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The Future of Human Rights in the International Arena

As  everyone studying on the SCID programme is aware, every Unit in every Module has an e-tivity, which is generally participation in a discussion board thread. Florence Kayemba Ibokabasi and Iain Blackwood have kindly agreed to one of their excellent posts being uploaded to the SCID Blog. These recent posts were in response to a question about the future of human rights in the international arena. I thought such good posts should receive wider attention. I hope uploading them here encourages other students to also upload their discussion board posts on the SCID Blog. I hope it also generates further and wider discussion of some of the issues that are being addressed in the SCID programme. Thank you very much, Florence and Iain!

Florence Kayemba Ibokabasi:

Human rights agenda appears to have gained traction globally particularly in the South where developing countries are grappling with development and security challenges, leaving governments operating on shoe string budgets which require external assistance based on conditions such as rights based approaches to development programming and policy formulation. This is evident in how the Millineum Development Goals (MDGs), now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose foundation is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have been largely endorsed globally, with various countries setting up Secretariats and incorporating these goals in their requests for for multilateral or bilateral assistance.

It is important to note that embracing of the human rights agenda might be driven by political interests by the donor and state recipient even when that aid is tied to conditions which may be in violation of the country’s traditions and religious beliefs for example the inclusion of women in security forces in Afghanistan, the suspension of anti-gay laws in Malawi, an ultra conservative and religious country whose anti gay legislation sought to criminalise homosexuality.

It might be worthy to note, that there is an increased awareness of human rights globally even in countries where civil liberties were curtailed for decades such as Libya. This is probably responsible for the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Burkina Faso where regimes were overthrown due to gross human rights violations that infringed on the right to free speech, the right to life and generally socio-economic rights that affect the well being of the populace. It is evident that the increased awareness of human rights by the new generation of youth has made it harder for governments to carry out human rights violations without resistance from the populace eventually.

The emergence of technology such as social media and i mobile communications  has helped amplify and mobilise the voices of those affected by human rights violations perpetuated by the state.This is quite different from what it used to be more than a decade ago when there were far less platforms to use to hold governments accountable. Traditional media was censored and mobilising citizens for mass action was quite an uphill task particularly in African countries where police and army were being used to silence the voices of those who were oppressed.

Countries, particularly in the South need to uphold the inalienable rights of their citizens as part of a state culture and not necessarily to please the donors. Regional bodies such as the African Union need to hold members to account for human rights violations and support in particular post conflict nations to build institutions and a national culture that respects the rights of citizens. Using external assistance to build such a culture is not sustainable; if our governments could understand that respecting the rights of the citizens helps improve security and enhances development, perhaps they would work harder at ensuring that civil liberties are respected and the socio-economic rights are upheld irrespective of gender, age and race.

iainIain Blackwood:

In response to ‘what you envisage is developing in respect of the place of human rights in the international arena and, which may be quite different, what you would like to see emerging’.  I do not see that there will ever be an International global system, nation states do intervene in and assist failed states in other nations conflicts in times of crisis, if the outcome is beneficial to themselves and their self-interests.  The world will never be a utopia with an International system that controls a Global society (is that not what the UN was set up to achieve some 60+ years ago to preserve world peace).  There will always be wars (which have changed in the way they are now fought, won and lost) and some sort of conflict somewhere in the world, be it for religious reasons, National uprisings, disputes for natural resources in times of hardship and because one country or party has what the other wants, to put it in simplistic terms.

I do agree that nations should remain crucial players and that there is also a North-South divide together with a cultural divide and the North can and does assist the South, but the South also needs to assist itself e.g. corruption, Human Rights and its violations, providing for and protecting its own citizens.  Furthermore, how can the West impose its beliefs on nations that do not want them, but those nations want aid and assistance on their own terms, but lack the know how or resources to do so.  Cultural understanding by the West needs to be better understood when assisting nations.

As has been already mentioned the UDHR is a Global declaration signed by states to protect individuals rights, but is violated on a daily basis by nations to suit their needs and not the needs of their citizens.  If the UDHR is to succeed should not more emphasis be made towards reaching those original aims, but be realigned and to meet todays modern-day needs and meet current world developments?

Also the use modern communications highlight the needs and requirements of victims and gets worldwide views and condemnation for the images that are viewed but (one only needs to search the web for such images and HU violations that occur of a daily basis), again countries will only intervene if it suits their needs and wants or has an adverse effect on themselves.  Syria is a typical example of who is and who isn’t supporting the fight against ISIL/Daesh.  Which is now a worldwide threat.

To conclude Human rights are a necessity and include all articles as laid out in the UDHR to cover the whole of society, but individuals and states need to be held accountable for abuses (Truth Commissions and Transitional justice, ICC under the Rome statute) and enhance their own development of the UDHR.  Which ultimately would improve security and development and potentially lead to enhanced peace and security.

Building Security and Justice After Conflict – Student Position Papers

At the end of the SCID Course, students are asked to reflect upon the whole Course and write a position paper (of about 750 words). The paper should be on an issue related to building security and justice in post-conflict environments that they feel most passionate about which requires attention by, at least an element of, the international community. The postscript to the paper summarises reasons why effective action has not been taken to date. Students are asked to draw on their own experience and knowledge as well as academic material, with the aim of persuading the reader to agree with the position put forward and, if necessary, to act, while displaying academic writing and analytical skills.

Those papers that secured a Merit or Distinction (i.e. above 60%) are reproduced on this Blog (below and on a new page entitled Building Security and Justice after Conflict – Student Position Papers). Congratulations to all students who did so well and to everyone in the September 2014 intake for completing the whole course – and all the very best with your dissertations.

Best wishes, Eleanor

PhD Funding Opportunities

phd fundingSome of you may be considering studying for a PhD after your Master’s. If so, our College is currently advertising a funding opportunity for Phd scholarships for international students. The full information is here:

The key things to note are:

  • This is for international students only – i.e. non Home/EU.
  • It is for campus based study ONLY (not the PhD by DL).
  • It is a partial scholarship – £5,000 discount on fees over 3 years.

Similar opportunities may arise in the future if you are not due to complete your Master’s this year. Also, the Department generally offers annual funding opportunities for PhD students – it is worthwhile checking our website around Easter (or just before) each year.

If you are hoping to pursue a PhD at some point in the future with us or elsewhere, I’d also encourage you to monitor the websites of the main funders (ESCR, British Academy, AHRC etc.) – details on our website – It might also be worth scoping funding opportunities through companies that might benefit from your research, through philanthropic organisations, or – depending on your nationality – through the EC (Erasmus) or Commonwealth –, and

Best wishes, Eleanor

Places in Conflict & at Peace

Thanks Maren, for sharing this excellent resource (re-blogged below – I’m re-blogging rather than commenting so I can add a few images to give example to my otherwise broad-brushed, unsubstantiated statements below!). I think this resource is an invaluable tool for reflecting upon the way in which we analyse armed conflict as well as the assumptions many of us (as researchers, policy makers and practitioners) have when it comes to armed conflict (being elsewhere, in places labelled fragile, at risk or developing). As you say, it also provides a useful analytical tool for analysing the links between armed violence, organised crime and street gang insurgencies, as well as the impact of globalisation and socio-economic inequalities on conflict and security.

Last week I returned from a trip to the US (Atlanta) and Colombia (Bogota and Medellin). I had only been to the US a few times fleetingly and never visited Colombia before now. The specific places I visited are unique and also not representative of the wider respective countries. However, what particularly struck me was that both demonstrated evidence of massive socio-economic inequalities, high levels of poverty, and anger among some groups towards their respective governments. I was most shocked (though unsurprised) at the extent and nature of the human rights violations and violence against civilians in Colombia, high levels of corruption and collusion between ostensibly opposing groups (government, paramilitary, guerrilla), and the disregard among many of the privileged for the suffering of the marginalised and impoverished (to the extent that you could hardly imagine a conflict was going on in some parts of Bogota).

IMG_4929However, I was more shocked at the tension and aggression which seemed to seep into the corners of everyday life in Atlanta. Here massive billboards portrayed the good life (buy a coke and your life will be meaningful) while people slept on the streets below; there was an onslaught of noise and people who demanded you say how wonderful your day was (OK so I’m a grumpy Brit!); Trump and his vitriol was blaring out from TVs which were everywhere (OK the hotel I was staying in happened to be in the same building as CNN!); people told me how fed up they were with politics and foreigners and women not sticking by their unfaithful men; signs told me I’d have to leave my gun at home if I wanted to get on a plane (which to me is strange in a country not at war, at least on its own soil); and the overwhelming majority of the thousands of participants at the Convention I was attending were white, which smacked of neo-colonialism given the theme was peace, while the majority of people working in the hotels and sleeping on the streets were black. Perhaps I simply didn’t get enough sleep, but I kept seeing messages  about about pride and equity, which took on a disturbingly ironic tone in this context (for contrast the third image is from the National Centre for Civil and Human Rights which was outstanding, moving and highly informative – located in the centre of the business district next to the Coca Cola Museum, which appeared to be significantly more popular among tourists – no comment!).

I left the US and Colombia reflecting a bit deeper on our assumptions about places in conflict and places at so-called peace; assumptions about the way in which violence permeates most if not all societies and disproportionately affects the marginalised; and assumptions about the engagement of governments in so-called peaceful states in the dynamics of exclusion, violence and indeed conflict.

So, in short, I think we have a lot to learn about conflict by looking at the machinations of societies where there is peace. Conversely, we also have a lot to learn about peace by looking at the efforts many civilians make to protect themselves and their families, promote peace, and create peaceful communities, in places at war (which I hope to write about soon).

Best wishes, Eleanor

Original post by Maren Moon:

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

Dr Punam Yadav -White Sari—Transforming Widowhood in Nepal

Dr Punam Yadav, who delivered the most recent Online Guest Lecture Impacts of Armed Conflict on Women: Lived Experiences of Women in Nepal (which you can still comment on or ask questions of Punam) has recently had an article published in Gender Technology & Development. This article is entitled ‘White Sari – Transforming Widowhood in Nepal‘ (click on the link to open the attachment or you can find online here).

punam articleAbstract: Before the People’s War (1996) in Nepal, widows were not allowed to wear anything other than the white sari, especially in Hindu families. It was a common practice even among highly educated women. Widows were considered impure and carriers of bad luck as a result of which they were excluded from public events, such as weddings and religious ceremonies. This belief system was deeply entrenched in the history of the country spanning thousands of years. However, when hundreds of women became widows during the People’s War in Nepal, they started organizing themselves and resisting the discriminatory practice of the white sari. This article explores how widows of Nepal subverted thousands of years of this oppressive practice. It also examines the challenges that they faced in the era of the white sari and the citizenship benefits that they have achieved after liberating themselves from the shroud of widowhood.



SCID LinkedIn Page

Hi everyone. Further to my recent post about SCID Alumni, I have just created a LinkedIn group for SCID students, alumni, prospective students, staff and members of the Panel of Experts. Please join – it would be a good way to keep in touch on professional matters related to SCID and its area of interest, and link with similar groups and people.

You should be able to find the LinkedIn page if you click here or search for ‘SCID (University of Leicester)’.

Best wishes, Eleanor


America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security