India’s leading human rights NGOs attended the two-day WISERD- Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi joint civil society Research Workshop held in New Delhi on August 17-18. It was held as part of the project ‘Exploring Effective Practice in Civil Society Organisations: Promotion of Human Rights, Good Governance and Social Justice in India and Bangladesh’ project – funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences, Global Challenges Research Fund. The research is led by Professor Paul Chaney (WISERD) and Professor Sarbeswar Sahoo (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) (pictured below, left and centre - with IIT Social Sciences and Humanities Head of School Professor Purnima Singh – right, who gave the opening address).
Professors Chaney and Sahoo said, “In the year of the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Convention on Human Rights, and with religious freedom and gender equality being key to realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals, our project focuses on the key challenges facing civil society in an era of ongoing, deep-set patterns and processes of gender oppression and religious conflict around the world”.
They continued, “our attention will centre on civil society organisations’ views of the key issues, areas of progress and ongoing challenges in relation to human rights advocacy and service delivery for women, girls and different religious communities … our aim is to learn from practitioners and advocates – the people who really have lived experience of these issues – we will share our project findings in order to further academic and practical knowledge and - promote peace, tolerance and dignity ’.
The workshop discussions identified a series of challenges faced by NGOs working on these issues. Yet, it also pin-pointed several aspects that were positive – suggesting the way towards inclusive citizenship rights and sustainable development – not only in India and Bangladesh – but further afield.
This project will also generate an academic research network to further understanding of international citizenship rights and disseminate project findings in the form of non-technical policy briefings and blogs. Amongst the project’s forthcoming publications is a paper in the leading International Journal of Human Rights (Routledge, T & F). In a constructive, yet critical way, the paper explores the notion of citizenship rights in India today. In conceptual terms, its wider international significance lies in providing new empirical analysis of the challenges of seeking to apply UN rights agreements in a manner that respects religious particularism and the traditions of different social groups.