Human Rights Law Centre

Annual Student Conference


Annual Student Human Rights Conference 2016. UN Human Rights Council: 10 Years On. Saturday 5 March 2016

Human Rights is one of the three pillars of the work of the United Nations (UN) and its recognition has gained momentum since the inception of the Human Rights Council (the Council) nearly ten years ago. Despite a number of notable successes, the Council has not been without criticism during its short existence. The Council’s ten-year anniversary in 2016 will differ from its five-year anniversary, as there will be no formal review of its work. This creates an excellent opportunity to assess the Council’s key successes whilst recognising and discussing its shortcomings.

This year’s Conference will examine the achievements and failures of the UN Human Rights Council within the context of the UN human rights system as a whole. Keynote speakers with experience in NGOs, UN institutions, and academia will present their various insights on the Council and the human rights system. In conjunction with student panellists, pertinent questions will be examined. Why are so many resolutions directed at developing nations rather than developed nations? Is the strong rhetoric of the Council matched by action? Are Member States avoiding key human rights issues through political tactics? Is the Council really an improvement upon the United Nations Commission on Human Rights?

We are pleased to announce this year's keynote speakers:

  • Mr Karim Ghezraoui, Chief Officer a.i., Special Procedures Branch, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
  • Dr Rosa Freedman, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham;
  • Ms Aoife Hegarty, Programme Manager at Universal Periodic Review Info, Geneva;
  • Ms Lucy Richardson, PhD Candidate at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and former member of the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the UN.

In the morning, Dr Feedman and Mr Ghezraoui will give a general overview of the Council. Dr Freedman will offer an academic perspective of the Council's achievements so far and the challenges ahead, while Mr Ghezraoui's address will focus on the workings of the special procedures from a practitioner's perspective. In the afternoon, Ms Richardson and Ms Hegarty will turn to another tool of the Council, namely the universal periodic review (UPR), reviewing it from a government and an NGO perspective respectively.

In addition to the plenary sessions, there will be four Student Panels. In the morning, conference participants can choose between:

  • Panel 1: The political dynamics of the Council: a continuing legacy of the Commission?
  • Panel 2: Case studies: UN human rights principles in action

and in the afternoon, the two concurring panels will be:

  • Panel 3: From margin to centre: reporting mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review
  • Panel 4: Human rights and vulnerable groups: challenges for the UN

The full programme can be found here. More information is also available on the event's Facebook page and Twitter via #StuConf16.

Tickets are available for purchase at the UoN Online Store. A discounted early bird rate is being offered until Saturday 27 February 2016.

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