Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law

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The Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law (CSHRL) launched in 2008 as a focal point for research and teaching in human rights law.

Our staff conduct research and engage beyond academia in a range of human rights areas. The CSHRL facilitates student engagement with human rights research, in particular through Strathclyde’s LLM in Human Rights Law , and postgraduate supervision. The Centre holds a regular programme of conferences and seminars and engages with the academic community, legal profession,  public and non-governmental sector in Scotland, the UK and internationally.

For podcasts of the CSHRL’s launch conference, bringing together a wide range of national and international speakers and cross-sector academics and practitioners that was held on 31st October 2008 in collaboration with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, visit the conference site.


Board Members:

  • Professor Alan Miller (Visiting professor)
  • Professor Tony Kelly (Visiting professor)
  • Professor Brice Dickson (Human Rights Centre, Queen’s University Belfast)
  • Ms Therese O’Donnell
  • Dr Sylvie Da Lomba

Centre Director: Dr Elaine Webster


Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law to co-host Secretariat of the Association of Human Rights Institutes

The CSHRL is delighted to be collaborating with the University of Edinburgh’s Global Justice Academy to host the Secretariat of the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI), a network of more than 60 institutes globally, involved in human rights research and education. The new Scotland Secretariat was endorsed by the General Assembly of the Association on Friday 28th April 2017. Dr Elaine Webster assumes the role of Executive Secretary alongside Dr Kasey McCall-Smith of Edinburgh Law School who assumes the role of Chair. They take over from former Chair, Dr Jonas Christoffersen, and Executive Secretary, Dr Eva Maria Lassen, both of the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Dr Elaine Webster said, “AHRI is an established community of scholars, which is growing globally. I am delighted to be able to make a contribution, and to work with a great colleague, Dr McCall-Smith, over the coming years. We both look forward to working with AHRI’s Executive Committee and diverse member institutions, and we thank the Danish Institute for the outstanding work that it has done over the past five years.” 

Collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

March 2017: The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Professor Hilal Elver, met with Professor Elisa Morgera of the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG), other SCELG members, and Dr Elaine Webster of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law, during a visit to Scotland to discuss opportunities to better integrate human rights standards into laws and policies on food.

The informal get-together with Strathclyde Law staff served to discuss the Rapporteur’s current work programme and explore opportunities for collaboration, based on ongoing research at Strathclyde that may support the implementation of Prof Elver’s mandate. In particular, opportunities were identified for SCELG to  draw on its areas of environmental law expertise that are relevant to the right to food, including biodiversityoceanstraditional knowledgecorporate accountability and land, food & agriculture. Ongoing projects regarding biosafety mainstreamingbiodiversity mainstreaming in the agricultural sector and benefit sharing within environmental law, and within the marine realm also emerged as sources of potential collaboration to support an integrated approach to Food and Human Rights. With regard to human rights law research, attention focused on socio-economic rights and human rights values.

Collaborations with external partners to enhance the impact of our research is at the heart of our work, as is practice-led teaching and student engagement with research. Prof Elisa Morgera is the Director of the LLM in Global Environmental Law and Governance and Co-Director, with Dr Daniela Diz, of the LLM in Law of the Sea, Sustainable Development and International Law. Dr Elaine Webster is Director of the LLM in Human Rights Law.

Professor Nicole Busby appointed to Scotland Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Professor Busby is one of four new members who have been appointed to the Scotland Committee. The Committee provides strategic support and advice for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in pursuing its objectives in Scotland. Professor Busby, who teaches and researches in the areas of equality, human rights and employment law, said of her new role: “I am delighted to have been appointed to the Scotland Committee of the EHRC. I will do my best to serve the committee, the Commission and the wider Scottish community well over the next three years. The challenges that lie ahead in protecting and furthering equality and human rights are considerable but I believe that Scotland is well placed to meet them and I am looking forward to playing a part that important work.”

Further information on the Scotland Committee can be found here (link to: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/commission-scotland/about-commission-scotland)

2016 LLM Human Rights Law Dissertation Award

The annual prize for the best dissertation by a student on the taught Masters programme in Human Rights Law has this year been awarded to Ms. Juliet Harris. The dissertation, entitled 'The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Scots Law: A case for incorporation', was supervised by Professor Kenneth Norrie. 

The dissertation explored whether it is possible, necessary and desirable to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, and concluded that there is a strong case for doing so but that to achieve the legislative and culture change needed, the precise model of incorporation must be developed in close consultation with wider civil society.  

Juliet follows previous prizewinners, Ms. Gemma McArthur (2015, for her dissertation entitled 'Has International Human Rights Law Made Room for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights within the United Nations Framework and System?' and Mr. Peter Reid (inaugural prize in 2014 for his dissertation entitled 'A safeguard or a Barrier to Justice? The Abolition of Corroboration and the Implications of a Human Rights Based Approach to Scottish Criminal Justice'). 

Commenting on receiving the award, Juliet, Director of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights), described how her research had informed her professional practice: "I've used my dissertation to underpin my discussions with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in advance of their review of the UK state party in May; to inform my work as Chair of the Rights of Child UK (ROCK) (a coalition of NGOs and charities working together to bring children's rights into UK law); and to support my work on the action groups involved in Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights."  

As in previous years, the standard of competition for the award was very high. The Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law congratulates Juliet on her achievement.

Follow-up to Violence against Women Initiative

A group of current and former students have made a consultation submission in response to a call by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. The call was regarding incorporation and implementation of the international and regional standards related to violence against women. This follows from a successful pilot project in 2015 in which the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law joined forces with Strathclyde Law Clinic to facilitate student engagement with human rights law and to exchange knowledge with groups outside of the University. Contact Dr Elaine Webster for further details.

Human Rights Project – Violence Against Women Initiative

The first initiative of Strathclyde Law School’s newly established Human Rights Project was to form part of research coordinated by the CARR centre at Harvard University involving universities from six countries. The Human Rights Project is a joint initiative of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law and Strathclyde Law Clinic. The research initiative on Violence Against Women examines the legal and implementation gaps in the global framework on Violence Against Women. The Strathclyde research group members were Holly Brannan, Seonaid Cavanagh, Rachel Conway, Jennifer Glinksi, Sheeba Kiran, Jennifer Martinez-Sillars, Lynsey Mitchell and Edna Okine and were supervised by Professor Jane Scoular and Dr Elaine Webster. The group was tasked with researching and writing a report on the current state of Scottish legislation and policies on Violence Against Women and to examine the impact of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Over four months the students researched Scottish policies and legislation, interviewed an array of professionals who work with violence against women and tried to examine the impact that the CEDAW Convention has had on decision-making in Scotland. 

For more info on this research, or on the Human Rights Project, contact Dr Elaine Webster.


Vertically-Integrated Project on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation

Two of our LLM Human Rights Law students, Nerissa Drennan and Morvern Rennie, have been offered the opportunity to represent the School of Law in a University-wide project. 

The Gates Foundation ‘Toilet Challenge’ offers the potential for students in a Vertically Integrated Project, bringing together students in 7 Departments across the University’s 4 Faculties, to develop a better understanding of how pan-disciplinary approaches to the Global Sanitation Challenge might be developed that are economically sustainable and socially appropriate. Nerissa and Morvern will each contribute complementary pieces of research linked to the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, supervised by Dr Francesco Sindico.

Human rights seminar marks 30 years of campaigning for freedom of information in Scotland

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) turns 30 this year. And it is marking the anniversary with a major seminar in Glasgow on Friday (26 September) exploring whether FOI is part of the human rights agenda, and what still needs to be done to improve the law in Scotland. The event is also Scotland’s celebration of International Right to Know Day, which is on the 28 September.

Leading public, employment and human rights lawyer, Aidan O’Neill QC will address the issue of human rights and freedom of information. The seminar is being hosted with the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law and the National Union of Journalists in Scotland.

Inaugural Dissertation Prize Awarded on the LLM Human Rights Law

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law (CSHRL) has for the first time coordinated the award of a prize for the best dissertation by a student on the taught Masters programme in Human Rights Law. The annual award is sponsored by Taylor and Kelly solicitors. The inaugural prize was awarded to Mr Peter Reid at the Law School’s prize giving ceremony in July. The topic of the prizewinning dissertation was motivated by both personal and professional interest: A safeguard or a Barrier to Justice? The Abolition of Corroboration and the Implications of a Human Rights Based Approach to Scottish Criminal Justice. Commenting on receiving the award, Peter, a solicitor and Procurator Fiscal Depute, said: “I was told that I had won the prize on the day of my graduation. It all made for a fantastic day – I was delighted!” Peter’s dissertation was supervised by Dr. Hakeem Yusuf and he was awarded the LLM degree with Distinction.

Dr Elaine Webster, Director of the CSHRL, said: “I am very pleased that we have put in place this award to recognise the academic skill and dedication of our Masters students. Thanks are due to the generous support and encouragement of Taylor and Kelly, a Scottish firm renowned for its human rights work. Peter fought off tough competition – there were a number of dissertations with marks of 70% and above, and Peter’s dissertation received the highest mark out of this strong group. On behalf of the CSHRL, many congratulations to Peter on his achievement.”

LLM Human Rights Student Wins UN International Travel Award

Stephanie Abrahams, a LLM Human Rights in the Law School has  been awarded one of the UK’s six UN International Study Awards by the Gilbert Murray Trust through a very competitive process. The award will be used to partly fund her Field Dissertation studies in Guatemala, where she will conduct research on the Right to Water and its integration into the Guatemalan legal system.

The Gilbert Murray UN International Study Award seeks to promote the study of the purposes and work of the United Nations with the help of travel scholarships, support for participation in UN-related short courses, conferences and summer schools, help for small personal research projects involving travel, supporting work with international organizations, and new initiatives in funding research which will at once benefit from and promote international collaboration.

Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill: Dr Neal appointed to advisory role

Dr Mary Neal of Strathclyde Law School has been appointed as Adviser to the lead Parliamentary Committee scrutinising the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill. The Bill, which is currently before the Scottish Parliament, proposes to decriminalise assisted suicide for certain groups of patients. Dr Neal, whose research focuses on healthcare law and ethics, and particularly on beginning and end of life issues, will support the Health and Sport Committee when it comes to scrutinise the Bill in detail later in the year. Speaking about her advisory role Dr Neal said "I am looking forward to supporting the Committee in its important work on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill this year. The subject-matter of the Bill obviously raises very important questions of law, ethics and policy, the analysis of which will be a significant task for all involved in the Committee stage."

A call for written evidence has been issued and responses are invited until 6th June 2014. More detail about the Bill (including the text of the Bill and accompanying materials) can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/69604.aspx, and guidance on the submission of written evidence can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/74417.aspx."

Dr Yusuf signatory to open letter on humanitarian access in Syria

Dr Hakeem Yusuf is one of a group of international lawyers who have signed an open letter on the legality of UN cross-border humanitarian access in Syria. The letter can be found here and further details here.

New study to be undertaken by Professor Laura Piacentini

Congratulations to our colleague Laura Piacentini who has been awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship for a two-year study: ‘A Sociology of Rights Consciousness amongst Russian Prisoners’ . Professor Piacentini has recently been appointed a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Human rights explored by Supreme Court Justices as Lord Hope is honoured

On Friday 7th March, three Justices of the UK's highest court discussed human rights at an event being held in honour of former University of Strathclyde Chancellor and Emeritus Professor of the Law School, Lord Hope of Craighead.

Lord Neuberger, President of The Supreme Court, Lord Sumption and Lord Reed addressed the symposium in Strathclyde's Barony Hall, held in honour of Lord Hope of Craighead, whose distinguished career was reflected on at the event.

See main news story here.

New book published by Dr Hakeem Yusuf

Centre for the Study of Human Rights law member, Dr Hakeem Yusuf, publishes the first full-length analysis of the various dimensions of the peace, order and good government clause, found in the constitutions of almost all Commonwealth countries. The book, Colonial and Post-colonial Constitutionalism in the Commonwealth: Peace, Order and Good Government (Routledge, 2013), argues that the origins of the peace, order and good government clause mark it out as an anachronistic feature of British constitutionalism when set against a modern setting of human rights, liberty and democratisation. Dr Yusuf’s previous monograph, Transitional Justice, Judicial Accountability and the Rule of Law (Routledge, 2010) was shortlisted for the 2011 IALT Kevin Boyle Book Prize.

Burgess Memorial Lecture to be given by Prof. Dinah L. Shelton, 3rd October 2013

This year’s Annual Robert Burgess Memorial Lecture will be given by Professor Dinah L. Shelton, Professor of International Law at the George Washington University Law School, and Commissioner, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The lecture is entitled:Value Added: What Regional Human Rights Systems Contribute to the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.’ Further information can be found on our Events  page.

Forthcoming Research Project on Human Dignity and Nursing Education:

The aim of this pilot project is to assess how education around human dignity can be incorporated effectively in the nursing curriculum, with a specific focus on the care of the older adult in the context of co-produced health service models. The project, to commence in October 2013, will be funded by the Scottish Crucible Project Fund 2013, and carried out by Dr Elaine Webster , in collaboration with Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz (Health Research, University of the Highlands and Islands), Dr Leah Macaden and Dr Richard G. Kyle (Nursing Education, University of Stirling). For further information please contact Dr Webster.

LLM Human Rights Law Annual Dissertation Prize to Launch in 2014

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law will coordinate the award of an annual prize for the best dissertation by a student on the LLM in Human Rights Law. The award is sponsored by Taylor and Kelly solicitors. The author will be invited to attend the School of Law’s annual prize giving event. Further information on criteria and selection will be announced in due course.

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Centre For The Study of Human Rights Law
Law School, University of Strathclyde
Graham Hills Building, Level 7,
Glasgow, G1 1BA.

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