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Good morning, this is Abdulaziz Muhamat, a human rights defender, and I am here to question the supposed voicelessness of refugees and of people on the move.

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Abdul Aziz Muhamat,


Giving a voice back to the voiceless: a call to empower refugees

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) special envoy, US actress, film-maker Angelina Jolie (C) waves at Rohingya people after her visit to Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugees in Teknuf, Cox's bazar in Bangladesh. (Photo: EPA/Suman Paul)

I’m tired of hearing celebrities saying they are “voices of the voiceless.” Unfortunately, I hear it often from celebrities with our pictures and stories, rather than from refugees themselves. The so-called “voiceless” are individuals living in poverty and conflict zones, and were forced to leave their countries while they were muffled, hushed, pushed down and left out. But they are not voiceless. They do not need your voices but they do need you to put them behind the microphone, make room at the table, and give them a chance to speak up. If we want to find lasting and sustainable solutions for the refugee and migrant crisis, then stop speaking for the so-called voiceless, and start working alongside them to make sure their powerful voices are heard.

Media, the arts and celebrities often say they strive to “give voice to the voiceless”. While this can empower, it can also be a potentially harmful tool for them too. It makes me feel like an object, it discourages me from speaking for myself and most importantly, it is dehumanising because someone else is speaking on my behalf. Being a refugee means more than being an alien, no right, no voice; this can sound trite, clichéd, even patronising. Speaking on our behalf can take away the real voices of the people concerned and replace them with a slogan, “Voice of the Voiceless”. Are they really voiceless? If so, then who took their voices?

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Some news from us ...

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Aventinus Foundation buys Le Temps and Heidi.news: what this means for Geneva Solutions Geneva Solutions was born within Heidi.news and maintains a privileged relationship with its team. However, it is financed by a foundation that is not impacted by the acquisition and will therefore remain completely independent. That said… these changes in the local media landscape are very interesting for our young platform!

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Anticipatory reads by GESDA

Butterflies in the belly when you are in love! Or knots in the stomach when having to pass an exam. Seems like the brain and the gut are connected – at least metaphorically. But over the last few years, more and more studies show that what happens in the brain physiologically (including diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's) could be linked to the community of millions of bacteria living in the gut, called the microbiome.

New research published in Nature indicates that, in mice, the gut might also do its part for good in protecting the brain by training the immune system. Mens sana in corpore sano - more true than ever.

---Olivier Dessibourg


The gut trains the immune system to protect the brain. This finding opens a new area of neuroimmunology.

Nature (EN)

Trust in AI is linked to people’s attachment style in human relationships. This is demonstrated in three studies.

ScienceDirect (EN)

'Deep learning is going to be able to do everything'. An interview with AI pioneer Geoff Hinton

MIT Technology Review (EN)

The xenobot future is coming. We're on the cusp of being able to program biological systems like we program computers.

Photo article

Photo: Johns Hopkins University

Researchers engineer tiny machines that deliver medicine efficiently. They are the size of a speck of dust.

MedicalXpress (EN)

How the strangeness of our dreams reveals their true purpose. A new explanation of dreams.

NewScientist (EN)

Virtual power plants could help solve our energy needs. Building a greener grid will be essential in the coming decades.

Singularity Hub (EN)

How the International Space Station became a base to launch humanity’s future. The outpost is now seen as a linchpin for future economic activity in space.

The New York Times (EN)

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This selection is proposed by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator GESDA, working on anticipating cutting-edge science and technological advances to develop innovative and inclusive solutions for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants.

GS news is a new media project covering the world of international cooperation and development. Don’t hesitate to forward our newsletter!

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