Dr Elaine Webster

Senior Lecturer


Personal statement

I have taught human rights law on classes across the undergraduate LLB curriculum and at postgraduate level. My research interests lie in the field of European and international human rights law, supra-national judicial interpretation of human rights and non-judicial interpretation at the national level. I am particularly interested in the protective human rights obligations of states and the concept of human dignity in human rights law. I completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2010, where I held an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award. 

I lead the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law, which is a focal point for staff and student engagement in human rights law research and teaching. I am Programme Leader for the PgCert/PgDip/LLM Human Rights Law. 

I am the Law School's Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. 

I am currently the Executive Secretary of the Association of Human Rights Institutes (since 2017), a member of the British Medical Association's Human Rights Working Group, and a member of the Scottish Human Rights Commission's Research Advisory Group. 

I have been an Erasmus visiting teacher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and have spent time at the Institute for Human Rights and Critical Studies at KU Leuven in Belgium, as a Royal Society of Edinburgh/Caledonian Research Foundation European Visiting Fellow. 

I have an interest in curriculum design and assessment and feedback practices. I am undertaking a PG Diploma in Advanced Academic Studies. I also have in interest in public engagement and participatory research.

I speak fluent French. 


Has expertise in:

    • The prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment
    • European human rights law
    • Human dignity in human rights law
    • Interpretation of human rights, including by civil society
    • Human dignity and human rights education
    • Human rights protection in Scotland and the UK
    • Human rights-based approaches, including in healthcare
    • Human rights interpretation and interactions in the environmental governance context


I studied Law and French Language (LLB Hons) at the University of Glasgow, International Politics (MA) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Human Rights and Democratisation (MA) at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights, Venice, Italy/Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. In 2010, I was awarded a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. 


Strip searches through the lens of the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment in European human rights law
Mavronicola Natasa, Webster Elaine
Body Searches and Incarceration Human Standards vs Institutional Efficiency (2022) (2022)
Can talking about 'dignity' support the growth of human tights culture?
Webster Elaine
Human Rights Strategies (2022) (2022)
A human rights law perspective on sensory experience and dignity in detention
Webster Elaine, Mavronicola Natasa
Dignity as the underpinning value of human rights
Webster Elaine
"I Know It When I See It" : Can Talking About 'Dignity' Support the Growth of a Human Rights Culture? [Final Report]
Webster Elaine
"I Know It When I See It" : Can Talking About 'Dignity' Support the Growth of a Human Rights Culture? [Briefing Paper]
Webster Elaine

More publications


I have taught human rights law and public law across undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. I am the module leader for Human Rights Law in Theory and Practice at Honours level, and for European Human Rights Law on the LLM in Human Rights Law. 

Research interests

My research focuses on human rights interpretation.

My core research focuses on interpretation of the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. I am interested in all aspects of this right, including cultural dimensions and its application in the socio-economic sphere. I have written a monograph entitled Dignity, Degrading Treatment and Torture in Human Rights Law: The Ends of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights

I have interests in the right to human rights education, and the concept of human dignity in human rights education. Recent and on-going projects consider human rights and human dignity as understood by student teachers and student nurses.

I also have interests in the environmental governance context, including the use and impact of human rights interpretation by different actors, and in the relationship between the right to a healthy environment and the concept of human dignity. I am currently a co-investigator on the UKRI funded One Ocean Hub

Professional activities

Strip Searches, Body Scanning, and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Designing a New Capacity Building Approach in Response to Human Rights Innovation in Scotland
The prohibition of degrading treatment in human rights law: From interpretation to implementation across international and local scales
Body Searches through the Lens of Inhuman and Degrading Treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Invited speaker
Dignity and the Incorporation Bill
Closing Panel Discussant

More professional activities


'Human Dignity' and Local Engagement with International Human Rights Law
Webster, Elaine (Principal Investigator)
15-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2021
Accountability and the Implementation of Self-Directed Support: Complaints, redress, and human rights principles in practice
Jack, Douglas (Academic) Webster, Elaine (Academic) Gittens, Charmaine (Research Co-investigator)
16-Jan-2019 - 29-Jan-2021
Dignity Engagement Space for Nurse Education using a Human Rights based Approach - DESNEHRA
Webster, Elaine (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2022
GCRF One Ocean Hub
Morgera, Elisa (Principal Investigator) Baum, Thomas (Co-investigator) Cathcart, Alison (Co-investigator) Clark, Bryan (Co-investigator) Da Lomba, Sylvie (Co-investigator) Heath, Mike (Co-investigator) Revie, Matthew (Co-investigator) Sindico, Francesco (Co-investigator) Switzer, Stephanie (Co-investigator) Vermeylen, Saskia (Co-investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator)
13-Jan-2019 - 12-Jan-2024
Putting it into action together extension
Quinn, Neil (Principal Investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2023
Legislative Study on the Right to Water for Food and Agriculture
Switzer, Stephanie (Researcher) Morgera, Elisa (Principal Investigator) Vermeylen, Saskia (Co-investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator) Sindico, Francesco (Co-investigator)
Legislative Study on the Right to Water for Food and Agriculture - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
10-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2018

More projects