• Rights4Time

Calling community organizations, educators, artists, writers, photographers, early career academics

Updated: Aug 9

On behalf of the Rights for Time Research team, welcome to our website and network!

Rights for Time seeks to learn from people living and working within contexts of humanitarian emergency and better articulate for policymakers and international NGOs what harm and its redress can look like. Rights for Time wants to foster quality conversations about humanitarian protection that we haven’t been able to have in other forums.

All too often, humanitarian interventions, or protection, are inadequate, time-limited, and do not resolve the issues that caused the emergency, or crisis. Humanitarian protection may also fail and lead to more problems for communities when aid does not consider the local and historical context.

Tired of seeing international aid initiatives that don’t work? Want to help tell a more complicated story about ‘protection’? We want to fund you!

We are proud to announce our funding call to commission projects about time and humanitarian protection in low- and middle-income countries. We are going to commission around 10 projects, each worth up to £25,000!

We are keen to support community organizations (CSOs, NGOs, etc.), educators, artists, writers, photographers, early career academics, and more, who do not ordinarily have the resources to conduct arts and humanities projects, or who are not normally asked for their expertise.

Our aim is to make possible ideas that speak to how humanitarian projects can alleviate human suffering and protect lives, livelihoods, and dignity. As an Arts and Humanities-led project, we are interested in ways of better narrating, and better understanding what ‘harm’ and ‘protection’ are outside of the crisis framework.

Rights for Time, which is offering the funding, is an Arts and Humanities Research Council project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund Network. We are a project that has been co-developed and is co-led by community partners in low- and middle-income countries.

What do we mean by ‘crisis time’?

Churchill famously said, "never waste a good crisis," meaning that crisis can bring about fresh ways of thinking. Yet, crisis thinking usually falls short. Humanitarian protection initiatives tend to be crisis-focused and of limited duration. They identify a surface problem, but not the many problems underling the “crisis”. As a result, the effects of these initiatives have been short-lived, and have even backfired.

As an example, a Google search of the “Ukrainian crisis” results in over 120 million hits. Here is a random sample of the “bite size pieces” of the Ukrainian crisis in the news:

Putins’ war triggering another migrant crisis

Mental-health crisis facing Ukraine's displaced children

China says Ukraine crisis has ‘sounded an alarm for humanity’

Unfortunately, these headlines are all too familiar and will quickly fade from public view. None of the articles address the longer-term issues that led-up to the crisis, nor do they think broadly about the long-term legacy of the war. This thinking is not limited to the news, but also frames how humanitarian responses operate.

In Palestine, the ‘crisis’ is understood as one of refugees and displacement, so efforts at humanitarian intervention tend to focus on providing food, basic education, and safe housing. But the ‘crisis’ is really one of colonization and inequality. How do we change humanitarian narratives so that this becomes visible?

For sexual violence survivors in Kenya, the crisis is understood to be the offense itself. However, survivors experience ongoing human rights violations in the aftermath of sexual violence. Survivors face continued threats from perpetrators, stigmatisation from their communities and families, and poorly resourced and dysfunctional health and legal services that fail to deliver them aid. How can we evidence the harm that is occurring to advocate for more effective interventions?

The Rights for Time Research Network aims to change the dominant narratives and practices around humanitarian protection.

How do you want this to happen?

Currently, we have five case studies across different fields of largely academic research. Each looks at different contexts and ‘conflicts’ to offer new vocabularies for describing, understanding, and framing possible ‘interventions.’

· A mental health programme designed for ongoing contexts of harm in Gaza city;

· A photography workshop exhibition with a historically marginalised community in rural Rwanda;

· A study of how the Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya Network is collecting better evidence in to support survivors of sexual violence;

· An exploration of the literary concept of the ‘refugee’ and its many meanings in Jordan;

· And a review of policy in Lebanon as an archive of crisis response.

We are interested in funding more academic research, but even more so, we want to fund creative projects that can help explore and give vocabulary (literal, figurative, visual) to the experience of harm and opportunities for redressing it.

For examples:

· Projects producing literature that either include or conclude with an educational component sharing what is expressed and offering opportunities to talk about it;

· Research into programs and projects developed by communities and NGOs to understand and give vocabularies to how protection is done from the grassroots

· Art and photography exhibits that explore and bring to the themes of Rights for Time

· Age-appropriate children’s books that explore our topics – for examples, our partner We Love Reading developed these beautiful books, and Amnesty International has produced these

What happens to the research?

The Rights for Time Research Network brings a new temporal perspective to humanitarian protection.

Rights for Time research is about demonstrating that crisis accounts miss the big picture.

Protection that responds to only the most immediate abuse or threat fails to understand the nature of injury and limits sustainable solutions. Our research shows that short term policy making has long term consequences. We need a more complex reading of humanitarian crises to have sustainable solutions.

Our network—which we hope you will become part of, is an interdisciplinary, intersectoral arts and humanities-led project.

We study community-led initiatives that protect people and communities from enduring and cumulative traumas. We have projects so far in Kenya, Rwanda, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. And we are growing!

Our network amplifies the solutions that communities have developed for themselves, countering the usual narrative of aid recipients being helpless, passive victims.

We are a collective of academics and NGO and CSO partners who have a long-standing track record of co-developing and delivering research in the global south. Our Network came together in the Spring of 2019 to respond to a humanitarian protection research call, which resulted in our being awarded a £2 million grant from the GCRF to launch the Rights for Time Network Plus in 2020.

More about this commissioning

We are building our network over 3 phases. In phase 1, we commissioned proof-of-concept projects in 5 LMICS that demonstrate the intergenerational, cumulative, and enduring traumas that are being addressed via community-developed humanitarian initiatives. Rights for Time partners across the Middle East and Africa offer, through their work, their own definitions of safety and wellbeing that exist outside the ‘crisis time’ of typical humanitarian responses. In Kenya, this is carried out through a project with survivors of sexual assault. This survivors’ network is working to prevent sexual violence by changing the way that evidence of assault is gathered. The aim is to increase the effectiveness of the justice process while reducing the compounding harms that often occur in the wake of sexual violence. In Jordan, as well as in 42 other countries, is changing mindsets through reading to create changemakers in refugee communities and beyond. Another partner, Palestine Trauma Centre, is preparing communities, families, and children for that is sure to come, and thereby protecting people from further harm through their award-winning focusing programme.

The Rights for Time Network plus is now in its second phase, which is about expanding the network to include more partners and creating a larger evidence base for “what works” in humanitarian protection policy and practice. (We are called a “network plus” because the intention is that we will expand our network to more countries and investigators.)

Our network is about fostering quality collaborations and gathering the best evidence, embedding “what really works” into humanitarian protection policy and practice globally.

We really hope you will join our network. We need your ideas, networks, and energy. We need you to engage and leading at the help to ensure policy makers are asking great questions and focusing on the best solutions.

We hope you will also apply for one of our £25,000 grants. The main measure of our success is in drawing together partners who have new ways of thinking about humanitarian protection. Ultimately, we want to raise the profile of our partners and research to impact humanitarian protection policy and practice locally as well as globally-- This would constitute a great outcome and represent real change in my view.

Visit our funding call page for more information. Watch back a webinar (in English as well as in Arabic) that we held about our funding call. Join our mailing list and get into touch about the work you are doing as it relates to our themes. We’d love to share it with our members and beyond.

--- About the authors:

Heather D. Flowe, is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. She is the PI and Project Manager for Rights for Time, and she also conducts research with the Survivors of Sexual Violence Network in Kenya. The research is focused on memory and sexual violence, with the aim of preventing the cumulative harms that happen to survivors as they seek vital and justice.

Dr Nora Parr is a Fellow at Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin and the School of English at the University of Birmingham, and a Co-investigator for Rights for Time, leading the Palestinian strand. Her work, ‘What is the Arabic for ‘Trauma’? traces the emergence of a unique paradigm for the recounting of violence that is distinct from but in conversation with existing trauma theory.

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