Part of a podcast series

The Fifth Estate

View all episodes in this series

Tom Porteous on Human Rights and COVID-19

Listen to Tom Porteous on Human Rights and COVID-19

Screenshot of Sally Warhaft, in our studio, and Tom Porteous, via video link

Sally Warhaft speaks with Tom Porteous, who joined us live from Paris

Tom Porteous is a former journalist for the Guardian and the BBC, and an expert on global conflict management and resolution. Now deputy program director at Human Rights Watch, he joined Sally Warhaft live from Paris to discuss human rights and COVID-19. 

The pair talk through the existing tensions and inequities the pandemic has brought into sharp relief. They discuss, too, the immediate human rights challenges – from healthcare access and healthcare workers’ labor rights to family violence, education access and prisoners’ rights, to increasing incidents of racism.

Porteous also discusses post-pandemic life and the reasons for caution and optimism. What challenges can we anticipate, and mitigate, in terms of vaccine access? And could the post-COVID moment prompt a rethinking of social contracts, and an era of major public policy innovation?


Portrait of Tom Porteous

Tom Porteous

Tom Porteous is the deputy program director at Human Rights Watch and is based in Washington DC. He joined Human Rights Watch in 2006 as the London director responsible for communications and advocacy in the United Kingdom. Porteous has a background in journalism, diplomacy, and UN peacekeeping. In the 1980s and early 1990s he was a freelance correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, and other media, first in Cairo and later in Berlin, Algeria, and Morocco. He worked in UN peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Liberia. He also served as conflict management adviser for Africa in the UK's Foreign Office from 2001 to 2003. Porteous studied classics at Oxford University.

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.