University of Cambridge > > Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events > CGHR Research Group: "Digital Media as Experimental Governance: Shifting the Accountability Paradigm in International Human Rights?"

CGHR Research Group: "Digital Media as Experimental Governance: Shifting the Accountability Paradigm in International Human Rights?"

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New ways of reporting violations using mobile applications promises democratisation and empowerment for ordinary civilians, prompting a critical inquiry into the political implications of these tools on existing modes of governance. Our research answers the question: do experimental, digital technology forms of human rights governance present a more effective mechanism for accountability than inter-governmental organizations? The first part of our project will demonstrate that the United Nations framework for human rights governance is flawed by design on three accounts: it is unable to bypass the monolith of sovereignty to discipline states; too under-resourced to establish National Human Rights Institutions; naming and shaming is impeded by geopolitical interests of strong states. The rise of digital media platforms designed for reporting human rights violations has been scrutinised by predominantly sociologists and practitioners, in their potential to generate accountability. The second part of this project collates this research to develop a framework for understanding the stages and mechanisms of this form of “experimental” governance. Finally, the political implications are examined, using the case studies, CameraV and eyeWitness to Atrocities. By testing these digital initiatives against the shortcomings of IGO -based governance, we can determine whether they transcend or perpetuate conventional problems.

The University of Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights Research Group is a forum for graduate students and early-career researchers from any department and disciplinary background researching issues of governance and human rights in the global, regional, and national contexts. This is an excellent opportunity to receive cross-disciplinary feedback, to produce a published CGHR Working Paper with editorial help, and to meet and network with student and academic researchers.

The CGHR Research Group meets every first Monday of the month from 1 to 2pm in the Alison Richard Building, Department of Politics and International Studies (7 West Road). Participants may bring their lunch, and tea and coffee will be provided after the seminar. The aim is to facilitate an exchange between younger and more established researchers, offering a forum for the development of new and innovative ideas, constructive criticism and stimulating debate. Each month, one paper will be presented, and detailed feedback will be provided by a discussant (an established researcher, to be arranged by the Convenor) before opening up for a wider exchange. Presenters will be encouraged to incorporate feedback into a revised document, for possible publication as a CGHR Working Paper.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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