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The Rights Track: Sound Evidence on Human Rights

Dec 1, 2020

Todd Landman and Christine Garrington

We are delighted to offer our Sixth Series of the Rights Track, launched on international human rights day – 10 December 2020.

Since 2015, The Rights Track team has released 50 episodes across 5 Series with over 20,000 downloads. Our podcast has received a number of plaudits and recognition across traditional and social media for the work it does in discussing the hard facts about the human rights challenges that face us and how robust evidence addresses those challenges. 

As well as helping to inform a diverse audience with an interest in how sound evidence helps get our thinking about human rights on the right track, it is also used as a key resource by teachers and lecturers of human rights around the world.  

With initial funding from the Nuffield Foundation and then additional funding from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, we have been able to bring you important, inspiring and impactful conversations about some of the most pressing issues of our time. 

We have discussed how organisations fight for human rights, how evidence and inference are at the heart of human rights advocacy, and how scholars and practitioners advocate for the advance of human rights across a wide range of their different categories and dimensions. Our conversations have ranged from discussions about free speech and hate speech, faith and freedom of belief, migration and refugees, and minority rights. And we have been able to devote 3 Series to understanding, explaining, and fighting modern slavery.

Our guests have included human rights academics, leaders of human rights non-governmental organisations, religious leaders, and activists, all of whom have demonstrated an unstinting commitment to the advance of human rights. Our conversations have also shown how positive change with respect to human rights can be slow, incremental, and partial, and it can suffer major setbacks as the political landscape around the world continues to change.

A changing world

Our podcast has been set against a political background that has been less favourable to human rights, where national political preferences have moved toward nationalist-populism across large and power states. The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will likely see a re-engagement in the human rights agenda, as international alliances are renewed and the United States returns to a more multi-lateral approach to international relations.   

Our conversations during Series V took place as the world witnessed the outbreak and spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the worst such pandemic since the Spanish Flu outbreak over 100 years ago. We have monitored the progress of the pandemic with the daily fluctuations in cases and deaths, which have shown wavelike patterns across the world. We have also watched government response to the pandemic with mobilizing public health resources, restricting economic and societal activity in order to curb community transmission, and navigating the fine lines between freedom, security, and safety.

COVID19 and human rights

Our sixth series, therefore, is devoted to understanding the complex relationship between COVID and human rights. We will cover topics such as women’s rights, the right to health, the role of the international community, government response, and the differential and disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on different communities around the world.

Our first episode in the series is with Dr Nina Ansary, an Iranian-American women’s rights advocate and author, who shares her thoughts and experiences on women’s rights not only in Iran as an early site of high COVID prevalence, but also in the United States and other parts of the world.

We were very pleased to launch our first episode of the Rights Track on international human rights day in 2015 and equally excited now to bring you Series VI 5 years later. 

Your engagement with our work and the work of so many others has been a hugely rewarding experience for us here at the Rights Track, and we hope that you enjoy what’s in store as we continue to bring you sound evidence on human rights. 

You can find The Rights Track on all podcast apps and directories and we would like to invite you to get more involved with the production of our podcast by joining our Facebook Group . You can also be part of the conversation on Twitter @RightsTrack.