Tuesday, October 29, 2013

School of Human Rights Research and Shandong University join forces in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

On the 15th and 16th of October 2013, The School of Human Rights Research joined forces with Shandong University to host a seminar which addressed various ways of combatting HIV/AIDS. The seminar which was held at Shandong University, in Jinan, China titled “ Relying on culture to protect human rights: the combat against HIV/AIDS and the stigma associated with it,” saw speakers from China, Africa and The Netherlands, discuss issues dealing with HIV/AIDS in China and Africa and issues surrounding the disease. High level speakers included, the likes of Professor Geert-Jan Knoops, of Shandong University, Professor Laurence Juma from Rhodes University, South Africa, Professor Ben Twinomugisha from Makerere University, Uganda, Dr. Serges Kamga, from the Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute in South Africa, and Professor Yanping Qi, Dean of Shandong University Law School. Researchers from the School of Human Rights Research and The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights included Michael Odhiambo, Julie Fraser, Stacey Links, Qiao Congrui, Penny Peng and Ingrid Morgan.

Professor G.J. Knoops
Dr. Serges Kamga (middle) Mimi Zou(left)
Prof. Ben Twinomugisha(far Right)
Prof. Zwart and Prof. Man
Campaigns to combat HIV/AIDS and to remove the stigma that patients often face in certain regions of China and Africa have not always been effective and besides this, there have been stigmas attached to the person suffering from the HIV or AIDS virus. These stigmas emanate from a myriad of factors. The seminar was unique in that it focused on the positives of local culture, which could be used to combat the disease. Discussions also focused on cultural sensitive ways to protect human rights more generally and more broadly with the interplay between culture and human rights protection.

The seminar formed part of the Receptor Approach to Human Rights Project sponsored as a pilot for a period of four years, by the Dutch Foreign Office. The receptor approach is in short, an approach, which assumes that culture and the existing social institutions of Eastern and Southern countries can meet human rights standards by relying on socio-cultural arrangements already in place. If these arrangements fall short, they may be enhanced or amplified. In other words, elements may be added to strengthen these institutions, so as to meet their human rights obligations. This however, does not mean that states have the freedom to depart from their human rights obligations. They are still held accountable to the treaties they sign except that they may enforce their obligations more broadly, in accordance with their own culture, if fitting human rights standards.

In the weeks ahead, this blog will feature a number of guest posts, not only from researchers engaged in the Receptor Approach Research Project but those who are also interested in the interplay between culture and human rights and who gave a presentation at Shandong University. 

Posted by Ingrid Roestenburg-Morgan


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