2021 LLM Dissertation Award Winners

The annual prize for the best dissertation by a student on the LLM in Human Rights Law has this year been awarded jointly to Vicki Pirie and Helen Schwittay. 

Vicki’s dissertation, entitled ‘Human Trafficking and the Hostile Environment: Can the UK meet its obligations towards survivors of trafficking while pursuing current immigration policies?’, was supervised by Professor Jane Scoular. 

Helen’s dissertation, entitled ‘How relevant does the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women remain to addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in Scotland?’, was supervised by Dr Elaine Webster. 

Commenting on receiving the award, Vicki said: 

I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded the LLM Human Rights Law Dissertation Award for my dissertation.

While I am firmly against the set of UK immigration policies which can be generally grouped together under the heading of the ‘hostile environment’ and would support their abolition, my dissertation focussed on how the lives of trafficking victims in the UK may be improved whilst the hostile environment policies remain in place.

I hope to be able to carry out further research in this field. I am particularly interested in how the rights of trafficking victims in Scotland may be enhanced should the proposed Scottish Human Rights Bill become law. There is a long way to go but I am hopeful that Scotland can become a leader in this area.

I am currently working as a solicitor at Shelter Scotland Housing Law Service where I am able to use what I learned on the LLM to assist my clients to advocate for the full realisation of their rights.

 From Helen: 

I'm delighted to receive this award for best dissertation, especially as for the first eight weeks of my Masters I thought I was so out of my depth that I was never going to complete it! 

I really enjoyed writing my thesis which considered CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention as means to address gender-based violence against women and girls in Scotland. My research gave me a solid understanding of the national context in which the Scottish women's sector works, and at the start of this year I began my career within the women's sector working for Close the Gap. I hope to grow and continue working within women's rights nationally or even internationally, depending on what the future holds! 

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law warmly congratulates Helen and Vicki on this fantastic achievement and gives thanks to our generous sponsor, Balfour + Manson. 

Helen and Vicki follow seven previous awards: 

Éabha Sweeney (2020), ‘The Distance Between the Gutter and the Stars: Can Human Rights Address the Everyday Crisis of Poverty Amongst Plenty?’ 

Rachel Hill (2019) ‘Gender Identity, Healthcare and Human Rights: Is a Change in the Law Necessary to Protect Intersex Children in the UK from Genital Normalising Surgeries?’ 

Conor Hill (2018) ‘The Use of ‘Alternative’ Justice Mechanisms to Secure Women’s Rights in Post-Conflict Societies: Lessons from Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia’) 

Douglas Jack (2017) ‘Would the incorporation of socio-economic rights into the Human Rights Act increase its popularity with the public?’ 

Juliet Harris (2016) ‘The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Scots Law: A case for incorporation' 

Gemma McArthur (2015) 'Has International Human Rights Law Made Room for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights within the United Nations Framework and System?’ 

Peter Reid (2014) ‘A safeguard or a Barrier to Justice? The Abolition of Corroboration and the Implications of a Human Rights Based Approach to Scottish Criminal Justice'.