Irene Kahn, Ha Jin, Deyan Sudjic
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Meet the guests
Secretary General of Amnesty International Irene Kahn considers how we should define human rights, 60 years on from the UN's Universal Declaration.
Chinese American novelist Ha Jin reflects on the liberations and limits of writing in an adopted language in his book The Writer as Migrant.
Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum in London, suggests in his book The Language of Things that people's possessions define them.
Listen to the 60 Second Idea To Change The World
Each week one guest presents an idea to enhance the world. This week it's the turn of Deyan Sudjic.
COMMENTS ON THE PROGRAMME
I think the issue is about the boundaries of rights. There are boundaries between the individual and the collective rights and there are boundaries between one individual's rights and another. It's not so much about a floor and ceiling but a floor, ceiling and four walls. We all know the things we naturally feel to be wrong and that's a good place to start.
I think highly of Amnesty International but fear that now that the organization is branching out into so many aspects of human rights, its valuable work of freeing political prisoners eg. in Burma, Vietnam, China, Tunisia, Morocco etc, will be diluted if not neglected.
Triggered by Deyan Sudjic's remarks on the design of money, I fell back on my personal theory on the quality of design in relation to its status. When, in 1975, West Germany changed the design of its 5 Mark coin, I deduced that while designers obviously had to fight hard to get their hands on the job, they lost all criterion of aesthetics. Ever since, I've been observing similar developments that prove my theory. Quite obviously, things are being made to look slick, not beautiful!
The collection of thoughts and beliefs, so-called Human Rights, because they amount to the imposition of those thoughts and beliefs on foreign, sovereign, independent and free nations of the world, makes them political and condemnable. Prince Awele Odor, Lagos
Concluding your show on rights and luxuries, you wondered whether the most precious thing is not something beautiful or even a possession, but rather the luxury of free time. In fact, your conclusion is unwitting. For free time, and only free time, allows us to make a work of art of ourselves, contrasted with the self-abasement of human beings treating themselves as machines. Your genius economist Keynes took it up and gave it business credibility, for he showed the systematic reduction of the working day is essential to the economic advancement of modern society. But contemporary Britain has forgotten him.
Ronald Schleyer, Minnesota
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