‘Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges’ at the Oxford Human Rights Festival 2024

Human Rights Festival 2024 poster

Housing and food justice, and the complexities of the situation in Gaza and Israel are among the topics to be explored at the Oxford Human Rights Festival 2024.

Now in its 22nd year, the Oxford Human Rights Festival is a series of events organised by the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) based in Oxford Brookes University’s School of Architecture. ‘Break Barriers, Build Bridges’ is the theme of this year’s festival, which runs from 15 to 22 March. 

Dr Supriya Akerkar, Director of CENDEP, said: “In the current world where humanity is often divided by divisive politics mobilised through identities defined through race, religion and geographical borders, it is more important than ever that we affirm our common humanity and the universal human rights of all people. The festival invites all of us to join and harbour generosity of spirit as individuals and as a collective by crossing boundaries of divisiveness and hostility, wherever and whenever we encounter them.”

The festival kicks off on Friday 15 March with architectural designer and community engagement specialist, Olwethu Nkala Jack. Olwethu will speak on his decade-long journey fostering positive change in communities and questioning spatial injustices in South Africa. 

Film screenings throughout the festival include the Oscar-winning documentary ‘20 Days in Mariupol’ on Monday 18 March. The documentary follows a team of trapped Ukrainian journalists who document their experiences during the Russian invasion. 

On Thursday 21 March there will be a screening of ‘The Old Oak’ directed by Ken Loach. The film follows the struggles of a mining community facing unexpected challenges when Syrian refugees arrive in their village, sparking tensions and forging unlikely connections between the locals and newcomers. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion by representatives of Refugee Resource, Asylum Welcome and Refugee Education UK. 

Threads of Change: A Fashion Swap for Human Rights on Sunday 19 March will give visitors the chance to pick-up pre-loved items of clothing and accessories. Visitors will also have the chance to chat with representatives from Fashion Revolution, Fashion Act Now, Oxfam and Swap Don’t Shop.  

Oxford Mutual Aid will be leading a discussion on the concept of food as a human right in ‘Food Injustice and the Right to Sustenance: If Oxford’s so rich, then why am I hungry?’ on Monday 18 March. They will discuss why there is a huge step to take between believing that no one should go hungry, and the practice of ensuring that food injustice is brought to an end.

Oxford Against Cutting (OAC) tackle harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage in ‘Issues of "Honour" in Marriage and Reproduction’ on Thursday 21 March. The seminar will explore issues of abuse, feelings of shame and community pressures that can affect girls and women. 

The festival will culminate in a showcase session entitled ‘What do Human Rights mean to you?’ on 22 March, with creative contributions from the community in Oxford. 

Dr Akerkar added: “This showcase provides an opportunity to bring together the views of our community, hear from some of the contributors and reflect on the festival’s themes. It will help round-off what we hope will be an inspiring festival of practical sessions, seminars, film screenings and much more, enabling all participants to reflect more deeply on the theme of human rights.”

For more information and to book tickets visit The Oxford Human Rights Festival website or check out the full festival programme