In the first episode of this seasons’ Declarations podcasts, the new team of panellists sets the stage for a discussion of some of the human rights issues that do not receive enough attention. The podcast gives rise to a dialogue around the very principles of human rights, informed by the panellists diverse geographical backgrounds and personal interests. Through their experience with human rights issues in NGO work, academia as well as their personal lives, they problematise some aspects of human rights while highlighting its immense potential for positive change. 

To kick-start the discussion, the panellists outline human rights issues which we do not speak enough about, covering a broad spectrum of questions from environmental over political to philosophical topics. In particular, the panellists address groups that often find themselves on the margins of society, such as people with disabilities, inmates or refugees. This reveals how the rhetoric and discourse used in relation to human rights is crucial in shaping both public debate and response to such issues.  

The ensuing debate brings out voices of optimism alongside scepticism. This involves the difficulty of bridging the North-South divide while staying conscious of the lasting legacy of colonialism felt by the citizens of the Global South. With the painful reality that a universal access to human rights is a distant dream for many people in the Global South comes the recognition that “whenever these is a crisis, there is an opportunity to create something new”. As a way forward, the panellists look to the emergence of human rights through bottom-up movement while recognizing the importance of strengthening these through national and supra-national institutional frameworks. 

Finally, the panellists offer their motivations and plans for tackling some of these issues. Though different in experience and perspective, they come together in their quest to understand how  human rights are manifested in the lived experiences of everyday people. In order to do so, they set out to demystify the concept of human rights by showing how it applies to everyone, how it is encountered on a daily basis on the streets of Cambridge as well as in the media, and how we can contribute to make a change.