On the 12th of November 2015, CUAI hosted a panel discussion, “Problematic Politics”, in collaboration with Clare Politics and the Centre for Governance and Human Rights. The aim of the event was to discuss whether the work of Amnesty International ultimately does more harm than good and address whether organisations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations, and human rights theory in general, inherently imperialistic because of the nature of their inception?
Dr Sharath Srinivasan directs the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR), and conducts research on the politics and ethics of external intervention in civil conflicts and the role of new information and communication technologies in political change.
Lucy Wake is the Government and Political Relations Manager for Amnesty International, whose role involves lobbying the UK government and Parliament on human rights issues, home and abroad. Lucy has also previously been a Board Member of the organisation, End Violence Against Women.
Professor Stephen Hopgood is the co-Director of the Centre for the International Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice (CCRJ) at SOAS and author of the ethnography, ‘Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International’.
Dr Arathi Sriprakash is a sociologist of education, globalisation, and international development at Cambridge, whose work includes global policy sociology, feminist postcolonial theory and the politics of knowledge in international development.
Srishti Krishnamoorthy is a PhD student in English at Newnham and high-class debater, whose research interests include gender and sexuality and Postcolonialism.
For a copy of the notes taken during the event please click here (disclaimer: these notes are very rough and do include some holes!)
We were overjoyed by the turnout and were so grateful to all of our speakers for agreeing to attend what turned out to be a great event.
The consensus seemed to be that the work of Amnesty International, though not perfect, is still important. However, through this event we hoped to encourage critical thought and constant reflection on our practices as human rights activists, which is the only way to make sure sustainable progress is achieved; this is something we will aim to continue beyond this discussion and into the future.