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Abstract from

Changing Cultures in Closed Environments: What Works?

Jem Stevens has experience working with a number of human rights NGOs and the UN, with a focus on human rights in places of detention.

This article looks at what works to positively change cultures in closed environments to ones based on respect for human rights and dignity. The article starts by asking what we mean by ‘cultures’ in closed environments. It takes organisational culture theory as a model that can be drawn on to understand what makes up cultures in these places and what factors influence them. It argues that there is no magic solution that can be used to positively change cultures in closed environments. However, drawing on the experience of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and experts interviewed, as well as existing bodies of research in this field, the article proposes some key processes, policies and practices – both internal and external to the closed environment in question – that can contribute to positive culture change, and, ultimately, to better treatment and conditions in closed environments.

(2014) Vol 31 Law in Context p228

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