2023 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 jointly awarded to Carly Elliott and Bethany Nesbitt. 

Carly’s dissertation, entitled ‘Mak’ Bairn’s Richts Real: conceptualising the Scottish Approach to Justice for Children?’, was supervised by Dr Michelle Donnelly. 

Commenting on receiving the award, Carly said: 

I’m over the moon to be awarded this prize. My dissertation sought to contribute to current discourse around children’s rights in Scotland. This topic was inspired by the young people I’ve worked with over the years and recognition that the extent to which all citizens can seek effective remedy evidences just how rights respecting a country really is. 

My career has largely focused on working with, and advocating for, children who have a high level of state intervention in their lives. This experience means they often require accessible, timely and child friendly methods of seeking justice, not readily available to all in Scotland. My dissertation interpreted access to justice in its broadest sense, evidencing the power of a well resourced, wide spectrum of justice mechanisms; from the non-judicial such as advocacy, to the judicial such as child friendly legal representation. It was a huge subject area however and so I hope to pursue further study in the future, perhaps contributing to our understanding of what high quality non-judicial access to justice looks like for children. 

I’ve recently joined the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) based at the University of Strathclyde. It’s evident that once a child is in conflict with the law, their ability to claim their rights can be significantly reduced and the work of CYCJ to improve this experience is something I’m very excited to be involved in. 

Bethany’s dissertation, ‘Strengthening the Rights of Older Persons: The case for international and national human rights reform’, was supervised by Professor Alan Miller: 

I am shocked and honoured to be awarded the dissertation prize amongst such a talented cohort. It is an immensely satisfying conclusion to my studies at Strathclyde. My dissertation was about strengthening the human rights of older persons in a Scottish context. It is a field of law I am passionate about as my grandma was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. Since then, I have witnessed firsthand the difficulties in ensuring her dignity, rights and freedoms. The COVID-19 pandemic and decline of the social care system also exposed the way older persons’ rights are consistently pushed to the margins. I am grateful to have been able to give my voice to this topic. Something the LLM taught me was how human rights law can facilitate entire cultural shifts and place the interests of vulnerable groups on centre stage. I hope Scotland can lead the charge in shifting attitudes and creating effective, enforceable protections for older persons through our new legislation. I am looking to pursue opportunities to aid Scotland, and the UK in this journey.

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

Carly and Bethany’s prize follows nine previous awards: 

Katy Nisbet (2022) ‘Judging by Nudging: To what extent can judicial activism provide an effective remedy in social rights adjudication in Scotland?’ 

Vicki Pirie (2021) ‘Human Trafficking and the Hostile Environment: Can the UK meet its obligations towards survivors of trafficking while pursuing current immigration policies?’; and

Helen Schwittay (2021), ‘How relevant does the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women remain to addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in Scotland?’ 

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'.