Syria, Freedom of Speech, and Responsibility of Representation: The Films of Abounaddara as Tools to Enact the Right to the Image

Panel Discussion Tue 16 Jun 2015 12.30PM-2.30PM United Nations Headquarters
Secretariat Building, Conference Room 6
Visitors' Entrance: 46th Street and 1st Avenue
Photo ID required for entry. Please allow an additional time of 20 minutes to enter through UN security.
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12:30 Buffet lunch
1:15 – 2:30 Program
Please note that event begins promptly at 1:15.

Watch video documentation of this event here.

As situations of war and mass violations of human rights occur around the globe, our hyper-mediatized world responds through immediate documentation, dissemination, and debate. Syria's ongoing conflict has been no exception as it is simultaneously embedded deeply in the lives of the Syrian people and in the international discourse of the media, global leaders, humanitarian groups, and activists alike. Representations of human suffering and injustice in text, speech, and image are complicated terrains of political and ethical choices.

What is said, how it is said, and who says it both in language and in visuals are political and ethical choices that need to be unpacked. How to respect human dignity, a concept fundamental to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How to ensure in legal terms the right of the individual to dignified representation in the context of freedom of the press? What standards of communication need to be established? How does freedom of speech engage in this terrain? What new understandings of representation do we need to develop?

Since the start of the Syrian Civil War, the anonymous collective Abounaddara has engaged in this international debate using film tactics, releasing one short "bullet film" each week into the global discourse. Abounaddara has been nominated for the 2014 Human Rights Tulip of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and is the recipient of The New School's Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics. The event will begin with a selection of Abounaddara's short films to serve as the point of departure for a broader panel discussion around the intersection of the Right to the Image, the dignity of the individual, and the freedom of the press.

Charif Kiwan, member and spokesperson, Abounaddara
Susie Linfield, Professor, New York University
Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN American Center

Opening remarks by Peter van der Vliet, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations.

Hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.