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Jun 13, 2017

In Episode 8 of Series 2 of The Rights Track, Claire Thomas, Deputy Director of Minority Rights Group, talks about upholding the rights of minority ethnic, linguistic and religious communities around the world.


Claire explains that MRG works with communities or groups rather than individuals who may be different because of the language they speak, their religion or their ethnicity. Further explanation of the areas of the world in which MRG works.

Todd asks Claire what she makes of recent indications from the US and the UK that there might be some sort of a “roll back” in their commitment to international human rights.

Claire outlines her concerns about what she sees as a ‘dramatic rise’ in anti migrant, anti refugee attitudes and associated hate crime over the last year in a number of countries, all of which goes against what MRG stands for.

Brief discussion of recent political events in The Netherlands and France, which saw a rise in support for the far right ahead of recent elections.


The sort of work that MRG does: advocating for minorities, working with refugees and migrants on the ground to capture evidence, and helping them speak for themselves locally, nationally and internationally at events such as Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs).

Claire mentions a major piece of work in Iraq where MRG is gathering information electronically as part of its efforts to protect vulnerable groups and more traditional ‘on the ground’ work in South Asia to promote and protect religious freedoms.

Todd asks at what point MRG pulls back from a community or country to let them manage issues themselves.

09.08 - 17.54

Claire and Todd discuss the challenges of identifying a route to success and following it. They talk about a log frame (logical framework) approach to activities designed to promote human rights. Claire points out the need for flexibility because of changing conditions and contexts.

What success looks like - when does MRG know its work has had an impact? Claire explains that its not all about what MRG does itself, but how it might have influenced others e.g. a duty bearer to make a change so credit is inevitably shared.

Claire explains how MRG approaches a new project by identifying what the big blocking factors are to realising rights. She explains how MRG tries to get to the discriminatory attitudes in people’s heads as well as tackling discriminatory practices by changing laws.


Claire describes a street theatre programme in 7 countries to tackle racism.

Further discussion about the challenges in evaluating the effectiveness of programmes like this.


Todd asks Claire whether its possible to put the more extreme and hateful attitudes that have been unleashed in recent months back in their ‘Pandora’s Box’.

Claire thinks there has been a recent resurgence in the values of diversity but says it’s not clear how it will be done or how long it will take.

Further links from Minority Rights Group

Suggested links from our partners at OpenGlobalRights