top of page

Welcome from Dr Supriya Akerkar, Director, Centre of Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP).

 A warm welcome to the 20 th annual Oxford Human Rights Festival! This year’s theme is ‘Movement’ which aptly captures the experiences of millions of people around the world, affected by climate change, conflict, wars and disasters. People are on a move as they are displaced from resources and places. Listening to their stories, extending solidarity with their struggles, we claim our shared humanity and futures. The festival is a platform to highlight human rights violations and injustices, reflect on them collectively and represent them in myriad ways through films, theatre, art, exhibitions, panel discussions, seminars and walks/march on the theme.

​Conversations are organised in the Oxford Brookes University (OBU) campus as well as in Oxford city and its suburbs inviting participation of activists, artists, communities and public. The festival is student led, organised by the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at the School of Architecture, OBU. Students and staff from CENDEP collaborate with students and staff across the university in Architecture, Social Science, Film, Fine Arts, OxArch, Design for Common Good, and Marketing with coordination from CENDEP’s El Laskar. Special thanks are due to our collaborators:  Migration and Refugee Research Network, Tap Social, Common Ground, Oxfordshire County Library, RIBA, Cranfield University and Wolfson College. I look forward to your joining in the festival activities and this celebration of the human spirit.  



'This Is Who I Am'

A rehearsed reading of first-hand accounts from LGBT+ people seeking asylum in the UK about their experiences fleeing their own country and on arrival in the UK. Read by Actors For Human Rights Network. The reading will be accompanied by workshop on mapping the asylum process.

This event is in collaboration with the Migration and Refugees Research Network .

'Rethinking the border in times of crisis'

Amid the various crises and uncertainties of today, our politics today seems in hock to a 'borderline disorder'. Professor Ruben Andersson delivers a challenging talk. "The border must be rethought, its pathological disorders overcome; and the best way to do so may be to examine how borders have long served as zones of exchange and as mechanisms of protection, rather than as razor-wire-clad monuments to sovereign folly".

This event has been organised  by Migration and Refugees Research Network.


The Vanarmare Tribe: Our Right To Roam

Based just outside the city of Ponda, Goa, this community of sixteen families are at a crossroads of a traditional nomadic existence and permanence. In October 2016, the tribe was attacked by neighbouring villagers. It was this outrage that resulted in the government recognising their existence. They received identity cards and birth certificates. Everyone’s birthday is the 1st of January.

This talk accompanies the exhibition at Common Ground, Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, UK. 


Ben Sharrock’s critically adored Limbo is a wry, funny and poignant cross-cultural satire that subtly sews together the hardship and hope of the refugee experience. Set on a fictional remote Scottish island, it follows a group of new arrivals as they await the results of their asylum claims.

About the director: Debuting director Ben Sharrock has a strong background in Arab history and suffering that informed his screenplay. He studied Arabic and politics for his undergraduate degree, lived in Damascus for the third year of his degree until the break-out of civil war in 2011 and worked in refugee camps in Algeria.


'A talk with Yasmeen Lari: Saving Humanity, Saving the Planet: Low Tech, Low Impact Architecture for the Other 99 percent'

Join RIBA International for a talk with Yasmeen Lari, the first woman to qualify as an architect in Pakistan, who is renowned for her work to empowering marginalised communities through architecture and building the world's largest zero carbon shelters programme.

The talk is held to celebrate the RIBA's Women in Architecture programme and the 20th Anniversary of the Oxford Human Rights Festival 2022 which Lari will launch as Oxford Brookes Alumna.

'Design for the Common Good online conversations'

Online discussions with public interest designers, community members, and leaders in the field to discuss the themes and projects featured in the Design for the Common Good Exhibition. Project presentations: Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform, Ghana; Chamanga Cultural Center, Ecuador; Restore Oakland, USA; Naidi Community Hall, Fiji; George Hawkins Memorial Center, USA.
Moderators: Leann Andrews (Pacific Rim Community Network) + Sandhya Naidu
Janardhan / Rohini Singh (Curry Stone Foundation). 

Design for the Common Good has launched a new digital platform to facilitate collaborations along with a database of public interest design projects.


'Queer In The Time of Forced Migration'

How do you rebuild a life when you know you can never go home?

Another Dream, a hybrid animated documentary and VR experience, brings the gripping, true love story of an Egyptian lesbian couple to life. Faced with a post-revolution backlash against the LGBTQ community, they escape Cairo to seek asylum and acceptance in the Netherlands. An accompanying installation allows audiences to reflect on what they have seen, heard, and felt in VR.

Another Dream is part of Queer in a Time of Forced Migration, an animated transmedia series that follows the stories of LGBTQ refugees from Egypt, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia across continents and cultures — from the 2011 Revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa region to the world today.

This experience is in two parts. First the virtual Reality experience and then a short film. The sessions are delivered with two people at a time so there are limited spaces available.

Part 1: 'Another Dream' VR Experience: 20 - 30 mins

Part 2: Film: Half a Life, a film, 15 mins

VR and Motion Sickness: The VR experience can bring on motion sickness. If you suffer from motion sickness please consider before you register for a space. 

This event is in collaboration with Migration and Refugees Research Network and has been planned and delivered by DEP Post Graduates Jackie Kearney and Kirra Mccollum.

Past Events 2022


'Rights-Based Development for Climate Migrants through Barefoot Social Architecture'

The annual Nabeel Hamdi Lecture launches the 20th Oxford Human Rights Festival. Special guest Yasmeen Lari, the first female architect in Pakista, Alunma of Oxford Brookes Universtiy and recipient of many national and international awards delivers a thought provoking lecture.

'Walk for Water'

The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is six kilometers along treacherous paths, carrying up to 20kgs on their head. Depending on the size of the family and the household’s needs, women may make this trip multiple times on the same day. James Leitner, founder of MissionCleanWater shares facts along this 5km walk.

There will be food and drinks available to buy at the venue at the end of the walk. If you want to stay on for the talk please register on the talk link.


'The Weight of Water'

Nearly a billion people worldwide don’t have access to clean water close to home, negatively impacting food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities. James Leitner, founder of MissionCleanWater delivers a talk around access to clean water and sanitation.

There will be food and drink available at the venue so come along earlier to have lunch with us.

"How forensic anthropologists help to identify the missing in human rights investigations"

​The analysis of human remains provides a lot of information about a person´s past, as well as the period in which they live in. This talk covers how forensic anthropologists analyse human skeletons to help identify the dead from mass disasters and mass grave scenarios in particular.

Talk by Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology at Cranfield University and is one of only a few practicing forensic anthropologists in the UK, having helped with the police in many forensic cases in England and Wales. 

This talk will include a tour of the exhibitions at Wolfson College.


Pop-up Art Exhibition & Poetry Performance

Women's Service Group from Refugee Resource in Oxford present their poems and artwork around the theme of movement and human rights.

This event is in collaboration with Refugee Resource Oxford.


Chosen by the Women's Service Group from Refugee Resource in Oxford. Paddington stows away on a ship bound for London from Peru. He arrives undetected and is homeless until the Brown family encounter him at Paddington Station and take him in. The author Michael Bond said "Paddington Bear was a refugee with a label: Please look after this bear".


'Britain in Palestine 1917-1948’ Britain’s role'

After the First World War, Britain and France divided the Middle East between them. It is a story of movement: of the British army moving to defeat the Ottoman rulers of Arabia; of Jews seeking refuge from pogroms in Eastern Europe; of Palestinians suffering domination and being made refugees. Discussion led by historian Dr Mary Embleton and Peter Riddell founding trustee of The Balfour Project. Picture: Britain captures Palestine: British troops parade through Jerusalem in December 1917  (Courtesy of the Matson Collection, Library of Congress).

Human Rights through textile language

Conflict Textiles contribution to the festival is titled “Human Rights through textile language”. It incorporates a conversation and in depth discussion of six arpilleras related to the festival theme for 2022 “Movement”.

Through these textiles, which express living experiences that often cannot be articulated in words and which embody the voices of those who engage in the search for the disappeared, Conflict Textiles will explore movement, testimony and resistance.

For the duration of the festival, images of the textiles will be displayed in book cabinets at Wolfson College.

Picture above: ‘For Paul, Disappeared 8 February 2012’ Zimbabwean arpillera, Shari Eppel, 2018. Photo Martin Melaugh, © Conflict Textiles.


'Conversations on climate change ​and mobility' 

According to the UN, an estimated 30 million people have already been forced to move due to the impact of climate change in 2020, and the World Bank predict that up to 216 million people may be displaced due to the impacts of climate change by 2050. 

​In this discussion, we bring together colleagues from across Oxford Brookes University with guest speaker Yasmeen Lari  to go behind the headlines to understand the connections between climate change and movement and question what we can learn from those on the move.

While the impacts of climate change on migration patterns seem clear, we do not yet fully understand the complex dynamics and relationships between the two phenomena.  

How refugees are portrayed in photographs Talk and Discussion

A discussion around the current exhibition at Tap Social Botley.Shafiur Rahman, documentary filmmaker and curator of the exhibition, discusses  the case of Rohingya refugees, how they are represented in photography and argues that the complexities of refugee lives are reduced for the sake of expediency.


​'The Next Generation Young Rohingya Refugees' Photography Exhibition

Incredible stories of young Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar. Photographs taken by refugees. Free exhibition. Exhibition space sponsored by Tap Social Movement, Oxford.

Sketch Club and The Hazara

The persecution against the Hazaras in Afghanistan continues to the present day. This exhibition is the story of an artist, the Sketch Club and his dedication to educate the Hazara refugees of Quetta, Pakistan. Free exhibition. Exhibition space sponsored by Common Ground Workspace.

bottom of page