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Putting Rights Back Together Again


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Speaker(s): Salil Shetty

Recorded on 6 December 2012 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

The indivisibility of human rights is proclaimed as a goal, but the reality is different. Separating civil and political from economic, social and cultural rights could result in losing the battle for both.

Salil Shetty joined Amnesty International as the organisation’s eighth Secretary General in July 2010.

A long-term activist on poverty and justice, Salil Shetty leads the movement's worldwide work to end the abuse of human rights. He is the organisation’s chief political adviser, strategist and spokesperson and takes Amnesty International’s campaigns to the highest level of government, the United Nations and business.

Since joining Amnesty International, Salil Shetty has been vocal in supporting the people’s uprising for human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. In December 2010, he led Amnesty International's show of solidarity in Oslo for the imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo calling on the Chinese authorities to improve their human rights record. In September 2010, he represented Amnesty International at the United Nations General Assembly.

Salil Shetty has ambitious plans to strengthen Amnesty International's work in the Global South. He has travelled extensively for Amnesty International since joining the organisation, meeting many grassroots activists.

Salil Shetty first became involved in campaigning for human rights when growing up in Bangalore, India. With his mother active in women’s groups and his father with the Dalit movement, his home became a hub for local and national activists. Since his student days, when a state of emergency was declared in 1976, and as the President of his college student’s union, Salil Shetty has been actively campaigning against the curtailment of human rights.

Prior to joining Amnesty International, Salil Shetty was Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign from 2003 to 2010. He played a pivotal role in building the global advocacy campaign for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals - eight goals to fight poverty, illiteracy and disease. Under his stewardship, the Millennium Campaign succeeded in making donor and developing country governments more accountable for meeting their commitments to the Goals.

As Chief Executive of ActionAid (from 1998 to 2003, before joining the UN), Salil Shetty is credited with transforming ActionAid into one of the world’s foremost international development NGOs.

An Indian national, Salil Shetty earned a distinction in a Masters of Science in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has a Masters in Business Administration from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

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