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What do human rights defenders need to flourish in Scotland? 

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A human rights defenders' podcast with Clare MacGillivray, as part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme

Episode 1

In Episode 1, I'm joined by Carolyn Scott, a journalist who has worked in human rights for several years, to explore some of themes that have come from interviews with grassroots activists across Scotland.

What is a human rights defender?

“Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner. This could be in a voluntary role, or in paid employment.

As this research discovered, not all people who could be described as human rights defenders identify with the term. We explore this in episodes 1 & 2.

Episode one explores the real experiences of human rights defenders across Scotland.

We explore the impact that working as a human rights defender has on the daily lives of those fighting for change. One common theme that arose was the severity of threats that many people experienced.

"I've made my peace with it, like that's a possibility, I've had that conversation with my husband that that could happen to me, I could be physically harmed, I could be murdered."

Episode 2

In the second episode, I talk to Naomi McAuliffe, Scotland Director of Amnesty International, to look at these issues on a national and international level.

What can we do right here in Scotland to help protect human right defenders? 

This episode explores the international frameworks that could be used to protect human rights defenders; how we monitor human rights incidents or incidents against human rights defenders; and, what can be done nationally here in Scotland by bodies like the Scottish Human Rights Commission, our National Human Rights Institution.

 

"In other countries where human rights defender is a more commonly used term they are able to count the incidents of threats and harrassment"

How can we monitor the attacks and threats that human rights defenders face?

Naomi McAuliffe discussed how an important aspect of challenging the attacks and threats that human rights defenders face and developing methods of support, is to make sure these incidents are more effectively monitored and reported on.

Episode 3

In the third episode I talk to Andrew Anderson, Director of Frontline Defenders an international human rights organisation, with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk.

What can we learn from the international community?

This episode explores where best practice can be seen globally and locally, and how to support human rights defenders in practical ways.

"One of the strengths of human rights defenders is how passionate and emotionally committed they are. People are so driven by what they're focusing on that they don't want to take time to think about "how do we make this sustainable?""

How can we act to avoid burnout rather than just support people after it's happened?

Andrew Anderson spoke of the passion and dedication that human rights defenders have towards there work, but that often this can lead to a reluctance to taking breaks. So how can we ensure there are practices in place to avoid burnout?

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This podcast was produced as part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program.

About

Clare MacGillivray

Clare is a community worker, activist and campaigner for human rights and the director of Making Rights Real. A passionate community development practitioner, she has over 20 years experience of working with communities campaigning for equality and social justice.

A Board member and European Director with the International Association for Community Development, in 2019 she was awarded the Global Ambassador Award for Community Development.

Clare is a Trustee with the Children’s Parliament and an Atlantic Fellow for Economic and Social Equity with London School of Economics.

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The project: a note from Clare MacGillivray

The fearless podcast series is exploring what life is like for human rights defenders in Scotland: who they are, the challenges they face, and what we need in order to protect them and allow human rights defenders to flourish.

Over the past few months, I’ve been on a journey. I’ve been speaking to people across Scotland, from different sectors, and different walks of life, people who I would describe as grassroots Human Rights Defenders but as I’ve experienced, they might not always refer to themselves as that. I’ve been doing this as part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme - I’ve been carrying out research into what Human Rights Defenders need to flourish in Scotland.

And I want to explore and share some of the themes that have come up again and again in those discussions.

This first episode explores the issues that many human rights defenders face at the grassroots level across Scotland. We’ll hear from some of the people I’ve interviewed over the past few months, and look at what they identify as the main issues that need to be addressed and how those could actually be addressed both locally, nationally and internationally.

In the second episode, I am talking to Naoimi McAuliffe, Scotland Director of Amnesty International to look at these issues on a national and international level. That episode explores the international frameworks that could be used to protect human rights defenders; how we monitor human rights incidents or incidents against human rights defenders; and, what can be done nationally here in Scotland by bodies like the Scottish Human Rights Commission, our National Human Rights Institution.

And in the third episode, I’ll be talking to Andrew Anderson, Director of Frontline Defenders an international human rights organisation, with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk. I’ll be exploring where best practice can be seen globally and locally, and how to support human rights defenders in practical ways.

You can listen via the links above, subscribe on Spotify or iTunes, and follow on Twitter @Fearless_Pod

Thanks for listening, and a huge thanks to all of those who have taken part in this research over the past few months.