- The human rights movement needs to get back to its roots as a movement that is initiated and driven by the grass-roots, and not by an international elite group that defines what they should be doing, said Dr. Louis Bickford yesterday at a seminar on «The International Human Rights Movement: Past, Present, Future» at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights at the Law Faculty of the University of Oslo.
Louis Bickford who is visiting Oslo this week, spoke to some 30 students and professors in attendance, as well as KKN Chairman Jan-Aage Torp.
Bickford is currently the Founder and CEO of MEMRIA, a social enterprise which develops partnerships with organizations to collect, analyze, and circulate narrative accounts of past violence with the aim of strengthening human rights. Bickford is also professor at Columbia University and New York University, where he teaches regular graduate seminars on the human rights movement. From 2012-2017, Bickford managed the global human rights program at the Ford Foundation. Prior to that he was at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), where he was a founding staff member (2001) and a member of the Senior Management team (through 2010). He has a PhD from McGill University and an MA from the New School, both in Political Science.
Bickford contributed perspectives and reflections from his vast experience on what are some of the contemporary challenges confronting the human rights movement'? And: How might new tools and new strategies be developed to provide better support to human rights defenders on the ground?
In the lively discussion following Bickford´s introduction, Jan-Aage Torp maintained that it is not only the international human rights movement that is imposing its agenda on the people, but even on the national scale in Norway. He criticized the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights for ignoring the growing movement in Norway and Europe of families that are seeing gross breeches of their rights as a family, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.Dr Bickford speaking yesterday, Dr Jones listening.
- The Law Faculty is virtually silent! he claimed.
Torp called attention to the increased focus at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on the violation of family rights in Norway, and to the massive demonstrations of the people in nation after nation in Europe, and beyond.
Dr Bickford affirmed Torp´s criticism, and said that breeches against family rights are among the most fundamental human rights, and should be addressed. Dr Peris Jones, professor at the Law Faculty, as well as Dr.Knut D. Asplund, Programme Director at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, also affirmed the seriousness of Jan-Aage´s criticism.