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Report: DECLARATION. (the universal one) by TINKEBELL. (keynote)

What is of real value to us? TINKEBELL., artist, writer, storyteller and maker, provokes by showing the blind spots in society. For the occasion of the Economia Festival – The Limited Edition, she wrote a universal declaration and called upon a well-positioned friend to read it to us.


TINKEBELL. introduces herself, her speech and the friend she has asked to read it to us.


On the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Eleonor Roosevelt’s speech in 1948.


An analysis of where we are now, 75 years after the origin of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


How did we end up where we are now? Why do we let things happen as they currently are?

Now what?

If we truly value Universal Human Rights, what should we do?

Behind the scenes


Directly after the premiere a Q&A with TINKEBELL. was held, featuring the following main topics and insights:

Q: The story behind the story. How did you come up with the concept?

A: Baltan invited me to contribute to the Economia Festival with a speech on value. For me value has nothing to do with money. Through my work experience, I know that human values are not always taken into account. In fact, they are often being ignored. That’s why I wrote a speech on the lack of implementation on the declaration of Human Rights, how this happened and what we can do to change that. How can we stop the circle of de-humanizing people? So, I thought, practice what you preach and let’s turn at least one “number” into a person again. I already had quite a lot of contacts in Lesbos from my previous work. They helped me to find Jawad. Based on his ability and understanding of English, to ensure that the person I was about to involve, would completely understand what he or she would be contributing to. When I arrived in the camp, Jawad was already waiting for me.

Q: Why did you choose a 13yo boy to get your message across?

A: First it felt like a duty (to practice what I preach). Also: because those human rights don’t count for him. He had never even heard about them. So first we spoke about them. It was remarkable that as a child, he did not even understand all of them. Now, we are still in contact almost on a daily basis.

Q: I see a similarity that our economy prospers because we dehumanize people working in it. So that’s how I do see a link with the economy.

A: Yes, exactly. For example, in the fashion industry or any other industry, in which we have people (children) make products in conditions that are not acceptable for human beings. Every conflict in the world starts there: When people cannot be the human being they want to be. So, in a way you could say our current neo-liberal system stands in the way of implementing the universal rights.

Q: That would mean we could sue companies.

A: Exactly.

Q: It’s interesting that we have a legal system that allows us to force companies to rethink how they treat people.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with this video?

A: That I turned one number back into a person.

Q: How do you see this project in line with your previous work, in which you managed to fuel public debate and successfully worked on the Defense of Children?

A: I research everything what we call our norms. I put them in a different context or enlarge them and suggest how we can fix them. That’s also what I did in this project. I am very excited about Jawad being a person. Also, the next part of the project comes around the corner. Tonights I will launch a competition, in which the assignment is to find 5 articles in the Declaration of Human Rights that dó apply for Jawad. The winner will get a ticket to Lesbos to visit Jawad. In the Netherlands only 100-150 people have actually visited a refugee camp. These people more or less became an activist. But this situation on Lesbos is there since 2015. People are tired of talking about refugees. That’s why we need fresh people, who can tell the story about this situation.

Q: How many times have you visited refugee camps?

A: Maybe in total I have been in 20 different camps all together? I also stayed in a camp for a few days.

Q: What’s the trade-off?

A: Super frustrating. I can only do small things. That’s why I talk with Jawad almost every day. Today, he asked for a phone, so I am sending him one. Also: I am helping him with his expectations. For example, he thinks he will be leaving the camp after the talk all refugees get with the Greek government. Which is obviously not true.

Q: As a researcher, one would go to Lesbos, invite someone to talk and (co-)write your speech. Now you employed him as an actor to read your own script. Why did you choose this methodology?

A: In a lot of situations, what you say is correct. But in this case, it is absolutely forbidden to speak up about his situation. So now, he is reading something that comes from me, so he cannot legally be punished for it.

Q: It’s a pity just one person that can visit…

A: All the hotels are empty, so they would be very happy to welcome you.


This talk was held on September 1st, before the fires on camp Moria on Lesbos. Jawad and his family managed to save themselves.

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