The 2017 Sheehy Skeffington School on Social Justice and Human Rights was held in the Carmelite Centre on October 7th.
“Is the human rights era coming to an end – whither refugees and migrants?” Leading human rights Professor Conor Gearty of the London School of Economics poses that significant question in these troubled times for human rights in his opening address to the 2017 Sheehy Skeffington Human Rights School.
The school was founded to provide an accessible forum for discussion on issues of human rights and social justice and the focus of this year’s school is on human rights and migrants.
Professor Siobhan Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, will address the position of migrants “beyond the limits of law” , Edel McGinley, Migrant Rights Centre director will explore collective approaches to migrant rights, while Bernadette McAliskey, civil rights activist and cofounder of the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme will provide timely reminders that “universal human rights begin in small places close to home”.
Sorley McCaughey of Christian Aid will explore the connections between migration, violent conflict and climate change and migrant voices will include Lucky Khambule of the Movement for Asylum Seekers in Ireland who will examine how to move forward, including developing alternatives to the denigrated direct provision system.
The school is proud of its arts and historical content and is particularly delighted this year to feature footage of Micheline Sheehy Skeffington arriving at Ellis Island to mark the centenary of her grandmother Hanna’s tour of major US cities in 1917 seeking international support for a public inquiry into the British Army’s murder in 1916 of her pacifist husband Frank and also promoting the rights of women and workers. A key focus of Micheline’s own tour of US cities visited by Hanna involves promoting gender equality issues.
Playwrights Mirjana Rendulic and Donal O’Kelly will address themes of migration and displacement in extracts from their respective plays. Mirjana will perform from her play Broken Promise Land and Donal will perform from his new play 67 Words, marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, to be premiered next month.
This year’s school occurs amidst the greatest displacement of peoples worldwide since the second world war, creating huge insecurity, uncertainty and division among the peoples and governments of Europe. Some favour a generous humanitarian response and firm adherence to Europe’s human rights tradition but others advocate intensified border security and increasingly nationalist and xenophobic responses. There is a pressing need for cooperation and inclusive dialogue on how best to address the challenges and opportunities presented by migration and we hope you will join the discussion.