security. However, there are critical gaps in the way that protection and security is imagined and enacted. Drawing upon research findings from a project that involved interviews, focus groups and surveys with over 400 human rights defenders in Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Kenya and Indonesia who have been threatened or attacked for their human rights work, I highlights some of these gaps. I also discuss the way we engaged with artists through this project – poets, filmmakers, musicians, painters, digital artists, a textile artist – to produce creative work in response to research findings, showcasing some of their cultural productions. 

Short films from this project will be shown and discussed at the Festival of Ideas in the evening of 14 June at the Ron Cooke Hub. For more information, see: 
For more information on this project, see:

Location: Derwent College, room D/N/104

Admission: All welcome