Human Rights Day events

Issue date: 03 December 2008

University of the West of England The protection of Human Rights is being put under the spotlight in Bristol this week. In the 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed, abuse has taken many new forms. This significant 60th anniversary is being celebrated on 10 December with a public debate at the Watershed, followed by a two day conference at the Pierian Centre.

Trafficking for forced labour: how to protect human rights? is the title of the high-profile debate at 18.00 on Wednesday 10 December at the Watershed Media Centre. A panel of experts will describe the impact that trafficking for forced labour is having on human rights around the world. They will paint a picture that undermines any complacency lingering from our celebration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Slave Trade. These abuses are wide-spread; they're happening here; and they go far beyond the familiar confines of the sex industry. The debate then opens up, with a chance for you to have your say and to question the experts. These are hot topics, demanding cool heads and a commitment to social justice.

The Watershed debate is an important one, organised by Dr Christien van den Anker of the University of the West of England, and chaired by Amy Auton of Amnesty International, Bristol. “Trafficking is still widely misunderstood”, says Christien. “We are delighted to contribute to more detailed knowledge in the media and public opinion on this important human rights violation. It is intimately linked in with the wider issue of migration and labour rights for everyone. Bristol is especially relevant as a place for this as we are trying to move from being a city of slavery to a city of sanctuary.”

The panel comprises three distinguished speakers, authorities on different aspects of human trafficking: Roger Plant from the International Labour Organisation; Klara Skrivankova from Anti-Slavery International; and Paul Whitehouse from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. Tickets are available from the Watershed box office on 0117 927 5100, costing £6 (or £4.50 concessions). The debate runs from 18.00–20.00 on Wednesday 10 December, and is sponsored by Bristol City Council and the Pierian Centre.

The following two days, 11-12 December, are devoted to an academic conference on 'Human rights and migration: the context for Trafficking for forced labour'. This takes place at the Pierian Centre in St Pauls, and is attracting academics and researchers from all across Europe. Papers will be delivered by experts from Prague, Lisbon, Brussels, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Dublin, Pristina and Stockholm, as well as many UK universities. They'll focus on how the forced labour involved in trafficking and migration interacts with national welfare systems, and how legal protection can best be afforded these workers. The conference is organized by UWE's Christien van den Anker, and sees Bristol playing host to some of the latest thinking and research on these urgent topics.



1.For interviews and further information, contact Dr Christien van den Anker:

2.For further Human Rights events go to the
conference website

3. The Pierian Centre is a conference centre and venue for personal learning in Bristol which was established to provide the best possible environment for people to make practical and sustainable changes in all aspects of their lives. The centre attracts a wide range of people, from management teams in blue chip companies and organisations working with disadvantaged young people, to yoga teachers and voice coaches. For more information on the Pierian Centre contact 0117 924 4512 or or go to

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