Dr Elaine Webster




Personal statement

My research interests lie in the field of European and international human rights law interpetation by judicial and non-judicial actors, including at local levels. 

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, and Senior Academic Mentor for the Strathclyde Centre for Doctoral Training in Human Rights-based Decision Making.

I am the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Associate Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. 

From 2017-2023, I was the elected Executive Secretary of the global Association of Human Rights Institutes. 

I have been a member of the British Medical Association's Human Rights Working Group, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission's Research Advisory Group. I was a member of the Academic Advisory Panel to the National Taskforce on Human Rights Leadership in Scotland, and am currently a member of the Scottish Government's Core Working Group on Human Rights Implementation. 

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 particular interests in participatory and arts-based research, public engagement, and assessment and feedback practices. 

I speak fluent French. 

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Area of Expertise

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


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, where I held an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award. 

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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. 

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Research Interests

My research focuses on human rights law interpretation and implementation by a range of actors, at international and local levels.

A key strand of my research focuses on interpretation of the right not to be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment by judicial bodies and other actors. I am interested in all aspects of this right, including its understanding and implementation in diverse fields of application, such as in the socio-economic sphere, and in other areas of international law, such as in international humanitarian law. 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

A second strand of my research focuses on human rights interpretation by a range of actors in the environmental governance context. I am currently a co-investigator on the UKRI funded One Ocean Hub. I am also intersted in the relationship between the right to a healthy environment and the concept of human dignity. 

A cross-cutting theme relates to the meaning and interpretive impact of the principle of respect for human dignity, at the level of theory but also practice. This includes an interest in the connection between respect for dignity and interpetation of economic, social and cultural rights; I have undertaken research on the rights to health, water, housing, and participation in cultural life. Past and on-going projects also consider human rights and human dignity as understood by student teachers and student nurses. 

Other cross-cutting themes relate to creative pedagogies in human rights, human digntiy, and legal education, and in methodologies of human rights research. 

Professional Activities

Strengthening Civil Society Impact on Westminster in the Years Ahead
Human Rights Consortium Scotland #AllOurRightsinLaw: Civil society voices on Scotland’s new human rights law
Human Rights Legal Consciousness and Prospects for the Implementation of International Law: Insights from Scottish civil society
European Human Rights Law Review (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Human rights incorporation: Academic roundtable with Scottish Government Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees
MOOC: Human Rights-based Approach to Dignity in Care (DIGNISPACE)
To be assigned

More professional activities


Strathclyde Centre for Doctoral Training in Human Rights-based Decision-Making
Harkens, Adam (Co-investigator) Miyake, Esperanza (Co-investigator) Nicol, Emma (Co-investigator) Ntona, Maria (Co-investigator) Schippers, Birgit (Co-investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2027
'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) Laverick, Jack (Researcher)
13-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2024
Putting it into action together extension
Quinn, Neil (Principal Investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2024

More projects

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Dr Elaine Webster

Email: elaine.webster@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 548 4428