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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Scene in Uganda: Human Rights

Our second full day in Kampala started on time at 7:45 A.M. Ugandan time, so approximately 8:00 A.M. by American standards with breakfast at MUBS. After breakfast, we headed up one of the seven hills of Kampala to the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).  Located in a wealthier portion of Kampala, we finally arrived in at FHRI. Upon arrive, I found that the atmosphere was the perfect recipe for a nap. The chairs were comfy. The room was warm, and we had time because we were waiting for Dr. Sewanyana, the executive director of FHRI.  However, as wonderful as a nap seemed at the time, Josephine, the research director of FHRI, arrived and quickly captivated our attention by discussing the state of human rights in Uganda, the projects that FHRI undertakes and the challenges faced by human rights organizations. The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative focuses on advancing civil and political rights in Uganda. Each year FHRI researches and publishes two reports on two human rights initiatives in Uganda. These topics range from the right to a fair trial to children's rights. This past year's initiatives were right to a fair trial and labor rights.  The current research topics are eradication of extreme poverty (in line with the United Nation's  Millennium Development Goals) and the right of fair elections. During her talk, she discussed a wide array of topics including government corruption, police torture and right to food and answered our nonstop questions over an hour. Dr. Sewanyana arrived added to the information that Josephine provided us.  One of the most important things that I took away from the meeting with Josephine was the importance of continuous dialogue and advocacy for each topic. For me, this persistence shown by FHRI is something that everyone can learn from. True grit and persistence is key to any accomplishment.

Students: During Josephine's presentation, she said "if you want development, it comes at a cost." In your opinion what has been the cost of the advancement of human rights in Uganda? In your opinion how to human rights in Uganda compare to human rights violations in the United States? What is one thing that surprised you from the discussion?

1 comment:

  1. The advancement of Human Rights represents an umbrella movement that seeks to protect individuals and minorities and provide an area for individual expression. Kelsey raises a good point, one that was brought up during the presentation at many points viz. "if you want development, it comes at a cost." This statement rings true in more ways then one: in one sense, the development of a country is brought about on the shoulders of the poor and oppressed, we often see this is capitalist societies such as the U.S. where the vast majority of capital is held in the hands of a few while 90% of the population constitute the remainder of this capital. In another sense we could be talking about development in terms of social rights and equality. However, if we were to focus solely upon the advancement of these social rights, very likely the economy and the environment would suffer as a result. That is why I felt Josephine's lecture linked up well with the core theme of our class, sustainability, because as we have learned, attaining sustainability in all three categories: social, economic, and environmental, is no easy task and a balance must be the end goal of any effort to promote sustainability because otherwise we favor one aspect too heavily that leads to the detriment of the other aspects.