#BuildBackBetter is one of the hashtags from the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It speaks to hope, and to history too.
It chimes with novelist Arundhati Roy’s wonderful description of this pandemic as a portal. It also chimes with lines from a poem written in a different time by Seamus Heaney— lines that invoke that once-in-a-lifetime moment when the ‘longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme’. And for us—as members of the Global Campus of Human Rights, a consortium of more than 100 universities—it chimes with human rights. Today in launching GC Human Rights Preparedness, we are saying ‘Yes, let’s build back better—both our world in general and human rights in particular’.
We want GC Human Rights Preparedness to be a point of reference in the quest to build back better.
With this in mind, GC Human Rights Preparedness will portray, probe and provoke. Its overall aim is to prompt further development of rights-based approaches to COVID-19, to pandemics more generally and to other types of emergencies.
GC Human Rights Preparedness will identify what has been achieved to date, pinpointing the power of rights-based approaches. It will also pinpoint persistent challenges, aiming in particular to shine a light on the neglected and partly-neglected—from groups and organisations to issues.
It will highlight actual and imminent human rights violations; it will also describe good practices.
It will foreground the role of the arts, humanities and social sciences: even in a pandemic emergency when it is essential to be guided by good science, we should not leave that science standing apart or alone. And if we want science to be ‘good science’, engagement with human rights needs to be part of science’s everyday, not just a matter for times of crisis.
GC Human Rights Preparedness will offer a home to ‘human rights preparedness from below’: it will not treat rights-based approaches as the sole property or responsibility of states, courts and international, regional and national human rights organisations.
It will include perspectives from law, international relations and political science, but it will also extend beyond these.
It will look to history—what lessons have we learned from previous pandemics and other emergencies, and what lessons have we failed to learn? It will look to human creativity too—to our individual and collective capacity to imagine and make real a better world.
We designed our title, Human Rights Preparedness, as a dual invitation. It invites our contributors
to explain the ways in which protecting, respecting and fulfilling human rights, as we understand them today, is vital in meeting the challenges of pandemics and other emergencies, or
to imagine how human rights could be better prepared for such challenges.
We want the invitation to be taken up in a range of ways: video, audio, photo essay, slide shares or text. Contributions can have global, regional or local relevance; comparative perspectives are also welcome. The approach can be multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or from the perspective of any one of the arts, humanities and social sciences disciplines that enrich our Global Campus network—including law, international relations, sociology, economics, politics, anthropology, history, education, development studies and the arts.
In this launch week, we are delighted that the contributors are: Eamon Gilmore, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights; Veronica Gomez, the President of the Global Campus of Human Rights; Zdzisław (Dzidek) Kędzia, one of our Honorary Presidents; and Manfred Nowak, our Secretary-General.
Next week’s contributors will include both of us, and coming soon there will be contributions from Global Campus alumni, from members of our multi-regional Editorial and Advisory Boards and from many others too. A special section called ‘Curated’ is also coming soon: it will host clusters of contributions on particular topics.
Come join us on the journey.
Written by Thérèse Murphy and Kalliope Agapiou Josephides
Cite as: Murphy, Thérèse; Agapiou Josephides, Kalliope. "Introducing GC Human Rights Preparedness", GC Human Rights Preparedness, 30 June 2020, https://gchumanrights.org/preparedness/article-on/introducing-gc-human-rights-preparedness.html
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