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Reading List: Human Rights and a Fact Based World View

What’s this? Our reading lists are collections of essential readings recommended by our expert speakers and our amazing team. A beginners guide to the topic, if you will, and a perfect taster before our cause area events.

Exploring social problems can be frustrating. (And how confusing to encounter frustration when dealing with philanthropy - haven’t we been taught it should be all warm, fuzzy feelings?)

There is a lot of information out there, and often, the closer you look at a topic, the more complex you discover it is. So where do you start?

This month we are looking at tools and approaches for understanding the world, and how they inform Human Rights protection:

1. Everything you know is wrong

Hans Rosling’s geniusly simple ways of debunking massive misconceptions about the world, caused by false media representation and confirmation bias, has become a bit of a staple in international development discourse.

2. Patrick’s pick: For anyone who ever thought statistics were boring (and those who love it)


Patrick Ball, The Founder of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group - a.k.a statistician magician - a.k.a human rights investigation superstar, kind of blows our mind explaining the risks and potentials of data collection and analysis.

A statement on the importance of data that isn’t merely true, but representative.

3. Ben's pick: What’s confirmation bias?


Here is a 3 minute read on all sorts of cognitive biases, which will perhaps make you slightly more vary of your strongest convictions.

4. Regan’s pick: Human Rights violations are changing, and our donations should too


Regan Ralph, the CEO of Fund for Global Human Rights, recommended us this article.

"Is the protection model of relying heavily on international groups and service providers insufficient and unsustainable, given the scale and severity of attacks on defenders? Should protection start closer to home?"

Support from international human rights communities and donors is often focused on remote work and foreign-led emergency relief, failing to protect localised community responses to human rights abuses.

5. Dr. Srinivasan's pick: Are human rights 'real'?

What does the term 'Human Rights' actually mean, and who decides?

Dr. Srinivasan argues Human Rights are mainly 'an evolving lanuguage of our time'. A language through which we understand the complex political relationships and power dynamics of our world, that enables us to contest, resist or support them.'

6. What do we do now?

Human Rights abuses in 2016

The rise of demagogues in the US and Europe brings with it a bunch of implications for Human Rights defence throughout the world. Human Rights Watch's world report for 2017 gives a good overview.

"The antidote is for voters to demand a politics based on truth and the values on which rights-respecting democracy is built."

About the contributors:

  • Ben Clifford is the Growth Director at Founders Pledge

  • Patrick Ball is the Founder of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

  • Regan Ralph is the president & CEO of the Fund for Global Human Rights.

  • Dr. Sharath Srinivasan is the Director of the Centre of Governance & Human Rights, and co-founder of the Africa’s Voices Foundation.

Originally published on 3 February 2017

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