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The Rights Track
32 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
Sowing Division: COVID-19, democracy and migration
In Episode 8 of Series 6 Todd is in conversation with Arlene Tickner and David Owen about the impact of Covid-19 on democracy and migration. Arlene is a Professor of International Relations in the School of Political Science, Government and International Relations at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. David is a Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at Southampton University. 0.00-12.40 Todd starts by asking David about the relationship between democracy and human rights. David says that human rights and democracy are mutually entwined. They secure our basic standing, interest and membership in a democracy, whilst being a part of a democracy is meant to ensure those rights are available to us. Todd expands on David’s explanation and asks him about how Covid-19 has compromised the ideals of democracy and the protection of human rights. David points to three things that have questioned every day ideas of democracy: How within states different people (e.g. permanent/temporary residents/asylum seekers and refugees) are treated unequally The depth of global inequalities around health (e.g., Africa has just 3000 intensive care beds on the whole continent) Between and within states we are radically interdependent (poverty/lack of education in other parts of the world are threats to us all Todd asks Arlene about how she sees things from her base and perspective in Colombia. She outlines the political backdrop across Latin America where she says people are increasingly questioning democracy as the best form of government because of its failings. The pandemic has underscored different forms of inequality and is crucial in understanding growing forms of social protest in the region. She points to two specific issues that underscore the shortcomings of the democracies in this part of the world: Latin America is the worst affected region accounting for 35% of all deaths from Covid-19 despite representing only 8% of the global population (Colombia is top of the global list for deaths) Vaccination programme is extremely slow (e.g. only just beginning in Paraguay) Todd comments that there is something of a myopia towards this part of the world and asks Arlene to talk specifically about recent protests in Colombia itself. Arlene says the country has undergone a number of protests since peace accords were signed a few years ago which was to be expected. But she adds the more recent protests were related to tax reforms -proposed in the middle of the pandemic. This caused considerable discontent among the middle classes. Protests were also linked to ineffective implementation of the peace accords, discontent around access to education for young people, frustration over the pandemic and a deteriorated health infrastructure and pensions. Excessive police force used to deal with protestors has worsened the situation and invitations for dialogue have been empty offers. 12.40-18.00 Todd mentions recent protests in the UK (Black Lives Matter, violence against women, anti lockdown, European Football Cup final violence and racism) and asks David for his take. He says there is a question of how to balance public health security with the right to protest (a fundamental human right). A more worrying issue for democracy in the UK he says is a lesson learned from Trump America around using culture as a way of focusing and intensifying social division (something he believes Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have engaged in in a bid to silence/counter the traditional left). He adds culture is becoming something of a key battleground for the kind of democracy people want (relatively thin as in Turkey/India/Russia with a strong executive) or a more egalitarian form of democracy with genuine opportunities to self-govern and participate. Todd picks up on David’s mention of ‘wokeism’ and points out that it is something that still isn’t well understood in the UK. He goes on to ask David about the lifting of restrictions in the UK despite rising cases of Covid. David refers to the England football team as a representation of the conflicted visions around what Britain/England should look like. One is a diverse and multicultural ‘bringing people together’ vision - the other is focused on division, generating division and ruling through division. Todd agrees. 18.00-24.43 The discussion moves to migrants and migration. Todd asks Arlene about the situation in Venezuela which has been highly unstable since the 1990s and where many people have decided to leave the country and flee to Colombia. Arlene says there is both a political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela (exacerbated unintentionally she says by the US) which has led to some 2 million Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia. LA countries more widely have been unable to agree on a strategy to deal with this, but the Colombian President has afforded temporary protection status to all those migrants who arrived before January 2021. This has created a huge strain on Colombia’s fiscal capabilities. Arlene believes this to be part of the President’s ambitions to force the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro out of power. Todd also asks about widespread social protests in Cuba and Arlene says these protests were a surprise to many, but that essentially were a response to growing discontent with the handling of the pandemic and certain human rights. She adds sanctions put in place by Donald Trump when he was US president have hit the Cuban economy hard. 24.43-end Todd asks David and Arlene to reflect on what the future of democracy holds. David says that in Europe the massive visibility of the inequalities discussed may be a spur for a re-engagement of social democracy and taking inequality seriously. He mentions Portugal as leading the way in temporarily giving some migrants the same rights to healthcare as its citizens. The ways in which some states have handled the pandemic will have implications for how politics in those states develops post/declining-pandemic. Arlene says there are few success stories from the region, but has simply placed in sharp relief how those democracies are failing. Saying that she does think Uruguay and Chile provide some sources of hope. She says events around the pandemic have raised questions for her around ‘who is the human’ in human rights and so she feels both pessimistic and hopeful about the future of democracy.
29 minutes | Jul 12, 2021
Tackling Covid-19 and terrorism - the need for a human rights approach
In Episode 7 of Series 6 Todd is in conversation with Tom Parker, a prominent counterterrorism practitioner who has consulted for the EU, the UN, Amnesty International and MI5 on post-conflict justice, security sector reform, and counter-terrorism. He is author of a new book, Avoiding the Terrorist Trap: Why Respect for Human Rights is the Key to Defeating Terrorism and in this episode he and Todd are reflecting on the complex interplay between counter-terrorism and human rights in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. NB By using the link above and the following codes, you can enjoy a substantial discount on Tom's book 55% discount on the Hardback version using the code: P995PARKERHC 30% discount on the eBook version using the code: P995PARKEREB 0.00-03.43 Todd asks Tom about a view expressed in his book that there is no set profile of a terrorist. Tom says there have been many attempts to profile the type of individual who becomes a terrorist but that this does not work. Terrorists come from all backgrounds and walks of life, they are male/female and young/old. He mentions Mohamed Merah who shot and killed seven people in Toulouse and his brother who although from the same background and influences went on to marry a Jewish woman and get involved in inter-faith dialogue. Tom says there are a host of pressures from different sources that push people towards terrorism and that there are certain behaviours that can influence whether terrorism emerges in a particular society such as the marginalisation or abuse of people. 03.43-15.20 Todd asks Tom why he believes a human rights framework is so key to tackling terrorism. Tom explains that while researching his book he looked closely at materials in which terrorists over 150 years and across continents shared information about their ‘cause’ or activities. He outlines six core principles that emerge: Asymmetrical warfare Attrition Propaganda by deed Revolutionary prototype Provoking a reaction in the existing Government Undermine legitimacy of existing Government In the latter two, Tom believes a human rights framework is particularly key as it stops Governments falling into a trap of over-reaction. He mentions the activities of Baader Meinhoff in the late 60s through to the 1980s. Todd asks Tom to say more about the idea that open societies are more vulnerable to terrorism and feel more pressure to create restrictive measures to prevent it. Tom says terrorism tends to happen in democracies rather than authoritarian societies. Terrorists are using violence often to open a political dialogue. Human rights law does not prevent states from taking action to protect themselves. Rather, Tom says, it is quite permissive with a range of options within a framework and he sees no reason to step outside that framework. He talks briefly about his own experiences in the 1990s as a security officer in the UK working within this framework. He sees no tension between effective counter-terrorism and human rights observance. Todd presses Tom on the claim from some quarters that the perceived existential threat of terrorism leads states to curb freedoms and violate human rights. Tom references Mao Tse Tung’s analogy of the War of the Flea and explains that it’s the reaction to a perceived threat that is the actual threat. He talks about Al Qaeda and how in his view it never posed a real existential threat to the United States compared with other threats including COVID-19. He goes on to say that despite this, many of the laws passed as a result of 9/11 are still in force today. He says he is in favour of the system used in the UK during the Troubles in Northern Ireland when all anti-terrorism legislation was temporary and designed to restore the status quo and therefore reviewed, renewed where necessary and updated or changed regularly. This has been lost since 9/11 in the US, UK and Europe he adds. He also adds that this has been done in the context of new technical and highly intrusive advancements that did not exist 20 years ago and may be hard to dismantle. 15.20-23.30 The conversation moves to COVID-19 and whether it can be perceived as an existential threat and whether responses to it can be perceived as curbing human rights. Tom talks about ‘privilege’ and how the threat seems larger in the West compared with Nigeria where he is currently based and where there are other as if not more serious public health threats such as malaria. International human rights law anticipates the curbing of public freedoms to protect public health so he says there isn’t a threat per se to human rights from it as long as the curbs are lawful/ proportionate etc. Todd presses Tom on public concerns around the measures used to tackle COVID-19 and how long they will continue to be left in place. Tom references the Iron Law of Bureaucracy, a concept in political science that an established democracy and its supportive state institutions have a tendency to enlarge and enhance themselves. He says we don’t think enough about the length of time we may have to live with measures after a threat has passed. He mentions the shoe bomber Richard Reid and how we still take our shoes off at airports because one person tried unsuccessfully to smuggle a bomb onto a plane in his shoe. He points out that when something fails, terrorists tend to move onto different things. He points to the length of time it took for the so-called Ring of Steel around London established as a response to the threat posed by the IRA took many years to gradually dwindle because these things are hard to change back once they are in place. Tom talks briefly about the development of new technologies such as number plate and facial recognition and smart cities and the potential implications of that with free public space shrinking and the potential for these technologies to be exploited for nefarious purposes. 23.30-end Todd wonders if our attention will return to terrorism post COVID and if there are any learnings from the experience to help in tackling terrorism. Tom says public focus may have left terrorism but it hasn’t gone away especially right-wing and Islamist extremism. He agrees that the pandemic has had a ‘slightly depressing’ effect on terrorism and that the threats are likely to emerge as significant as they were pre-pandemic. Todd brings Tom back to the focus of his book to reflect once again on the central premise of the book that a human rights based approach to tackling terrorism is key. Tom agrees that counter-terrorism and public health are hard and that there will always be contention and disagreement. A human rights approach helps resist the goals that terrorist organisations are seeking to achieve. It is a more measured and careful way of tackling the problem. Further links and references A reminder that by using the link above and the following codes, you can enjoy a substantial discount on Tom's book: 55% discount on the Hardback version using the code: P995PARKERHC 30% discount on the eBook version using the code: P995PARKEREB Other links Martha Crenshaw (political scientist and prominent terrorism researcher)
28 minutes | May 11, 2021
Promoting and preserving children’s rights after Covid-19: what needs to happen?
In Episode 6 of Series 6, Todd is joined by Professor Aoife Nolan, to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the human rights of children. Aoife is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre in the School of Law at the University of Nottingham. In addition, she has worked with a range of civil rights organisations and is a trustee for JustFair. 0.00-04.10 Todd begins by asking Aoife to outline the impact of the pandemic on the human rights of children. She points to the wide-ranging global impact of the pandemic and associated lockdowns, in terms of the health and survival of children and identifies a range of issues including, education, food access, mental health, increased levels of child abuse, the impact of poor housing, loss of social contact and increased risk of online harm. All of these directly affect children’s rights. Aoife explains that the pandemic has had a hugely unequal impact on children from different backgrounds and living in different situations. She adds that this has entrenched existing inequalities. Unaddressed, she concludes, this will have an impact on the future life-course of some children. 04.10-08.18 Todd moves on to focus on the actions of governments during the pandemic and the extent to which they were compatible with the rights of children. Aoife points to the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognises that restrictions on human rights may be necessary in times of crisis but also the limitations on the exercising of those powers. Todd wonders whether in the light of criticism from anti-lockdown groups, governments have responded to the crisis in an appropriate way. Aoife makes the following points: There have been a wide range of measures in different states In the UK there have been positive measures, but also shortcomings in terms of food and support for families Some governments have used the crisis to push long-standing agendas not consistent with child rights, for example in relaxing obligations to children in care 08.18-11.36 Aoife gives an example of how the pandemic has been used to weaken various statutes related to the protection of children in social care. She explains how changes have been made in relation to the duty of Local Authorities towards education health and social care. She notes that these changes have been reversed as a result of pressure on the government. She says there are concerns that Covid-19 was being used as a cover for mass de-regulation of social care. She mentions that the UK’s Department of Education was found to have acted unlawfully in scrapping a range of rights for children in care. A child rights impact assessment carried out by the department, which signed off the measure showed a lack of understanding of child rights. She points out that this move was later reversed. 11.36-13.45 Todd moves the discussion to the USA, which has not ratified the UN convention on human rights. He points to differences in approach between the Trump administration and the Biden administration and asks Aoife to comment on the progress towards getting children back into school. Aoife points out that approaches to education are very much state driven, and although not an expert on matters relating to US education points out that: Schools cannot re-open without adequate planning, safety provision, and funding Even though the USA is not a party to the UN Convention, individual state constitutions include provisions for the protection of children’s rights 13.45-16.55 Aiofe reviews the situation in South Africa around school closures and re-opening, and says the net effect has been to amplify inequalities within the country: The effect of closures was to move education online but large numbers of children did not have access to the internet There were issues around re-opening in terms of infrastructure shortcomings and lack of support for school re-opening As a result, re-opening took place against in non-Covid safe schools with implications for health, provision of school meals, and education. They move on to discuss the terrible situation with Covid-19 cases and deaths in India and what Aoife thinks about the impact on children’s rights. She suggests that, beyond concerns related to Covid infections, the health crisis and associated lockdowns have interfered with the normal processes of vaccinations and health interventions, as well as in education. 16.55-18.12 Asked about the response of the Council of Europe, of which she is a member, Aoife reports that the Council has identified worrying trends in respect of: School closures Lack access to healthcare services Mental health issues Loss of social contact 18.12-20.23 Todd asks about the work of activists and advocacy groups in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic. Aoife says she has been impressed by the large amount of energetic work, and advocacy by both regional and international groups including: The strength of the ongoing discourse on children’s rights globally. The UN policy brief The Impact of COVID-19 on children. Is evidence of the traction of children’s rights. Children’s rights currently occupy a higher profile than other affected groups. 20.23 – 23.10 Todd’s asks about priorities for the post-Covid era. In Aoife’s view there must be meaningful steps to get children’s rights to the centre of the recovery effort and policy planning She warns of the potential austerity cuts that may follow in the post-Covid phase and predicts that they will be catastrophic for children’s rights There is a need to acknowledge and deal with the structural inequalities in society, which are exacerbated by the pandemic, and which impinge directly on children’s rights 23.10-end Todd asks Aoife to reflect on the importance of the voices of children themselves. She believes children have been excluded from the decision-making process. Their voices and views have been ignored by governments and that this is contrary to Human Rights Law. There is an urgent need for this situation to be redressed. However, the issue of children’s rights is part of a wider concern for Human Rights she concludes. There is a need for “inter-generational solidarity.” This requires children’s rights groups to work alongside disabled groups, older people, women’s groups and others to bring about change. Further Reading Protecting the most vulnerable children from the impact of coronavirus: An agenda for action. UNICEF, Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Children United Nations 2020 COVID-19 Statement United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, April 2020 Statement on COVID-19 and Social Rights European Committee of Social Rights, April 2021 A Child Rights Crisis A. Nolan, LRB Blog, May 2020 Should Schools Reopen? The Human Rights Risk -An Advisory Note for the Independent SAGE – A. Nolan, May 2020 Of Limitations and Retrogression: Assessing COVID-19’s Impact on Children’s ESC Rights A. Nolan & J. Bueno de Mesquita, May 2020 Covid-19 Protocol R(Article 39) v Secretary of State for Education  EWCA Civ 1577 24 Sept 2020, Equal Education & Others v Minister of Basic Education & Others 2020 ZAGPPHC 306 (17 July 2020)
27 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
Covid and refugees: protecting the rights of the other
In Episode 5 of Series 6, Todd is talking to Mahi Ramakrishnan. Mahi is a refugee rights activist and runs a non-profit organisation, Beyond Borders Malaysia, which works to promote and protect the rights of refugees and stateless persons in Malaysia. 00.00 – 02.55 Todd begins by inviting Mahi to talk about refugee issues in South-East Asia. She explains that there are approximately 500,000 refugees in Malaysia and that: around half are from Myanmar the Rohingya make up the largest refugee group none of the refugee groups have any legal status in Malaysia, no rights to work, education or health care and are reliant on UNHCR for support Malaysia has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention 02.55 – 05.25 Todd asks Mahi to say more about the situation facing Rohingya. She says she visited Myanmar in 2017 and describes her shock at the lack of racial unity in the country. She explains that: prior to the 1960s the Rohingya were well integrated but the situation changed with the installation of the military government in the 1960s there followed mass migrations of Rohingya from Myanmar to Malaysia in the 1970s (Note: The Rohingya were declared stateless by the ruling Military Junta in 1982) Mahi says that there are currently 3 to 4 generations of Rohingya, in Malaysia and points to 3 specific issues for them: They have forgotten their culture Lack of access to education means that they occupy the lowest social classification in Malaysia Their community is characterised by a deep-seated patriarchy 05.25 – 09.50 Todd asks Mahi to expand on the issue of patriarchy and refers to her documentary film, Bou (Bride) which is about the trafficking of young girls into Malaysia to be child brides. Mahi points out that while the buying of child brides is not exclusive to the Rohingya it is a central part of their patriarchal culture. She reports on the purchase of Rohingya child brides by men, via traffickers and suggests that parents are complicit partly because marriage offers a semblance of security to the girls given their lack of legal status (in Myanmar). The girls are in a precarious position, abandoned when they become pregnant and/or subjected to domestic violence and abuse. Patriarchy is evidenced in the following ways: young Rohingya girls are preferred by the men over Malaysian girls because they will be more obedient girls are not allowed to attend school parents control children husbands control wives However, she notes that women are beginning to organise and stand up for themselves and their rights, despite negative reactions from men. 09.50 – 17.15 Todd moves on to ask about the impact that Covid-19 has had on the refugee community in Malaysia. Mahi refers to the continuous influx of migrants and refugees, which has led to a xenophobic reaction within Malaysia. Initially directed at the Rohingya, but now it is more widespread, directed towards all refugees and migrant workers. She refers to existing socio-economic tensions along ethnic lines within the country and the focus of that discontent on the refugee community and points to the lack of a comprehensive health care plan to protect all groups against the virus, especially the refugee/migrant community. She says that lockdowns and movement controls have made life very difficult for refugees and undocumented workers to travel for work. When asked about infection rates, Mahi reports that the majority of COVID infections are within the immigrant communities largely as a result of high density living conditions and the impossibility of social distancing at home and at work. She also notes high levels of infections in detention centres. Todd and Mahi agree that this feeds into a narrative that migrants are “bad” and need to be sent home. However, Mahi argues that the problem lies with labour agents and corruption,which leads to the exploitation migrant workers, who lose their documentation and forcing them to live and work in high density unregulated environments. 17.15 – 20.57 Todd’s next question concerns the work of UNHCR, The World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisations and whether Mahi sees any evidence of them working together for the benefit of refugees. She assumes that they have ongoing conversations but points to the need for them to work more closely with grass roots organisations and community leaders. She goes on to outline the work of Beyond Borders Malaysia. The principal aim is to give refugees a voice using art and performance as a vehicle and she references Refugee Festival July 2021, which is used as an advocacy tool. It is involved in discussions with lawmakers re; basic rights to health care, education and work. It undertakes projects like the Livelihood Initiative which involves women cooking food for sale and sharing in the profits. 20.57 – 26.45 Todd asks how the Festival has been impacted by the pandemic. Mahi notes a number of difficulties: the lack of freedom/requirement for permits to hold events at any time the backlash against migrants frightened off some from participating Mahi explains that in 2020 the Festival went online, and while that presented opportunities to reach a wider audience and involve more people from elsewhere including the Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, many refugees were afraid to take part. To mark this fact, Mahi had a fixed camera on an empty chair during a panel discussion. Mahi has passed the directorship of this year’s festival to a refugee artist and hopes restrictions will be lifted and enable it to take place in a physical space. 26.45 - end Finally, Todd asks Mahi about signs of hope for the future. In her view, the current Malaysian government is very difficult to work with. However, she says she will try to use existing legislation to allow refugees to work. She will continue to try to persuade the existing government even though the conversations are difficult. Further links Human rights: reason to be joyful - Rights Track episode with Professor William Paul Simmons about marginalised groups Refugees: why hard times need hard facts – Rights Track episode with Gonzalo Vargas LLosa, UNHCR
28 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Do human rights provide a pathway out of the pandemic?
In Episode 4 of Series 6, Todd is in conversation with Alison Brysk, Professor of Global Governance at the University of California. Alison’s recent work has focused on the global impact of Covid-19 on human rights. In this episode, she reflects on the disproportionate impacts of the virus and explains why she believes that human rights are an integral part of the pathway out of the pandemic. 00.00-03.58 Todd begins by asking Alison to reflect on the idea of Covid-19 as a threat to democracy and human rights. Alison starts by talking about a citizenship gap, that is, people “out of place” physically, socially or in terms of status, for example: Refugees Migrants Internally displaced people She argues that Covid-19 has intensified that threat, particularly for vulnerable groups who have become subject to increased levels of mobility tracking and surveillance. She refers to examples from Brazil, India and the treatment of Native Americans in the USA. 03.58-07.16 Todd moves on to discuss concerns around the way governments may be using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to restrict migration, human rights and curb civil liberties. Alison says the first step is to focus on the interdependence of human rights. She points out that vulnerable people are being made scapegoats during the pandemic deflecting attention away from the real issues. She points to a selective approach to some civil rights over others, referencing threats to property and economic activity as receiving the most push back in California, for example. 07.16-11.00 The discussion turns to the debate surrounding privacy rights - the ongoing debate in the UK around the requirement of vaccination passports, for travel, for example and how that might affect identity rights. Given that this will create individual digital footprints the question is how concerned should we be Todd asks? In Alison’s view, that depends on the functioning of the health care system. In well-established systems for example, such as in Europe and the global North, it could be a problem but there are well established mechanisms for monitoring privacy. In most of the world, the situation is different. Access to this kind of health care does not exist. Health disparities and, therefore, a lack of, for example a Covid vaccination passport could create problems for: Those seeking employment Economic migrants Refugees seeking asylum Some countries stand out as Covid-19 champions, for example New Zealand and Taiwan where there have been increases in state power, but where there are mechanisms for control. 11.00-15.12 Todd asks about the notion of patriarchy and how it intersects with the pandemic. Alison identifies three areas: 1. Production -Two/thirds of front-line workers are women and they have been disproportionately exposed to Covid-19. - Female domestic workers comprise a large percentage of migrant labour and have been left vulnerable to the virus. 2. Public space. Governments have used concerns over social distancing and the spread of the virus to restrict peaceful assembly. 3. Reproduction. Many governments have taken advantage of the pandemic to limit access to reproductive health, for example contraception and abortion. USA and Poland are cited. 15.12-20.12 Todd points to a marked increase in reports of domestic abuse against women, during the pandemic. Alison refers to work carried out by UN Women, and the data that they have collected, and WomensStats, a project she works on. She finds: An increase of around 30% in reports of domestic violence globally The more severe the lockdown the higher the level of abuse The impacts relate not only to being physically locked in with the abuser but also in being unable to access support Examples are given from France and Spain where new ways have been developed for women to communicate and seek support where they are unable to make use of established support mechanisms. 20.12-end The interview closes with Alison reflecting on the impact of the pandemic on her home state, California. Case rates are stabilising, with most areas going down through the tiers 25% of adults have had access to at least one dose of the vaccine. Some issues relating to the vaccination programme have been addressed Bottle-necks in the supply chain of the vaccine Issues re prioritization in terms of who was vaccinated Issues of distribution Evidence of pandemic fatigue especially on college campuses where compliance is low Elderly and middle-class communities have shown most compliance There has been resistance to vaccination in three areas A small number of neo liberal conservatives New age groups advocating alternative medicine Members of the Hispanic population, which makes up 40% of the population and are in the most vulnerable occupations although influential individuals within the community have been working to encourage the vaccine uptake Further reading The Future of Human Rights Alison Brysk, Polity Press, 2018 Why feminism is good for your health Alison Brysk and Miguel Fuentes Carreno, New Security Beat, 2020 A Pandemic of Gender Violence in the COVID Era Audio discussion, The Wilson Center When “Shelter-in-Place” Isn’t Shelter That’s Safe: A Rapid Analysis of Domestic Violence Case Differences during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Stay-at-Home Orders. M. Mclay 2021 Essential and Expendable: Gendered Labor in the Coronavirus Crisis Megan Neely, 2020 The Color and Gender of COVID: Essential Workers Not Disposable People Catherine Powell, 2020 UNFPA. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage. Interim Technical Note: 2020 Addressing the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women Migrant Workers UN Women, Guidance note UN Women 2020 COVID-19: Emerging Gender Data and Why It Matters, UN Women Data Hub, 2020
27 minutes | Mar 4, 2021
Covid and incarceration: how is the pandemic affecting prisons and prisoners
In Episode 3 of Series 6, Todd is joined by David Fathi, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project to discuss the impact of Covid19 on prisons and prisoners in the USA. 00.00 – 04.40 David provides an overview of the prison system in the USA. The country has: the largest prison population in the world at over 2 million people the highest per capita rate of prisoners at between 5 and 10 times the rate for countries like Canada, England, and Wales and even authoritarian countries like China Incarceration in the United States is highly decentralized across 51 different prison systems. Every state has its own prison system separate from and running alongside the federal prison system, and within that the private, for profit prisons account for around 10 percent of the national prison population. There are concerns relating to private run prisons, which have led to the Biden administration removing private companies from operating federal prisons. Concerns raised include: lack of oversight poor quality rehabilitation services and programming low levels of safety and security 04.40 – 06.07 The conversation moves on to discuss rehabilitation. David notes that rehabilitation has a very low profile in the U.S. prison system. The extensive use of solitary confinement works contrary to rehabilitation. 06.07 – 09.33 David says the drivers of the prison population date back to the days of slavery, structural racism and the Jim Crow laws. He points to the post-Civil War period in the US when there was a deliberate policy of incarcerating black people. He adds that its legacy exists today in the fact that a black male is 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white man. The penal system and culture is described by David as punitive rather that restorative: average sentences are longer than in comparable democracies. early termination of sentences is less likely. many more prisoners serve life sentences (1 in 11 of all prisoners) few efforts to rehabilitate and release 09.33 – 12.00 The US is also amongst the worst countries in terms of its use of solitary confinement. There are significant numbers of prisoners on death row who are kept in permanent solitary confinement often for over 10 years. It is estimated that over 100,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement on a daily basis, a number which has increased during the COVID pandemic. 12.02 – 18.30 Todd moves on to ask about the early release from prison of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer as an example of prominent individuals gaining release citing medical vulnerability to Covid19. David agrees that affluent/prominent people are treated differently by the system, but also contends not enough prisoners have been released as a result of Covid19. This does not make sense, he says because prisons are hotspots of Covid19 infection due to: large numbers of inmates high population density poor ventilation poor sanitation an ageing and therefore more vulnerable group to Covid19 population Although data show one in five inmates have tested positive, and anecdotally ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted, there are no data on whether/how BAME prisoners have been adversely affected because that data are not recorded. David says it’s hard to see this data omission as anything other than intentional. 18.30 – 21.30 The situation is similar in other detention centres, immigration centres, jails etc, but the problems of control are enhanced by the rapid turnover of people through those facilities. Todd asks how successful ACLU has been in its efforts to get prisoners released because of Covid. David says they have had: significant success in getting people released from detention centres due to medical vulnerability to Covid19 very little success at getting vulnerable inmates released from prisons some success in terms of mitigation of infection risk in prisons 30.00-end Todd asks about the prospects for a reduction in the size of the prison population. David says the problem is the decentralised nature of the penal system, which works against the ability to bring about reform. This has a parallel in the drive to get all of the population vaccinated against the Covid19 virus, which is also being hindered by the same federated structure. This, he adds, begs the question of where prisoners fit in the priority system for vaccination. Further Links from ACLU Prisoner rights Statement on ending of private companies running federal prisons Banking on Bondage: private prisons and mass incarceration Campaign to end solitary confinement Report on solitary confinement on death row Report on 500% increase in solitary confinement under Covid19
30 minutes | Jan 21, 2021
Covid, race and inequality: why it's time to hold tight to human rights
In Episode 2 of Series 6 Attorney Dominique Day, founder and Executive Director of the Daylight Collective which seeks to fill the space between the status quo and substantive justice with creativity, diverse voices, and multi-sector approaches and understandings talks to Todd about how COVID is negatively and unequally impacting the lives and human rights of Black Americans of African descent. 00.00 – 02.20 Todd begins by asking Dominique to comment on the dis-proportionate impact of the Covid19 pandemic on people of African descent. She points to significant racial disparities in terms of: Who becomes infected Who has access to health care Differences in outcomes in terms of severe illness and death This is seen as an outcome of policies, which exemplify systemic racism at a global and local level. 02.20 – 05.30 Todd asks Dominique which factors she sees as playing a key role in the impact of the Covid19 pandemic. Whilst racism is not intentional she sees it as being ingrained into the presumptions and actions of individual decision makers In emergency departments this translates to medical bias when doctors are working under stress As evidence she points to research which suggests that medical bias disadvantages people of African descent (and which she discusses in a related webinar) Although the data is widely known her concern is that the issue of systemic racism is embedded in decision making even at the level of the individual clinician 05.30 – 12.40 Todd summarises and points out that the reality is that people of African descent in the USA have a markedly higher mortality rate, which is linked to a long history of systemic racism. Dominque points to “social conditioning” in deciding which lives matter. By way of example she points to the decision to withhold the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine on the African continent and argues that it suggests that this is a decision made along the lines of race In terms of the impact of the pandemic, there are parallels within the fields of education, the economy and health where individuals make decisions on the basis of a bias which reflects systemic racism within society She references an email circulated within NYU hospital in New York where the onus to make rapid life and death decisions was placed on doctors working in the emergency department, without supervision and review. Given the intense stress doctors were under, those decisions were more likely to be influenced by bias (unwitting or not) Health care providers showed no willingness to discuss the research data, predicting the disproportionate impact on black and brown communities identifying systemic racial bias individual doctors were prevented from commenting publicly Warnings of racial bias were ignored and continue to be ignored 12.40 – 20.50 Todd moves on to examine differences of outcomes for black and white communities in relation to encounters with the police and references the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson a suburb of St Louis in the US in 2014. The Ferguson killing follows a common pattern of outcomes for the black community A parallel is suggested with respect to the security preparations made for the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 in Washington Comparisons have been made between this protest and the insurrection staged by pro- Trump militants. Todd argues that any move to suggest the two events were similar creates a false equivalence Dominique points out that: In terms of policing there was a higher level of perceived threat and a heavier response during the Black Lives Matter protests than for the recent march on the Capitol in Washington Dominique argues that the former was a racialised response conditioned by acceptance of white supremacy and a long history (in the USA) rooted in slavery and exploitation. She references the origins of racial policing in the USA as being to protect property from the actions of slaves. She identifies a “legacy mindset”, a baseline of white supremacy, where white people expect to be treated differently (better) than black people, a mindset which is a major barrier to progressing racial justice and equality. 20.50 – 23.45 The conversation returns to the pandemic and vaccination programs in the USA. Dominique has a number of concerns. Distribution is a major issue More thought needs to be given in terms of prioritising who gets the vaccine first. The role of essential workers, drivers, home helpers who have been disproportionately infected needs to be acknowledged when prioritising vaccination programs. There is also a need to talk about racial equity in the delivery of vaccination programs 23.45 – 26.00 Todd asks why significant numbers of African Americans are resistant to taking the vaccine. In Dominique’s view there is a distrust in black communities which in part dates back to the infamous Tuskegee experiment, where black people were exploited in the name of medical science In order to increase the uptake of the vaccine in black communities their must first be an understanding that there is a legitimated scepticism based on historical fact 26.00 - end Todd ends by asking Dominique what she is hoping to see from the new government administration in terms of the issues she has discussed in this episode. In terms of the response to the Covid19 pandemic, she would like to see a critical re-evaluation of responses to the pandemic, and in particular the role of systemic racism and its impact on African American communities. Useful links Racial Bias in the time of Covid19, the Time is Now A webinar hosted by Dominique Day Millions of black people affected by racial bias in healthcare alogorithms Heidi Ledford in Nature October 2019 NYU Langone tells doctors, “Think more critically” about who gets ventilators Shalini Ramachandran and Joe Palazollo in Wall Street Journal 31/03/ 2020 40 years of Human Experimentation in America: The Tuskegee Study Ada McVean, McGill University, January 2019 Additional references Assessing differential impacts of COVID-19 on black communities; Gregorio Millet et al, Annals of Epidemiology, July 2020 Implicit Bias in ED overcrowding, is there a connection? Loner and Rotolli i EM Resident October 2018 The effect of race and sex on recommendations for cardiac catheterization Schulman Berlin et al, New England Journal of Medicine February 1999 Implicit racial/ethnic bias among health care professionals and its influence on health-care outcomes: a systematic review Chapman et al, Journal of Public Medicine December 201
26 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
COVID-19 and women's rights: what impact is the pandemic having?
In Episode 1 of Series 6, Todd is talking with Dr. Nina Ansary an award-winning Iranian-American author, historian, and women's rights advocate. Nina is the UN Women Global Champion for Innovation and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics Centre for Women, Peace & Security, and author of Anonymous Is a Woman: A Global Chronicle of Gender Inequality. They discuss the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on women’s rights and on the citizens of Iran. 00.00 - 05.06 Todd begins by asking Nina for her reflections on the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on Iran. She comments that: Covid 19 has served to exacerbate existing economic problems and far from supporting the population the regime has continued its crackdown on advocates for freedom and closer ties with the West The health service is under severe strain not helped by the impact of sanctions resulting in shortages of medical equipment and medicines Overall Iranians now feel more isolated than ever While there are numerous organisations engaged in lobbying on human rights issues the international community could do more The impact of Covid 19 has pushed human rights issues to the background 05.06 – 06.55 Todd moves on to ask Nina for her take on the existing nuclear power deal and US sanctions. She argues that while the sanctions are not the cause of Iran’s economic difficulties they have accelerated the impact of economic mismanagement and corruption, which has fallen on the people and not the regime or its leaders. 06.55 – 11.05 The discussion moves onto the impact of Covid 19 on women’s rights. Prior to the pandemic, Nina says: The advancement of women’s rights was moving at a ‘glacial’ pace. Discrimination was present in a wide range of economic and political activity Stereotyping of women was commonplace The effect of the pandemic has been to exacerbate inequalities, expose vulnerabilities, encourage discriminatory practices, and set back the advancement of women’s rights, in particular those who are most vulnerable and those who are marginalised. Nina notes that women have been losing employment at a disproportionate rate as a result of Covid 19. She concludes by referencing the Beijing World Conference on Women 1995 and the lack of progress made since then. 11.05 – 15.05 When asked about the impact of the pandemic on women in the USA Nina refers to existing reforms which have been too narrow and the need to “move beyond the reforms of the past” to create a more equitable future. Todd then asks whether Nina foresees a move to resurrect the Equal Rights Amendment in the USA (ERA). In reply she points out that women in the USA are not united around this topic and that even within the ERA movement there was/is a tendency to fragment into different groups which is a limiting factor and an obstacle to reform. 15.05 – 19.40 Todd moves on to discuss Nina’s work at the U.N. Appointed as a Global champion for innovation in 2019. Her focus is to drive transformational change by, Creating more opportunities for women and girls especially in technology and entrepreneurship Raising awareness of barriers to progress Highlighting women who have made significant contributions in those fields which have been overlooked downplayed or ignored. Nina refers to Dr. Jessica Wade who been challenging theses stereotyped b posting the names of women who have made significant contributions in the field of science. Working towards equality in participation, representation and opportunity in those fields Discrimination and stereotyping which serve to hold women back. Here she references the infamous post by Google engineer James Damores, whose internal memo suggested that women were biologically less capable of working in the fields of science and technology 19.40 – 21.25 Todd wonders whether it is time for a feminising of the curriculum in line with the decolonising the curriculum movement. Nina refers to gender mainstreaming as a major tool in moving away from entrenches stereotypes and unequal trajectories of development. 21.25 – end Todd brings the discussion full circle by asking for Nina’s thoughts on the current situation in Iran and to comment on the motivations of the state in its crackdown on women activists. Nina describes a regime that feels threatened by powerful women and enacts discriminatory policies in law as a means of enacting coercive control over women. She cites the example of the incarceration of a prominent lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh for representing women’s rights activists In this way women are being denied access to legal defence by the state Far from addressing what she sees to be the legitimate concerns of the Iranian people, instead, the regime is expending large sums on religious endowments and the funding of foreign terrorist organisations Additional references Impact of COVID on Iran https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/iran/ https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/iran-the-double-jeopardy-of-sanctions-and-covid-19/
53 minutes | Oct 4, 2020
Freedom from slavery: what have we learned from The Rights Track?
In this second of two special episodes of The Rights Track, Todd reflects on what has been learned about modern slavery from our podcast and its contribution towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 to end global modern slavery by 2030. This episode features interviews from Series 3-5 of The Rights Track, which together form a library of 26 fascinating episodes and some 13 hours of insightful conversations with researchers from the University of Nottingham's Rights Lab, and a stellar line-up of people working on the ground to combat slavery from NGOs, campaigners and activists, authors, historians, economists, businesses and policymakers. Episodes featured Blueprint for Freedom: ending modern slavery by 2030 Zoe Trodd, Rights Lab Slavery-free cities: why community is key Alison Gardener, Rights Lab Life after slavery: what does freedom really look like? Juliana Semione, Rights Lab Forced marriage and women's rights: what connects SDGs 5 and 8.7? Helen McCabe Rights Lab and Karen Sherman, Author Voices of slavery: listen and learn Minh Dang and Andrea Nicholson, Rights Lab The useable past: what lessons do we learn from history in the fight to end slavery? David Blight and John Stauffer Face to face: researching the perpetrators of modern slavery Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Rights Lab How is the UN working to end modern slavery? James Cockayne, Rights Lab and Lichtenstein Initiative for Finance against Slavery and Trafficking Strengthening laws and ending modern slavery: what connects SDGs 16 and 8.7? Katarina Schwarz, Rights Lab Fast fashion and football: a question of ethics Baroness Young of Hornsey, All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sport, Modern Slavery and Human Rights Unchained supply: eradicating slavery from the supply chain Alex Trautrims, Rights Lab The business of modern slavery: what connects SDG 8.7 with its overarching SDG8? John Gathergood, University of Nottingham and Genevieve LeBaron, University of Sheffield Walking the supply chain to uphold human rights: what connects SDGs 12 and 8.7 Elaine Mitchel-Hill, Marshalls plc Bonded labour: Listening to the voices of the poor and marginalised Anusha Chandrasekharan and Pradeep Narayanan, Praxis Fighting slavery on the ground: what does it look like? Dan Vexler, Freedom Fund Creating stronger places for child rights: what connects SDGs 8.7 and 11? Ravi Prakash, Freedom Fund consultant Health and slavery: what connects SDG 3 and SDG 8.7? Luis Leão, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil Global partnerships to end modern slavery: what connects SDGs 8.7 and 17? Jasmine O'Connor, Anti Slavery International The Congo, cobalt and cash: what connects SDGs 9 and 8.7? Siddharth Kara, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University
54 minutes | Sep 23, 2020
Advancing human rights: what have we learned from The Rights Track?
In this first of two special episodes of The Rights Track, Todd reflects on what has been learned about the advancement of human rights from our podcast since it was launched in 2015. Episodes featured How is the church leading the fight to end modern slavery? Rt Rev Alastair Redfern Crunching numbers: modern slavery and statistics Sir Bernard Silverman Eye in the sky: rooting out slavery from space Doreen Boyd Hating the haters: tackling radical right groups in the United States Heidi Beirich Picture this: using photography to make a case for environmental rights Garth Lenz Refugees: why hard times need hard facts Gonzalo Vargas LLosa In the minority: the right to identity, culture and heritage Clare Thomas Evidence for change: the work of Human Rights Watch Iain Levine Advancing human rights the Amnesty way Meghna Abraham Islam and the West: questions of human rights Akbar Ahmed Pursuing justice: what role for research evidence? Dixon Osburn Women and Trump: a question of rights? Monica Casper Gay rights - how far have we come? Richard Beaven Does America need a Truth Commission? Karen Salt and Christopher Phelps Human rights: reasons to be joyful William Simmionds Making human rights our business Shareen Hertel How can statistics advance human rights? Patrick Ball A matter of opinion: What do we really think about human rights? James Ron Beyond GDP: a measure of economic and social rights Sakiko Fukuda-Parr Modern day slavery: counting and accounting Kevin Bales How do we count victims of torture? Will Moore Do NGOs matter? Amanda Murdie Are we better at human rights than we used to be? Chris Fariss
32 minutes | Aug 26, 2020
The Congo, cobalt and cash: what connects SDGs 9 and 8.7?
In Episode 8 of Series 5 Todd is joined by Siddharth Kara and Hannah Lerigo-Stephens. Siddharth is an author, researcher, screenwriter and activist on modern slavery who has spent many years investigating the issue of forced labour in cobalt mining areas in the Congo. He recently supported 14 families in the Congo to launch a landmark legal case against Apple, Microsoft, Del, Google and Tesla for what they consider to be their complicity in the injuries and deaths of their children. Hannah has worked with leading food retailers like the Co-op and Morrissons to improve labour standards in their global supply chains and now leads the Rights Lab’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the University of Nottingham, where she translates research evidence into resources for businesses and organisations looking to work ethically and sustainably. 0.00– 04.35 Todd begins by asking Siddharth to give an overview of his work. Siddharth has worked in over 50 countries collecting evidence and documenting the lives of workers atthe bottom of the supply chain and the conditions under which they work. He explains that: Severe exploitation including child labour, forced labour, and modern slavery can be found in all sectors and in all countries His current focus is cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo 70% of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Congo. Cobalt is an essential component in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries The manufacture of items using rechargeable batteries (e.g. phones, computers, cars) generates very high incomes for companies like Apple and TESLA. Very little of that income trickles down to the bottom of the supply chain 04.35 – 07.30 Siddharth references a small area in South East DR Congo where cobalt mining takes place. He says that: 40% of cobalt is mined by hand (artisanal mining) under extreme conditions without protective clothing (PPE), with exposure to toxic uranium ore and with the constant threat of tunnel collapse Cobalt ore finds its way via informal channels into the formal supply chain 07.30 – 09.55 Todd asks Siddharth to describe how remote sensing technology developed by the Rights Lab (Slavery from Space) has been used. Known locations of artisanal mining in DR. Congo have been geo-tagged by Siddharth. This data is used to review satellite images and via an algorithm, identify other mining sites to produce a map of artisanal mining. This also shows environmental damage caused by large scale mechanised mining. 09.55 – 14.48 Hannah’s contribution starts with a rejection of the argument that labour exploitation is the result of the complexity of modern supply chains. She says: The main issue is the imbalance of power between major companies like Apple and Tesla at the top of the chain generating massive income and exploited workers at the bottom of the chain Buyers at the top of the chain force prices down The situation is exacerbated by a lack of state regulation 14.48 – 18.35 Todd moves on to ask about how a redistribution of income could be achieved. In Siddharth’s view contemporary capitalism works in an unequal way. He believes that: Value is concentrated at the top of the supply chain, where profit margins are wide. Yet artisanal workers make $1/2 per day There is neither the will nor compulsion to re-distribute income “even a rounding error on the balance sheet would be transformative” to the lives of the workers Companies at the top hide behind the “opacity” in the supply chain and feel no responsibility towards the workers at the bottom Blame for exploitation trickles down the supply chain Siddharth concludes by arguing that the major transnational companies must take responsibility for their supply chains. 18.35 – 21.18 Todd brings in Hannah to review the impact of current legislation on modern slavery. She refers to the UK Modern Slavery Act and its requirements. She argues that the focus is on reporting, but there are loopholes in the wording and language is not strong enough. There is a need for target setting and evaluation within companies. 21.18 - 25.00 Siddharth refers to an article for the Guardian newspaper as a result of his experiences in DR Congo and describes in detail strategic litigation against Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell, and Tesla to force them to take accountability for conditions in their supply chais. The aims of this he says are: For the voices of the exploited to be heard Obligations to be placed on these companies around exploitation, free supply chains, and environmental impact 25.00 – end Hannah emphasises the importance of holding major companies to account, and for greater reflection and evaluation of practices. She sets out the business case for having better knowledge of supply chains, and says lack of knowledge is a weakness. Siddharth concludes by arguing that the status quo whereby the global north continues to enrich itself by using its political and economic power to exploit the global south needs to change. Further reading Diffusion of labour standards through supplier–subcontractor network Stefan Gold, Thomas Chesney, Tim Gruchmann , Alexander Trautrims
40 minutes | Aug 11, 2020
The business of modern slavery: what connects SDG 8.7 with its overarching SDG8?
In Episode 7 of Series 5, Todd is joined by John Gathergood, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham, and Genevieve LeBaron, Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield. John’s research focuses on understanding consumer behaviour in financial markets, and more recently the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on households. Genevieve’s work is at the forefront of the emerging evidence base on forced labour, human trafficking, and slavery in the global economy. In this episode, the discussion focusses on the interaction between the broader goals of SDG 8 and target SDG 8.7, which focuses on ending modern slavery by 2030. 0.00– 05.06 Todd begins the discussion by asking John to give an overview on the drivers of economic growth and the benefits of trade. Growth is seen as the result of a combination of technological evolution and the development of skills leading to increasingly efficient production processes However, the benefits of growth are not evenly distributed This leads to the creation of winners (the owners of capital and the organisers of production) and losers (those not in control of production processes) In John’s view the current COVID pandemic has brought this inequality more sharply into focus, along with the need to ensure that economic growth does not come at the expense of exploitation of certain labour groups. 05.00 – 07.33 Todd asks John about the role of trade and John say it is fundamental in generating growth. He points out that: One of the foundations of the capitalist system is trade and specialisation. Trade facilitates specialisation and growth There have been waves of globalisation throughout history (often associated with pandemics) The last 30 years have seen the largest international movement of capital affecting the location of production and the development of increasingly complex supply chains, which has been good for growth However, he adds that the fragmentation of production has exacerbated inequality, made complex supply chains very difficult to monitor, and susceptible to labour exploitation. 07.33 – 10.36 In Genevieve’s view, discussions on growth often overlook the business models at the centre of the mass production, fast turnover retail sector producing cheap disposable goods. Her research suggests the business models are “hard wired” to produce inequality and labour exploitation. Problems in supply chains are longstanding. Throughout history, capitalism has relied heavily on the exploitation of vulnerable groups for forced labour and slavery. 10.36 – 16.33 Genevieve’s research, covering retail supply chains in China, tea and cocoa supply chains in India and Ghana, and garment supply chains in Southern India, has yielded several insights. Labour exploitation is not unusual. Common patterns emerge Why certain businesses have an endemic demand for forced labour How and why supply chains are set up to facilitate labour exploitation, in terms of how businesses make money from forced labour, and the business models they use There are clear and discernable patterns regarding both the supply and demand drivers of forced labour in global supply chains. She argues that: Although the geography of exploitation and the people involved has changed over time, some form of forced labour is a constant factor in the capitalist model of production throughout history Solutions to issues of labour exploitation need to go beyond looking just at supply chains and confront the structures which have given rise to these problems John adds that a key factor in supply chains is lack of accountability (anonymity) in the upper levels of supply chains, which is useful for efficient production, but can lead to labour exploitation lower down the chain. 16.33 – 19.50 The discussion moves on to the persistence of unfree labour globally.The current organisation of production encourages companies in countries with strong institutions often source their production from countries with weak institutions where the exploitation of the work force is easier. The prevalence of unfree labour in those countries may be low but the effective prevalence of induced slavery is high. Lack of accountability within supply chains is a major problem. John argues that forced labour should be treated as an “externality” and the cost should be borne by both producers and consumers, or governments should intervene. However, given the scale and complexity of supply chains enforcing compliance would be very difficult. 19.50 – 25.25 Todd asks Genevieve to summarise the effectiveness of constraints and regulation in the operation of supply chains. Three main mechanisms are reviewed. Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives Public Regulation, including labour laws, sub-contracting, and regulation of businesses International agreements and conventions She identifies an increasing reliance on voluntary industry initiatives due in part to the failure of governments to produce effective regulation of labour standards in global supply chains. Her new book, Combatting Modern Slavery, shows that corporate social responsibility initiatives have not been effective. She cites a number of factors: Wealth and economic power are concentrated at the top of the chain with increasingly tighter profit margins further down to allow suppliers to cover their costs Lack of regulation of supply chains by governments facilitates power imbalances in favour of the businesses at the top of the supply chain, and between owners and workers Governments have been “the architects’ of globalisation and helped to set up supply chains in a way that has facilitated these imbalances and the conditions which lead to labour exploitation 25.25 – 30.50 The example of the fast fashion industry and the recent reports of exploitation of the local labour force in Leicester, United Kingdom, is discussed. The very low cost of garments for sale should be a warning to consumers that labour is being unfairly exploited Garments are being sourced at prices below the cost of production Labour exploitation is a sector wide problem and is the result of the business model. The situation in Leicester is well known and has been extensively reported by Sarah Connor of the Financial Times (see recent story) Although companies have made commitments to address the situation very little has happened to redress labour exploitation, and to alter the business model There is a need for new business models which don’t rely on labour exploitation 30.50 – 36.46In the absence of effective measures to redress the situation Todd asks whether there are economic incentives which could be brought to bear. Raising consumer awareness is discussed. Genevieve highlights some issues. Finding products which do not have some connection to forced labour, given the limited effectiveness and credibility of ethical labelling systems. Evidence exists of labour exploitation in ethical and fair-trade products A crisis of credibility around ethical brands Instead, she argues for regulation which controls the activities of businesses at the head of the supply chain, a redistribution of profits down through the supply chain, businesses taking greater responsibility for what goes on in the supply chain and a greater role for the employed labour force in generating solutions. John argues for an increased criminal corporate liability placed upon people and businesses. 36.46 - end The discussion ends with John reflecting on the way forward. He believes consumer led approaches are unlikely to work and neither is it likely that companies reliant on manual labour can, or will, act to change the system. Regulation is, therefore, the main option available. Additional Links exploitation and sweatshops are at the core of fast fashion: it’s time to dismantle the system Inside the sweatshops accused of modern slavery UK: Coronavirus exposes Leicester’s sweatshops and government hypocrisy Genevieve LeBaron, Jessica Pliley & David W. Blight (eds)(2021) Fighting Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: History and Contemporary Policy. Cambridge University Press [in press]. Genevieve LeBaron (2020) Combatting Modern Slavery: Why Labour Governance is Failing and What We Can Do About It. Polity. Robert Caruana, Andrew Crane, Stefan Gold & Genevieve LeBaron (2020) ‘Modern Slavery in Business: The Sad and Sorry State of a Non-Field.’ Business & Society. Andrew Crane, Vivek Soundararajan, Michael Bloomfield, Laura Spence & Genevieve LeBaron (2019) Decent Work and Economic Growth in the South Indian Garment Industry. Genevieve LeBaron (2018) The Global Business of Forced Labour: Report of Findings. Nicola Phillips, Genevieve LeBaron & Sara Wallin (2018) Mapping and Measuring the Effectiveness of Labour-Related Disclosure Requirements for Global Supply Chains. International Labour Organization Working Paper No 32. Genevieve LeBaron, Neil Howard, Cameron Thibos & Penelope Kyritsis (2018) Confronting Root Causes: Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains.
32 minutes | Jul 21, 2020
Global partnerships to end modern slavery: what connects SDGs 8.7 and 17?
In Episode 6 of Series 5 of The Rights Track, Todd is talking with Jasmine O'Connor and Emily Wyman. Jasmine is CEO of Anti-Slavery International, which has been fighting to end slavery since its foundation in 1839. Emily leads the Rights Lab's Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning and manages strategic partnerships between with external partners in civil society, business and government, to enhance multi-sector cooperation against modern slavery. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 17 on revitalising the Global Partnership for sustainable development. 00.00 – 05.40 Todd begins by asking Jasmine to outline how NGOs bring about change. The ASI approach is to listen to victims and those vulnerable to slavery. To understand the underlying causes / drivers of modern slavery. To inform the planning of effective solutions. Common themes emerge in terms of who is vulnerable to slavery: people facing discrimination people in poverty people vulnerable to global shocks e.g. the COVID pandemic There is a need to understand the mechanisms by which people become “tricked and trapped” into forms of modern slavery, from the perspective of the victims themselves and to understand that entrapment is not the victim’s fault. 05.40 – 07.47 Jasmine describes the socio – economic factors which increase vulnerability: market conditions which drive down prices in supply chains lack of government oversight of supply chains children are vulnerable to being exploited online various (legal) loopholes used by traffickers Understanding the systematic way people are tricked and trapped means working closely with employers, educators, and organisations and agencies across the whole range of SDGs. 07.47 – 10.33 Todd moves on to ask how ASI engages with different networks. Two elements are identified. Partnering with agencies at “grass roots level” is key. Engaging with governments, multi-national corporations and other NGOs to share information. Example: ASI’s internal survey of partner institutions on impact of the COVID pandemic reveals: 51% reported evidence of increased slavery, trafficking and child exploitation 73% reported their governments had not included needs and rights of the vulnerable in responses to the pandemic ASI use data to lobby governments and UN agencies to ensure awareness of new vulnerabilities to slavery due to the COVID pandemic. 10.33 – 15.20 Todd comments on the disproportionate effect of COVID19 on certain social groups and agrees how important it is to understand and act on new vulnerabilities. He brings in Emily Wyman to discuss the role of partnerships and data and how the academic research can plug into the work of NGOs working on modern slavery. Emily explains that a key role of researchers like her is to scan and review all the existing data and information that exists and to work out the impact that organisations like ASI are having in the field of modern slavery. She describes ASI as an organisation that generates and makes available large amounts of information about the work it does and the impacts it is having. Reviewing all this information can help pinpoint gaps in interventions and provide intelligence to NGOs on which interventions are working. Researchers can also build tools to help develop effective evaluation procedures for interventions and aid efficient use of resources. Emily emphasises how important it is to work with NGOs to understand their needs and build strong relationships, and to understand the key drivers of modern slavery. Listening is key to strong relationships that can end modern slavery. 15.20 – 18.38 Emily mentions The Rights Lab’s Kathryn Bryant’s work with the Walk Free initiative which showed a need to improve the evidence base around modern slavery which has led her and colleagues to work on some practical tools and templates to support NGOs in the monitoring and evaluation of their projects. These cover three areas: Goals Outcomes Indicators The work has also included the development of an indicator bank, recommendations on conducting rights-based monitoring and evaluation, advice on using survivor knowledge and experiences and the development of technological solutions for field-based work. The aim is to improve the evidence base to identify high impact interventions and quick win solutions. 18.38 – 22.02 Todd asks Jasmine if and how ASI uses a theory of change. Jasmine explains: ASI have a “global” theory, which is adjusted for specific local circumstances. Theories are not always successful but need to be trialed by organisations to find what does work. Example: Descent based slavery, Niger, a project focusing on educating children which leads to empowerment and an awareness of individual rights and helps break the bonds of slavery. The ASI theory of change involves working with families, communities, governments and NGOs to evolve community-generated solutions to reduce poverty and vulnerability to slavery. Education is key Jasmine says it’s crucial that donors invest in experiments and trials to find out what works and then if it works invest in it. 22.02 – 26.00 Emily describes the issues around building partnerships and collaboration between research and front-line organisations. There is a large number of organisations but a lack of co-ordination between them There is a lack of evidence / evaluation Competition for scarce funding resources Note: the promising practices database found just 179 evaluations in 1500 organisations. The evidence base needs to be improved quickly Strong evaluations are a route to better funding. Emily says that her work is indicating that collaboration around the area of data and methods is looking very promising with lots of goodwill and willingness from organisations. 26.00 – end Todd asks both guests about the UK government’s planned merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office. Jasmine’s is concerned to ensure that the 0.7% of GDP for projects which address the SDGs remains intact. She says ASI will continue to lobby hard for the continued efforts to tackle modern slavery. Emily fears that the budget will be threatened but agrees that strong advocacy is needed to hold government to account.
29 minutes | Jul 2, 2020
Creating stronger places for child rights: what connects SDGs 8.7 and 11?
In Episode 5 of Series 5 of The Rights Track, Todd is talking with Ravi Prakash and Phil Northall. Ravi is a consultant for the Freedom Fund’s new Rajasthan ‘hotspot’, which is an approach used to carry out work on specific geographic areas with a high prevalence of modern slavery. He is a child rights specialist with experience working on issues such as child protection and right to education. Phil works as part of the University of Nottingham Rights Lab's Communities and Society Programme to understand and advance local responses to modern slavery. This includes work to build a slavery-resilient cities index to help us better understand how communities become slavery-free and slavery-proof. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between the UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 11 on creating sustainable cities. 00.00 – 06.29 Phil begins by outlining a model of a resilient city. The model is adapted from the original work of Hollings and then Hollings in collaboration with others. Described as an adaptive cycle of reslience. It combines the ability to recover from incidents of slavery with reducing/removing vulnerability to slavery going forward. Four stages of the model are described: Diagnosis of a problem and identifying “assets” for resilience Challenge - using survivor voices Engaging with key institutions (media and business) for change Evaluation, review and re-assess “Assets” are defined as: Bringing together police, local authorities and charities in partnerships to share resources information and ideas on best practice Survivor support systems (especially availability of safe accommodation) The aim is to develop a regional resilience map for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Recent experience in sharing the model in Brazil showed that the challenge of getting agencies to work together is the same although the cultures are different. 06.29 – 13.55 Ravi talks about the Jaipur Child Labour Free Initiative,. He explains that large numbers of children are involved in forced labour. Many are trafficked from marginalised communities in Bihar state by powerful members of their own community and taken to employers in Jaipur. They are trapped in a form of bonded labour cut off from their families and living in poor conditions. Others are local and return home daily Laws to protect child rights are ignored Very little money finds its way back to the families Once in the system the children “disappear” families find it hard to contact them The project involves the effective collaboration of a wide range of partners including local businesses, the judiciary, and child victims with the aim of changing existing practices using child labour. The project has achieved notable successes including five child labour convictions. 13.55 – 15.44 Ravi goes onto explain that strong links exist between civil society, prosecutors and state/national government. Co-operation between agencies and Bihar state government resulted in rescued children gaining documentation and access to rehabilitation packages The Police Centre for Child Protection is a strategic partner of the programme State government is fully engaged with the programme 15.44 – 17.20 Phil compares the Jaipur initiative to his model and finds a large degree of match on all four levels, especially: Co-operation between stakeholders Engagement with judiciary/police Re-training of survivors Steps to minimise re-exploitation 17.20 – 19.40 Education is a key entitlement for the children and a key focus of the project. For trafficked children from Bihar: 60% of returning children have returned to education There is increased protection from traffickers who live close by Less than 2% of children are now being trafficked Increasing numbers are receiving state compensation For local children in Jaipur the twin objectives are: Returning children to education Ensuring freedom from threats from within their communities 19.40 – 24.20 Phil makes the point that SDG 11 focuses on environmental and economic resilience in cities. He suggests more focus is needed on social issues and references the work of colleague Alison Gardner on the social determinants of community resilience. He argues that building adaptive resilience cycles helps to keep policy windows open long after an event has occurred. Ravi argues that building sustainability and resilience is not a top down process. In Jaipur the key areas are: Equal access to education Working with the poor in slum areas on empowering the local communities to articulate their problems and seek their solutions Bringing together local authorities, planners, community organisations to focus on the problems Engagement with local businesses to review supply chains to remove child labour 24.20- end Ravi makes some final points about the impact of the COVID pandemic on the work of the Freedom Fund in India. He says: It has interrupted the prosecution of those involved in trafficking It has provided unscrupulous employers with the opportunity to return children to source villages to escape prosecution Other employers have thrown children on the street. The high number of COVID cases has diverted attention away from child labour issues However, the project is working with Bihar government who are sharing data on all returning children to find proof of forced or bonded labour and to build a list of traffickers and employers of children for future prosecution. The project is also monitoring road and rail transport to try to intercept and return trafficked children to their villages. Further Reading Freedom Fund Report 2019 Rajastan Child Labour Free Jaipur Project Evaluation of the ‘Child-Labour Free Jaipur’ hotspot: baseline report Building Slavery-free Communities: A Resilience Framework
29 minutes | Jun 5, 2020
Walking the supply chain to uphold human rights: what connects SDGs 12 and 8.7
In Episode 4 of Series 5 of the Rights Track, Todd is talking with Elaine Michel-Hill and Arianne Griffith. Elaine is the business and human rights lead at Marshalls plc, a leading hard landscape company serving both the commercial and domestic construction markets with multiple operating sites in the UK and supply chains across the globe. Arianne leads the Rights Lab Modern Slavery Evidence Unit’s (MSEU) deployment of research for business application. Her work also focuses on effective law and policy to tackle modern slavery in supply chains and the application of business and human rights frameworks to the anti-slavery agenda. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between the UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns. 00.00 – 02.17 Elaine outlines the work of Marshalls plc, a major supplier of construction products including natural stone. She explains that most of the natural stone is sourced outside of the UK in over 30 countries including Brazil, China, India and Vietnam and notes that it is in these operations and its supply chains, where there is the greatest risk of human rights abuses. 02.17 – 07.15 Elaine describes how, over a number of years, she has closely observed the quarrying process at first hand. Most stone originates from quarries they operate and the company has a dialogue with local operators to understand local labour contexts. They also source stone on the open market where that dialogue is less possible. In the quarries operated by Marshalls, for example in India, all stone extraction is mechanised and over the last 15 years the labour requirement has noticeably reduced. However, she is aware that hand labour is still extensively used in other quarries. As a result of work with local suppliers the use of child labour is less obvious. However, she suspects it still exists, out of sight, and has strong connections to bonded labour and forced labour. 07.15 – 11.40 Arianne reviews a range of information and guidance for both states and companies and points to 2011 as a significant turning point in relation to corporate business and supply chains with the unanimous adoption by the Human Rights Council of the Guiding Principles on business and human rights. They gave rise to a number of instruments and resources and outline: the duty of states to protect human rights the duty of companies to respect human rights the joint duty of both to find remedies to abuses of human rights This has led to two significant advances: It gave companies a framework on which to build policy Companies began to discuss the issues with one another and state actors In terms of delivering on the guidelines, corporate responsibility exists irrespective of the state’s capacity to deliver protection of human rights. Although the guidelines are not binding, in Arianne’s view companies are increasingly accepting responsibility to meet them. She points out that the OECD guidelines for multi-national enterprises provide a slightly different framework. In Arianne’s view, however, there is a real need for legislation at the national level. 11.40 – 15.19 Elaine’s experience is that even without legislation companies can develop a responsible approach to human rights. Her own company, she points out were early signatories to the United Nations Global Compact. Its value was: The framework for action it provided It was an expression of public commitment to the spirit of the Compact The existing “philanthropic” culture within the company made the process of embedding the ideas and developing policies relatively straightforward. This also has benefits for maintaining a good reputation with customers; a process Elaine describes as commercialising an approach to sustainability. This protects the long-term viability of the company, and is essential if human rights are to be supported. 15.19 – 19.26 The UK Modern Slavery Act brought a real focus to the company’s approach to human rights. Its aim is to engage with the spirit of the law, not just compliance. It is publishing its fifth statement on modern slavery It engages in full and transparent reporting of its activities and has evolved an increasing range of indicators and evidence Evidence of training with suppliers Evidence of improvements to due diligence A modern slavery report Details of collaborative projects Details of (human rights) risk profiles for different countries to justify policies Details of spending, and volumes of production across its operations It also reports on collaborative projects such as the IOM programme in Vietnam. 19.26 – 21.36 All agree, transparency, or lack of it, is a key issue. Arianne’s view is that there is a limited level of engagement beyond a narrow compliance with the law. Whilst the Modern Slavery Act has brought about significant change, and served to create a more level playing field across the corporate world, companies need to do much more. 21.36 – end A discussion around the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic. Elaine’s view is that given the extreme pressures on companies, vulnerable workers have become more vulnerable and considerations of human rights have been pushed to one side. It shows a need to: Check that modern slavery statements reflect the changed situation Build more resilience in the system Re-double due diligence. It also points to the need for greater transparency particularly where the corporate sector and the informal sector (criminal activity, corruption, trafficking) merge, but Elaine questions whether there are limits to how much transparency can be achieved.
31 minutes | May 6, 2020
Strengthening laws and ending modern slavery: what connects SDGs 16 and 8.7?
In Episode 3 of Series 5 of the Rights Track, Todd is talking with Dr Katarina Schwarz and Dr Laura Dean. Katarina leads the Law and Policy programme at the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham. Laura is Assistant Professor of Political Science and the Williams Professor in Global Studies at Millikin University, Illinois. Together with Todd they are discussing the intersection between meeting Sustainable Development Goals SDG 8.7 aiming to end modern slavery and SDG 16 which aims to end violence and strengthen the rule of law and governance. 1.27- 5.12 The discussion opens with Katarina commenting on how anti-slavery law has evolved through history and how it has developed to include practices, such as forced labour, human trafficking, and other forms of exploitation. While these new additions can complement existing legislation they can lead to complication, fragmentation and confusion. She points out that modern slavery covers a wide range of areas including: Property rights Labour rights Criminal Law As many agencies are involved, with differing agendas, it becomes difficult to get general agreement on what issues need to be addressed. She adds that modern slavery involves different types of exploitation and for the victims a wide range of experiences. Trying to identify commonalities and treat them in a coherent manner presents problems. 5.12 - 7.11 Katarina and her team are responsible for the recent launch of an online Legislation Database on anti-slavery legislation at the United Nations, which analysed domestic laws governing slavery across a wide range of countries. The main findings are: Mapping found that in nearly 50% of the countries enslavement is not a crime. The same is true in respect of forced labour and servitude. In just under 50% of the countries there are no criminal sanctions against modern slavery. 7.11 - 9.54 The discussion turns to the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Todd asks Laura to comment on how this affected criminal activity in the region. The breakup of the Soviet Union led eventually to increased migration within the region particularly towards Russia, and Ukraine saw the emergence of sex trafficking as the first manifestation of modern slavery. This was able to develop because of: A break down in established legal frameworks. The proliferation of organised criminal networks. Increased levels of corruption, much of which was embedded within state institutions. 9.54 - 14.20 The breakup of the Soviet Union led to the emergence of different types of regimes. Some like Poland and the Czech Republic looked to membership of the European Union Others stayed within the influence of the Russian Federation And others looked towards China Todd asks Laura whether she sees a correlation between regime type and anti-slavery legislation. Laura has developed a ranking system which she calls the Human Trafficking Policy Index and what she finds is that while democracies are better able to implement anti-trafficking policies often the quality of those policies is not always very high. For example: Estonia ranks highly in terms of democracy and yet has the “worst” human trafficking laws, whilst Georgia and Moldova are the opposite. This is a finding which resonates with Todd’s own Human Rights research on the ratification of human rights treaties and the work of Heather Smith-Cannoy from Arizona State University (see below). 14.20 - 16.25 An important issue is the gap between the passing of legislation and the implementation of that legislation and according to Katarina, this comes down to how legislation is enacted. The small island state of Nauru is one of the few examples of an approach which directly criminalises slavery see: Nauru criminalises Slavery . Some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean enact legislation via their constitutions while this is less true for Western Democracies. 16.25 - 17.40 What makes for good governance and implementation? Katarina suggests that, Criminal enforcement has to work alongside the enforcement of labour laws The socio-economic conditions which lead people into vulnerable situations need to be addressed Corruption and bribery at all levels within and outside of government need to be addressed Access to justice is fundamental to good implementation Evaluating implementation by recording, for example, the number of arrests made under existing legislation, or the number of victims rehabilitated is not enough, and often goes under-reported as Laura explains. Effective implementation requires detailed research on how policy is enacted “on the ground” involving local actors and stakeholders to get an accurate picture of human rights abuses. 17.40 - 22.35 The discussion now looks at trends in post-Soviet countries and whether there is any kind of geographical pattern emerging in terms of various aspects of modern slavery. In the early 2000s modern slavery took the form of the trafficking and sexual exploitation of Eastern European women. However, now Laura finds that there is no specific pattern. Males have increasingly become victims of forced labour both in Russia and the central Asian republics, but whilst there are support and rehabilitation services for women, the authorities do not appear to recognise that men and children can become the victims of forced labour. 22.35 - end In looking at progress towards meeting the SDGs, Todd references the work of Gary Marks on multilevel governance and poses the question, what can be done to join up the work of different institutions and what is needed for progress to be made towards attaining these goals? Katarina suggests the following. The need to recognise where overlaps and connections exist between the different levels of governance. To move away from stereotyping of victims (as sex workers for example) because this closes off investigation into other forms of modern slavery. More work on identifying the social and structural conditions that lead people into slavery. The need to harmonise domestic legislation on labour practice, immigration, human rights, victim protection and human rights into a cohesive structure. Laura adds the key is to strengthen the capacity of state institutions to implement anti-slavery laws, and in particular To further support the implementation of domestic laws. To develop victim services and support services. To develop rehabilitation support and services for victims. Useful links The legislation database with a summary of findings Guidance on survivor involvement in policy making Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia, Laura Dean - also available in the US here Gary Marks Insincere commitments: Human Rights Treaties, Abusive States and Citizen Activism, Heather Smith-Cannoy
28 minutes | Mar 7, 2020
Forced marriage and women's rights: what connects SDGs 5 and 8.7?
In Episode 2 of Series 5, we mark International Women’s Day 2020. Todd is joined by Helen McCabe based at The Rights Lab at Nottingham University and Karen Sherman author of Brick By Brick - Building Hope and Opportunity for Women Survivors Everywhere. They discuss the connections between the United Nations’ Sustainable Goals 5 on achieving gender equality and 8.7 ending modern slavery. Helen is an assistant professor of political theory and leads the work of the Rights Lab on forced marriage. Karen is a renowned author and speaker on global women’s issues. She was formerly a senior executive at Women for Women International and is currently President of the Akilah Institute, Rwanda’s only women’s college, leading its strategy, growth, and partnerships. Her main focus is on the role that education and economic participation can play in transforming the lives of women their families and communities. 00 – 4.00 Todd introduces both guests and comments on the connections between the work of both speakers Karen reflects on her work over 30 years and the precarity of women in terms of their rights. (legalised marriage, inheritance, property) Karen refers to her work in Rwanda where men typically resist engaging in legalised marriage preferring traditional marriage, which gives freedom to have multiple wives and which doesn’t place financial obligations on the man. This is in contrast to women who view legalised marriage as a means to safeguard their rights. In attempting to convince men of the value of legalised marriage she found that the protection of children’s rights was seen by men to be more important than women’s rights. Whilst traditional marriage is still the norm in many countries in others legalised marriage and associated rights are in place but not enforced or women are unaware of them. 4.00 – 8.21 Helen sees the parallels with her current research on child marriage and forced marriage. Forced marriage and early age marriage hard to prove in the absence of legal documents, hence the need to ensure full legal documentation of marriage. Legalised marriage confers rights but can also create issues re; access to divorce, custody of children and property rights. Todd suggests that legalising marriage can empower women but as Karen comments, there is a dichotomy between legalisation of marriage which confers rights, and the large numbers of young women and children in Africa and Asia who forced into marriage and have no access to their rights. The key factor is whether women want to be married legally or not. Forced marriage has parallels with slavery because women do not choose to become the property of men. 8.21 – 10.50 The conversation returns to the situation in Rwanda where significant numbers of women are in positions of influence and power. Post war more women comprised 70% of the active population Significant numbers became active politically, entered government and supported pro – women legislation. This gave women the opportunity to renegotiate their rights in terms of marriage and beyond. 10.50 - 15.23 The links between education, access to employment and positive outcomes for women are explored. Education gives women voice but income gives women choice. The kind of education is important It must equip women with the necessary skills for the workplace. In terms of forced marriage girls stay in school marry later, are more likely to go into more options and choice over who they marry. But there are cultural tensions. Worthwhile employment options need to be available post school/college otherwise education loses its usefulness for women. Women (in forced marriages) need more education on; Their rights Their options Support available In Helen’s view a key issue is the resistance men have towards greater equality for women. 15.23 – 20.29 The issues related to women’s rights are global issues. Karen comments on the situation in the USA where; 1 in 16 American women raped as first sexual encounter 1 in 5 women in college experienced sexual assault These figures may be “tip of the iceberg” reference MeToo movement Women are seen as survivors. There are regions where there is greater prevalence but forced marriage occurs everywhere. Helen is working with Karma Nirvana a UK agency working in the area of forced marriage She hopes to be identify communities where forced marriage takes place and the underlying factors which promote forced marriage. Proving coercion under present law, however, is proving to be a problem. 20.29 – 25.27 Todd comments on the disproportionate proportion of young women being trafficked and asks how effective the language of modern slavery, anti-trafficking and the focus on SDG 8.7 can be in changing the situation for women. Karen sees a greater awareness of trafficking but feels the key factors which make women vulnerable needs more work; eg the role of; Poverty Lack of opportunity She also suggests that whilst related trafficking for sex and trafficking for work may have different root causes, which makes intervention problematic. Helen points out that the UN Special Rapporteur on forced marriage argues that linking the issue to modern slavery is an effective way of leveraging action against forced marriage and trafficking. A link is perceived between servile marriage and modern slavery and the global commitment to ending it. The rapporteur sees this as a way to leverage action on gender equality. Helen adds that initial research shows links between forced marriage trafficking and modern slavery. It suggests that forced marriage also has different root causes which leave people vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery. 25.27 - end Karen says that helping women move from victims to survivors and finally to become active members of society offers hope for the future. Giving women the opportunity to rebuild their lives through education and employment gives them and their families a stake in society and is a hopeful message Links and references 1. Universal declaration of human rights article 16 2. SDG 5.3
24 minutes | Feb 18, 2020
Health and slavery: what connects SDG 3 and SDG 8.7?
In Episode 1 of Series 5 Todd talks to Professor Luis da Costa Leão, Professor in the Department of Collective Health at the Federal University of Mato Grosso in Brazil, about the connections between the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDG 3 on good health and well being, and SDG 8.7 on modern slavery. 0.48 – 3.17 The conversation begins with a discussion of the term Collective Health. The concept originated in Brazil at the end of the 1970s amid criticisms of the Brazilian health system while the country was under dictatorship. There is a distinction to be made between medical approaches to health and collective health which takes a holistic view of the determinants of the health of the population, in particular the prevailing socio-economic conditions and how they impact upon health. Luis argues that there is a strong link between conditions of work and health. 3.17 – 6.55 The conversation moves on to discuss the state of public health in Brazil. Todd comments on the large income inequalities that exist within Brazilian society and asks how this is manifested within the public health field. The new constitution of 1988 enshrined health as a universal right and there is a system of universal access to healthcare. In Luis’ field there is increasing interest in the surveillance of working conditions. However, with the recent change of government, Luis notes that there is increasing pressure to privatise aspects of the public health system in Brazil, which could threaten the universal right to health. 6.55 – 11.50 Todd moves on to suggest a strong link between SDG 3 and Collective Health. Luis agrees and comments on the links between health, the work environment, SDG 3 and also SDG 8.7. He outlines his work on the surveillance of working conditions within commodity chains, for example coffee, which have strong historical links to transatlantic slavery. Using sugar as an example Luis describes how there is surveillance of working conditions at each stage of the labour process, and for a wide range of agricultural commodities, which is used to identify examples of modern slavery. 11.50 – 14.12 Todd asks Luis to describe how the authorities deal with reported cases of modern slavery. In Brazil all levels of government have obligations towards workers health and modern slavery and powers to deal with the problem. There are multiple stake holders and also the private sector who are producing the commodities and this means that there is a need for co-ordination between different levels of government and working with the private sector. 14.12 – 16.01 SDG 16 on governance is referenced and Todd refers to the corruption scandals at the highest levels of government and suggests that within the governance structure there is massive opportunity for corruption to obstruct the fight against modern slavery. Luis agrees and adds that corruption has impeded development in Brazil. 16.01- 20.31 In Brazil, modern slavery is officially defined by four conditions each of which is described. Degrading conditions at work Exhausting working hours Servitude Forced Labour Public health has neglected this area and linking public health and modern slavery is made difficult by a lack of reference to it. However, evidence taken from recently freed slaves shows that modern slavery is associated with the denial of acceptable working conditions, adequate shelter, and a healthy diet and this creates major health issues both mental and physical, which affect the both the individuals and the broader community. Not only is modern slavery the opposite of freedom it is also the opposite of a healthy society. 20.31 - end Todd asks whether there are estimates of the numbers trapped in modern slavery in Brazil. Luis says that in the last 15 years more than 5000 people have been taken out of slavery as a result of the work of special teams of labour inspectors. Over 90% of those rescued were found in the agriculture sector. 95% were young men with low levels of education. However, women appear to have been ignored in the definitions of modern slavery for example sex workers and victims of trafficking. These are areas yet to be addressed. Useful links The genesis of collective health in Brazil. The field of Collective Health: definitions and debates on its constitution1 Combatting Forced Labour in Brazil International Labour Organisation Fears for Brazil’s healthcare system Daily Telegraph November 2018
25 minutes | Oct 13, 2019
Life after slavery: what does freedom really look like?
In Episode 8 Series 4, Todd talks with Juliana Semione, a research associate at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, who is working to reduce the likelihood of slavery survivors of going back into slavery by better understanding what can help them be resilient and what support they need from practitioners and policy makers. 0:00 – 4:18 Juliana has been researching the concept of freedom from slavery across three cohorts: survivors, law enforcement officials and providers of care in the USA and the UK. Todd and Juliana begin by discussing the idea of ‘freedom’ and how it is slightly different depending on the cohort’s perception and lived experiences. She states that their definitions are not entirely different but have different priorities. The biggest similarity across the cohorts was a universal agreement that freedom means being free from coercion and free will to do as you wish. 4:19 – 8:09 Todd asks whether responses lean towards ‘freedom from’ rather than ‘freedom to’ do things and Juliana says they were more frequently framed as ‘freedom to’. For example, having the ability to defend yourself against those who would try to limit your free will. She also mentions that a common concept of freedom was the ability to heal from the damage inflicted by modern slavery and human trafficking. Todd asks if Juliana got a sense of how long it took for survivors to feel free? To which she replies no, and it is very individualised, but it is not when you are physically removed from your trafficker. 8:10 – 19:02 Todd moves the discussion on to the methodology behind Juliana’s research by asking why she chose the UK and the USA. She highlights three key reasons: Their shared principles. Their perception that they are leaders in the fight against modern slavery. Public discourse around legislation that can be drawn upon. Juliana points out that access to three groups was really varied but most were very engaged. One of the hardest groups to access were survivors and she relied on referrals from practitioners and other survivors. Juliana then outlines the steps she took in utilising the Q methodology in her research: Concourse - she pulled together 700 statements relating to freedom. Q sample - Juliana narrowed this down to 49 statements for the participants to look at. She discusses how difficult this process was. Hit the road - took statements to different cohorts with an organising mat. She asked them to read the statements and pick the two they agreed and disagreed with the most. Then place the remaining cards in order of agree/disagree alternatively. Score - the placement of each statement is assigned a score, but this is not written on the mat. Factor analysis - each statement has a number, which is put into a Q study package allowing you to create a frequency and weighting analysis. 19:03 – 20:49 Juliana discusses some of the preliminary results and patterns but notes she has not finished the analysis. 20:50 - end Todd asks what Juliana hopes to achieve with this research? She hopes this will start a conversation in the modern slavery world and allow us to be able to answer the question what freedom is. She envisages two main audiences: Policy makers - to help them consider what legislation directs us towards. What are survivors freed to? And how do we build steps to get them there? Practitioners - to help service provision to act with greater efficiency.
22 minutes | Jul 29, 2019
Fast fashion and football: a question of ethics
In Episode 7 of Series 4, Todd talks with Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, a cross bench member of the House of Lords currently working to amend the Modern Slavery Act and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. 00.00 - 01.57 As a member of the House of Lords Baroness Young became interested in ethical fashion due partly to her own lack of knowledge about the fashion industry but also the need to focus on the issue of modern slavery in the fashion industry, and the need to make politicians “sit up and take notice”. 1.57 – 11.09 There is a suggestion that people need to be more aware of where their clothes come from, how they are made and what is happening in the supply chains. First seeds sown by the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh which raised awareness of the possible links between fast, throwaway fashion and elements of modern slavery But Baroness Young says this requires: Moving public attitudes away from notions of cheap throw-away fashion Changing business models in the industry; the example cited is the Zara business model Demand in the fashion industry is volatile. Zara is set up to respond rapidly to surges and changes in demand, which is why it is so successful. It operates a system of real-time delivery but that often means sub-contracting out production to meet very short deadlines, but with decreasing control over the impact on the supply chain and its implications for forced overtime. Some companies have a supply chain involving 10,000 suppliers. Fashion trends are constantly changing so there is constant pressure on suppliers to meet very tight production deadlines, which has additional ramifications for the labour force and human rights. 11.09 – 13.00 As a member of the House of Lords Baroness Young believes she is in a good position to influence policy making in the following ways: As a member of parliament she finds it relatively easy to build a rapport with companies to develop dialogue and to help them improve their internal policies towards meeting the conditions of the modern slavery act She has access to government and through that influence on policy making Her work on cross party groups is also influential through the collection of evidence and the publication of reports 13.00 - 14.20 Emphasis placed on the systematic and rigorous collection of evidence rather than reliance on the anecdotal, for example the work of The Rights Lab, and Todd adds: Evidence is hard to collect Victims are hard to find Practices are difficult to observe However, advances in science and technology are now being used in evidence collection.Todd mentions Rights Lab work using satellites to detect modern slavery. 14.20 – end The discussion shifts to consider how sport and modern slavery intersect. Baroness Young finds that there is little realisation within the business of sport of how it can impact on human rights. One of the roles of the All Party Parliamentary Group is to encourage sports organisations to recognise the existence of human rights issues within supply chains to include equality, discrimination, modern slavery and trafficking. Baroness Young notes that: Large sports organisations are notable by their absence at conferences on modern slavery The modern slavery statements of Premier League football clubs are "inadequate" Football clubs do not have statements on attaining SDG goal 8.7 Todd adds that there is a wide range of activity to investigate. Anecdotally, many branches of sport have human rights issues but hard evidence is in short supply. These include: The manufacture of the football kit The manufacture of the footballs, memorabilia and so on The recruitment of the athletes The Construction of the stadia All of these involve large and complex supply chains, which are very difficult to monitor.
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