13 episodes

Existing models and approaches are not leading to progress. Strive seeks out new voices to talk about fresh ideas to create a more just and sustainable world. By IPS News.

Strive: Toward a more just, sustainable future IPS Inter Press Service

    • Society & Culture

Existing models and approaches are not leading to progress. Strive seeks out new voices to talk about fresh ideas to create a more just and sustainable world. By IPS News.

    Measuring human rights

    Measuring human rights

    Welcome to Strive podcast, where we chat with new voices about fresh ideas to create a more just and sustainable world. My name is Marty Logan. 
    Before we get to today’s episode, if you enjoy Strive I encourage you to share it with a friend so they can check out the show. If you’re listening in a podcast app just click on the share icon (the one with the up-facing arrow). Or you can share a post on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn channels. We’re @ipsnews. 
    Today we’re learning about what I think is a fantastic new tool for holding governments accountable to their human rights obligations. Actually the Human Rights Measurement Initiative is six years old, so it’s not brand new, but it was a revelation to me when I came across it recently. 
    What I like is how the Initiative’s Rights Tracker assigns a score to a government’s record on a specific right, let’s say the right to education, based on how other countries with roughly the same level of resources have performed. As a journalist I still believe in the naming and shaming approach but as today’s guest, Stephen Bagwell of the Initiative, and the University of Missouri, St Louis, says, too often governments respond to reports of rights violations by dismissing them as exaggerated or made up. It is much harder to brush off HRMI’s scores, which are largely data-based.
    I also like a comparison Stephen uses to explain why human rights should be measured: the Sustainable Development Goals. There are all sorts of updates on progress toward the 2030 SDGs deadline, when in fact governments are not legally obliged to attain the goals. But hundreds of countries have ratified the various human rights instruments, like the Convention on the Rights of the Child or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — yet no one was systematically tracking their progress on meeting those obligations. 
    One note on abbreviations you’ll hear in today’s episode: ICCPR is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, noted above, and the ICESCR is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both are bedrock human rights documents. The former is considered law in 173 countries and the ICESCR in 171 countries.   

    Resources
    Human Rights Measurement Initiative

    Nepal page on HRMI's Rights Tracker

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    • 32 min
    How development banks put communities at risk

    How development banks put communities at risk

    A 2021 World Bank-financed project in Uganda was supposed to help communities to sustainably manage local areas and to cope with the impacts of Covid-19. But at one site, the Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve, the funding emboldened the Uganda Wildlife Authority. A government body, and the project’s implementing agency, the UWA has long prevented indigenous communities from reclaiming their land near the wildlife reserve.

    Since 2015, UWA rangers have been responsible for more than 86 attacks, including 34 people beaten, shot, or injured, 15 arrested, and at least 29 killed in the wildlife reserve. That’s according to a new report called Wearing Blinders. Reprisals against the local community accelerated during negotiations over the World Bank financing.

    Unfortunately, such events are not rare. In 2021, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre recorded over 600 attacks against human rights defenders in the context of business activities. Many of them involved, either directly or indirectly, development banks. That’s according to one of today’s guests — Lorena Cotza of the Coalition for Human Rights in Development, an umbrella group of over 100 civil society groups and author of Wearing Blinders.

    Our other guest is Ugandan human rights defender Gerald Kankya, director of the Twerwaneho Listeners Club. TLC  accompanies communities impacted by development projects, to denounce human rights violations and hold financiers accountable. Days before we spoke, Gerald and his colleagues filed requests for compensation for the families of the Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve in the High Court of Uganda.

    According to Lorena, development banks often shirk their responsibilities. They claim that there are no links between reprisals against community members and their financing of local projects. She believes that banks’ independent complaint bodies do produce insightful and credible investigations. However in the end, they can only make recommendations, not hold banks accountable.

    One possibly effective pressure point on the banks, Lorena points out, is that they lend public money and are governed by country representatives. If citizens of these countries raise their voices loud enough, the banks might listen.

    Resources
    Wearing Blinders report

    Coalition for Human Rights and Development

    Twerwaneho Listeners Club

    Strive on social media

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    LinkedIn

    • 38 min
    What makes a human rights success?

    What makes a human rights success?

    Welcome to Strive podcast, a production of IPS News. My name is Marty Logan.

    The largest ever settlement in Canadian legal history, 40 billion Canadian dollars, occurred in 2022, but it didn’t come from a court – it followed a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In 2016 the Tribunal affirmed a complaint that the Government of Canada’s child welfare system discriminated against First Nations children. (First Nations are one of three groups of Indigenous people in Canada).

    When I heard about that amount and subsequently how the government was negotiating the details of that settlement, I was astounded. Although I’ve had an interest in and reported regularly about human rights in the past three decades, my most intense experience has been here in Nepal, where for a couple of years I worked at the United Nations human rights office.

    Nepal’s Human Rights Commission has a long history of having its recommendations virtually ignored by the government of the day. In fact, since 2000, only 12% of the NHRC’s 810 recommendations have been fully implemented. So when I compared the situation in Nepal to the tribunal’s decision and aftermath in Canada, my first question was ‘how’? How could the human rights situation in the two countries be so different that one government was compelled to pay out $40 billion for discrimination while another could virtually ignore recommendations?

    First, I have to confess that my understanding of the human rights framework in Canada and Nepal was lacking. As today’s guest, Professor Anne Levesque from the University of Ottawa, explains, Canada, like Nepal, has a federal human rights commission (as well as commissions in its provinces). But Canada also has the tribunal, a quasi-judicial body that hears complaints and can issue orders. Nepal however, lacks a human rights body that has legal teeth.

    But is that the whole story, or are there other reasons why the Government of Canada must – and does – pay up when it loses a human rights case while the Government of Nepal basically files away the NHRC’s recommendations for some later date? Nepal, by the way, is not a human rights pariah. It is serving its second consecutive term on the UN Human Rights Council and the NHRC has been given an ‘A’ rating by an independent organization for conforming to international standards.

    Resources
    As a lawyer who’s helped fight for the rights of First Nations children, here’s what you need to know about the $40 billion child welfare agreements – article by Anne Levesque

    Ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

    Public advocacy for the First Nations Child Welfare complaint

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    • 36 min
    Indigenous peoples must continue to challenge human rights violations

    Indigenous peoples must continue to challenge human rights violations

    Welcome to Strive podcast, a production of IPS News. My name is Marty Logan. 
    Today we are starting a new series focused on human rights. For people working to create a more sustainable and just world – as we are – a human rights based approach makes sense as it starts from the premise that only by recognizing and protecting the dignity inherent in all people can we attain those goals. 
    Today’s guest, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has immense experience in human rights. She is the founder and executive director of Tebtebba Foundation, which works to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples in the Philippines, her home country, and beyond. She was the Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples from 2005 To 2010, and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2014 to 2020. 
    We cover a lot of ground in this episode — from Vicky’s analysis of her time as special rapporteur to recent rhetoric around ‘building back better’, the circular economy and other touted economic reforms, versus the reality on the ground. Indigenous communities are facing growing pressure from both states and the private sector to extract the natural resources that they are trying to protect. This dichotomy between the words and deeds of these powerful actors must be continually exposed and challenged by Indigenous peoples, says Vicky. 
    Asked whether governments of poorer countries are doing enough to protect human rights, without hesitating Vicky answers no. But she also points out that these countries are themselves pressured by international agreements, brokered largely by rich countries, that leave them with few options but to exploit natural resources. 
    She also tells me about an exciting project — the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a body of 23 global experts, is creating a General Recommendation on Indigenous women and girls. Among other things, it recognize the individual and collective rights of Indigenous women, the latter including respect for their rights to land, languages and other culture. Vicki says it is the first time that a UN treaty body is developing a recommendation focussed on Indigenous women.

    Resources
    Tebtebba Foundation

    UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples

    UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigneous Peoples

    Strive on social media

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    • 28 min
    More students on the move in an increasingly complex world

    More students on the move in an increasingly complex world

    This is our third episode on the ongoing movements of people around the world. You can listen to the previous ones, the first about climate migrants and the second on remittances, on any podcast app. 
    If you’re like me you were surprised to learn about the international students trapped in Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February. In fact, the country had more than 75,000 students from abroad in 2020 according to the Ukraine government.
    That figure highlights how student movement globally has changed in recent decades, with many scholars, particularly from the global South, bypassing traditional destinations like the US and UK for lesser known and cheaper centres. But one consistent trend is growth: in 2000 the number of international students globally was estimated at 2 million and by 2019 it had tripled to 6 million. 
    Our guest today, Rajika Bhandari, understands intimately the movements of international students. She was one herself in the 1990s, travelling from India to the US, where she eventually settled and began a career examining how students travel to learn in foreign countries.

    Author of the recently published book America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility, Rajika tells me how certain aspects of the international student experience have remained the same, including financial challenges and adaptation issues. Meanwhile other issues have emerged, like the global rise in nationalism and the growth in academic refugees — young people who flee crises in countries like Ukraine and Afghanistan but are not treated like ‘official’ students in their receiving countries. 
    Rajika also puts a unique spin on a decades-old topic — explaining how the ‘brain drain’ that steals the young minds that represent the potential of poorer countries is morphing into ‘brain circulation.’ This post-modern movement can have multiple destinations, including students’ home countries, but those nations must be aware and engaged in attracting talent to come home. 
    Resources
    Rajika Bhandari’s website. Check out the collection of articles on various aspects of international students.
    Rajika Bhandari’s book — American Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility

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    • 32 min
    Migrant workers’ remittances fund development—make it easier for them

    Migrant workers’ remittances fund development—make it easier for them

    I hope you had a chance to listen to our last episode, Environmental disasters creating more migrants within countries. We talked about the rising number of people who are forced out of their homes because of climate or environmental disasters. Nearly 30 million men, women and children in 149 countries were displaced in 2020, temporarily or for good and the signs are, that those numbers will only grow.

    Today we’re continuing our series of conversations about people on the move globally, talking about remittances and the migrant workers worldwide who send these earnings home to their families—$200 each month on average according to today’s guest, Pedro de Vasconcelos. He is the Senior Technical Specialist/ Coordinator at the Financing Facility for Remittances of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD.

    The size of global remittances is astounding—$554 billion US dollars in 2019. More surprising to me is that this sum is greater than combining all of the foreign direct investment (FDI) and overseas development assistance (ODA) sent to the countries of the developing world. In effect, the workers of the world’s poorest countries are doing more to lift themselves out of poverty than anyone else, but that’s not something you often hear in development discussions.

    Of course we couldn’t have this conversation without noting the impact of Covid-19 on remittances and migrant workers. Here in Nepal there were horrifying stories in the media of groups of workers, many in Persian Gulf countries, who were forced out of work during lockdowns, eventually ran out of money, then food, and had to rely on the kindness of friends and even strangers, until they could raise enough cash to buy an air ticket home—when flights were available—or just wait out lockdowns.

    Pedro predicts that Covid-19’s impact on remittances will be a wake-up call to the public and private sectors about the crucial role that the earnings generated by the world’s migrant workers play in keeping economies afloat. If those involved can sync their efforts to ensure that the money can be sent home as efficiently as possible and that workers are given more and better options to use their earnings, it is possible to imagine a day when migration for work will be a choice and not a necessity.

    Please listen now to my conversation with Pedro de Vasconcelos.

    Thanks again to Pedro de Vasconcelos of IFAD for sharing his time with me, especially for agreeing to a second interview within days, and when he was travelling, after online connection problems during our first chat. If you have any thoughts about this episode, you can share them with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn—our handle is IPSNews. We’d also love to hear your ideas for future episodes about People on the Move around the world. Don’t forget—you can follow or subscribe to Strive on Spotify, Google, Apple Podcasts and most other podcast players.

    My name is Marty Logan, you can email me at mlogan(at)ipsnews.net. Strive will be back soon and is a production of IPS News.

    Resources
    Financing Facility for Remittances, IFAD

    Nepali Migrant Workers stuck overseas — article in Nepali Times newspaper

    Strive on social media

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    • 36 min

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