Latest News Events
The (Non) Observance of Human Rights in Russia
Dr Mary McAuley, a Fellow of the IDCR is giving a series of talks on human rights in Russia. The first talk took place today at 1:00 pm and laid out a broad set of questions with respect to the (non) observance of human rights in Russia. The Duma elections of 2011 produced a number of dramatic protest events in Moscow that in Dr McAuley’s words ‘left both the government and the organisers in a state of bewilderment’ for their unprecedented nature. Protest demands have focused on classic democratic rights to free and fair elections, observance of the 1993 Constitution, the right to an independent judiciary, and the right to protest, assemble, and freedom of speech.
But behind these more salient events, McAuley’s research maps out a significant gap between the constitutional framework for the protection of human rights, which is inspired by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the observance of human rights, where there continue be a large number number of documented violations of human rights (see Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the US State Department). Moreover, there is a large and active ‘new’ human rights community, McAuley contends, that is well organised, but has yet to overcome problems of collective action to form a large and sustainable movement for human rights.
Her next seminar is on 7 February and will focus on the possible explanations for state violation of human rights and the inability for a large human rights movement to form. The third seminar on 6 March brings the argument together and foreshadows her new book on the subject that she is currently writing.
For more information, please contact the IDCR on email@example.com
Dr. Mary McAuley (M.A., D. Phil. Oxon) left an academic career, as Fellow in Politics at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, in 1995 to join the Ford Foundation. Her previous positions included posts at Essex University, visiting professorships at the universities of Wisconsin (Madison) and California (Berkeley), and a British Academy Research Readership. In 1996 she opened the Ford Foundation’s Moscow Office, with responsibility for developing the Foundation’s grant-making programme throughout Russia, a programme which included human rights and legal reform, civil society and local governance, higher education, culture and media. In May 2002 she left the Foundation to return to London, where, as an Associate of the International Centre for Prison Studies, (then at King’s College, London, now in partnership with the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex) she pursued interests in the reform of juvenile justice. At present she is working on a study of the Russian human rights community 1991-2011. Recent publications include: Soviet Politics 1917-1991, Oxford University Press, 1992, Russia’s Politics of Uncertainty, Cambridge University Press, 1997, Deti v tiurmye [Children in Prison], Moscow, OGI, 2008 and Children in Custody: Anglo-Russian Perspectives, Bloomsbury Academic, 2010
After a successful Ecocide mock trial at the Supreme Court on 30 September 2011 that indicted the defendants, the next event will be The Sentence, which features a mediation session, break out discussion groups, and other activities for a day of awareness raising around the issue of the rights of the Earth.
For more information and registration, see:
The IDCR has been awarded a new contract by the United Nations Development Programme for a project on the relationship between democratic governance and sustainable human development.
Background to the project
In the context of the global economic and other crises, development discourses are being reshaped as international and national financial, economic and political contexts continue to change. The concept of development itself has moved well beyond its original conception based on growth in income to broader concepts of human development.
Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, the idea of governance has also evolved beyond its more technocratic understanding to the idea of democratic governance, with an emphasis on democratic process, which includes such values and principles as inclusion, participation, non-discrimination, accountability and transparency.
In response to these shifts, and as the Rio+20 Conference approaches, the development agenda of the international community is also changing. In short, sustainable human development, with its three pillars of (1) the social, (2) the economic and (3) the environmental, is returning to centre stage as an organizing concept for development.
International discussions of the means through which sustainable human development is to be achieved have included a significant role for democratic governance (DG). The assumption is that more inclusive, participatory, and accountable governance is important for achieving sustainable human development (SHD).
Additionally, while the number of countries usually classified as ‘democratic’ increases, so too does global inequality. Moreover, although the argument is intuitively attractive and widely acknowledged, it is little explored and the robust empirical basis for these assumptions is currently weak.
Some existing statistical analysis has suggested that democracies are better at providing human development (a combined measure of income, literacy and longevity) and better at distributing the benefits of development, measured primarily through income distribution indicators.
It also shows that democracies lower the probability of inter-state conflict, that democracies tend to use less repression in the face of domestic conflict and that they are better at protecting human rights. There is also a positive and significant relationship between income distribution and the protection of civil and political rights, even after controlling for democracy, conflict, ethnic fractionalization, population size and regional location.
These analyses, however, have not focused precisely on operational measures of democratic governance or sustainable human development.
UNDP as a key development organization and as the UN system’s main advocate of democratic governance needs to explore the relevance and importance of DG in SHD further, and how support to each of the pillars and their interaction can contribute to the achievement of SHD.
The team is led by Professor Todd Landman, Director of the IDCR and includes his assistant Dr Dorothea Farquhar (PhD political science and quantitative analyst) and Dr Alejandro Quiroz Flores (PhD political science, quantitative analyst, Lecturer in the Department of Government).
The key outputs
I. Literature review on existing research showing the linkages between democratic governance and sustainable human development.
II. Preliminary report which, drawing on existing definitions and frameworks within the UN system, lays out:
- Conceptual and methodological framework that defines and measures both concepts for the purpose of this analysis;
- Theoretical framework that specifies possible causal mechanisms that link DG and SHD;
- Datasets which could be used to undertake the analysis and briefly highlight the strengths and weaknesses of available datasets in this context.
III. Cross-national and time-series statistical models that control for other explanatory factors.
IV. Final report which presents and summarizes the above outputs, with a summary using language appropriate for non-statisticians, and a technical annex.
On Tuesday 17 January 2012, Dr Anja Shortland, from Brunel University and the German Institute for Economic Research presented a paper entitled ‘War and Famine, Peace and Light? The Economic Dynamics of Conflict in Somalia 1993-2009′. The paper is co-authored by Katerina Christopoulou (Risk Management Solutions Ltd) and Charalampos Makatsoris (Brunel University).
The paper analyses the economic logic of the world’s longest-running civil conflict using remote sensing, photogrammetric software and geo-coded conflict event data. It uses night-time satellite images of Somalia’s cities from 1993-2009 to proxy for changes in disposable income for different income groups. It analyses the effects of local and remote conflict at the city level, controlling for initiatives to establish super-regional governance and exogenous economic shocks.
It shows that violent conflict in Mogadishu causes large-scale migration to more stable regions and generates financial transfers to the refugees’ host communities. Humanitarian assistance benefits (Northern) urban elites, which are veto players in any political settlement for a united Somalia. The findings are interpreated as an “aid curse” which funds continued state failure and civilian abuse in Southern Somalia.
Dr Shortland recently presented another paper on Somali piracy at Chatham House. Click here for details:
The IDCR and the University of Essex hosted an event entitled ‘New Technologies and Human Rights’ in London on 15 December 2011. With over 50 participants from the public and private sector, the event was successful in provoking an extremely topical debate on the role of new technology in promoting human rights. The event featured presentations from Ken Banks from FrontlineSMS, Jonathan Crook from Cyberalpha, Mandy Kirby from Maplecroft and Anita Brauer from the German Development Institute.
The original event was posted here: http://www.idcr.org.uk/new-technologies-and-human-rights
An independent review from The Webologist is here:
The IDCR combines rigorous social science analysis with a concern for democracy, justice, governance and human rights. It works with a variety of private and public sector organisations and features new technology in much of its work. Its partnerships with Cyberalpha and the Mackman Group are producing cutting edge solutions to data visualisation at the micro and macro levels of analysis.