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Speaker(s): Professor Philip Alston
Chair: Professor Chetan Bhatt

Recorded on 1 December 2016 at Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

The human rights movement is reeling and the worst is yet to come. Populists have come to power in key countries promoting an agenda which is avowedly nationalistic, xenophobic and retrograde. The space for civil society has been closed down in many countries. The International Criminal Court is under concerted attack as states withdraw and 'unsign'. Regional and UN institutions are under increasing pressure. This lecture suggests what can be done in response to this onslaught of negative developments. 'Business as usual' is not one of the options. Intensive self-reflection, innovative thinking and creative strategizing will be required.

This lecture marks International Human Rights day, which on the 10th December each year commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Philip Alston is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. His teaching focuses primarily on international law, human rights law, and international criminal law. He co-chairs the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

He has previously been Professor of Law and Foundation Director of the Center for International and Public Law at the Australian National University and Professor of International Law at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence where he was also Head of Department and Co-Director of the Academy of European Law.

Alston was appointed in 2014 as the UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. He was previously UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions from 2004 to 2010 and undertook fact-finding missions to: Sri Lanka, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, Albania, Kenya, Brazil, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, the United States, Albania, and Ecuador. He was a member of the Group of Experts on Darfur appointed in 2007 by the UN Human Rights Council, and was special adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals. He chaired the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights for eight years until 1998, and at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights he was elected to chair the first meeting of the Presidents and Chairs of all of the international human rights courts and committees (including the European and American Human Rights Courts and the African Commission). He was UNICEF's legal adviser throughout the period of the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and directed a major project funded by the European Commission, which resulted in the publication of a Human Rights Agenda for the European Union for the Year 2000 and a volume of essays on that theme. In 2010-11 he was a member of the Independent International Commission investigating human rights violations in Kyrgzstan.

Chetan Bhatt is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights.

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