Posted by: annmucc | February 2, 2010

Invisible Children and Global Citizenship

Last week I received an e-mail from UCL:

Invisible Children is a non-profit organisation which—based on the
documentary shot in 2003—has turned into a worldwide campaign to
highlight the plight of children in Uganda’s long-running civil war. The
film and campaign is much more than just about Uganda, though. It
provides a wonderful example of highlighting neglected and unknown
distant problems, the responsibilities that we might have to act, and
the possibilities of social change. Invisible Children is the remarkable
story of how 3 young college students made a film about the plight of
child soldiers in Uganda.

The original documentary is an amazing and moving film highlighting the
untold story of how the violence impacts on children in Northern Uganda.
The film was originally made for and shown to the filmmakers’ friends
and family; but they passed it on to their friends and so on until it
was eventually picked up by the likes of CNN. This film came to be
watched by over 5 million people and inspired an awareness, educational,
fundraising, and sponsorship campaigns to help rebuild the war-torn
communities in Uganda. Invisible Children is now running as a permanent
campaign. It is the way in which the campaign has been organised through
society’s grassroots, through the word of mouth, and the high uptake
among young people that makes it so interesting and powerful.

Some of the themes which will be addressed in the evening will include:

* Do we have global responsibilities and obligations to distant others?
* What does being an active and informed global citizen mean?
* How does globalisation affect our knowledge of distant others?
* Can young people directly engage with and take action on
international conflicts and humanitarian issues?
* How does an effective global campaign work?

In addition to a representative of Invisible Children, three speakers
will reflect on the work of the NGO and the film before taking part in a
Q&A discussion with the audience after the film:

* Dr Alex Braithwaite
<http://www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/people/alex-braithwaite>– expert on
human security and conflict
* Dr Avia Pasternak
<http://www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/people/avia-pasternak>– expert on global
citizenship and justice
* Dr Jennifer Hudson
<http://www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/people/jennifer-van-heerde>– expert on
public opinion and attitudes

I had a vague idea of what is going on in Central Africa, but not much. Also, although UCL is big on the idea of global citizenship I am not particularly knowledgeable about the subject. I asked Michael if he was interested, and he said…sure!

For some reason I didn’t read the e-mail properly so I just thought that we would be watching the original film. However, of course, this was not so. After the introduction by Dr David Hudson from the Department of Political Science at UCL, it was the turn of the Invisible Children representatives to present to us their organisation. Being a media-based NGO they didn’t just talk, but also showed us a podcast made about Invisible Children by NBC (cannot find it online). Following this it was on to a new video made by Invisible Children in preparation for a rally held last April. I found a video about invisible Children which you may check out here:

After the presentation by Invisible Children the event moved on to the academics, and a broader discussion. The three academics presented 5 mins each on different aspects of global conflicts and global citizenship and what does this mean. This was then followed by a general Q&A with people from the audience.

It was an interesting set of questions that was asked. This is as could be expected from a mixed audience, included at least one Ugandan who intervened. It was a very enlightening event about a global issue that i have not thought much about: although I have heard about the conflicts in central Africa, I never knew the cause, and the media doesn’t do much to put it into the people’s thoughts. Definitely glad I did not miss it!

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