Human Rights Law Centre


As part of its commitment to promote and strenghten human rights worlwide and in order to enrich students' experience, the Human Rights Law Centre regularly hosts lectures by leading experts and practitioners. Students are encouraged to attend those events, where they can learn from and engage with experienced human rights practitioners. Please explore below to find out more about these special events. 

Upcoming Lectures:


Laura Bloom, ReprieveNo Charge, No Trial, No Exit: An update on indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay

A2 Law and Social Science Building - Monday 4th March 2019 (14:00-15:00)




marion oswald

Marion Oswald delivered a guest lecture on the potential impacts of non-human decision making in the criminal justice system

Marion Oswald, founder and director of the Centre for Information Rights and a Senior Fellow in Law at the University of Winchester, visited Nottingham on Wednesday 5 December 2018 to deliver a guest lecture on Old laws for new (algorithmic) tricks: How administrative law can guide our algorithm-assisted future.

As algorithms are starting to be used in the criminal justice process, Marion’s talk explored the potential impacts of non-human decision making and the strengths and weaknesses (exampled by a computers' inability to differentiate between a Chihuahua and a muffin!) of such processes.

Marion is a solicitor (non-practising), with previous experience in legal management roles within private practice, international companies and UK central government including national security. She has worked extensively in the fields of data protection, freedom of information and information technology, having advised on a number of information technology implementations, data sharing projects and statutory reforms. She publishes and speaks on the interaction between law and digital technology and has a particular interest in the use of information and innovative technology by the public sector.

Veronika Fikfak

Dr Veronika Fikfak delivered a guest lecture on Just Satisfaction Before the European Court of Human Rights

Dr Veronika Fikfak, Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Homerton College, visited Nottingham on Wednesday 24 October 2018 to deliver a guest lecture on Just Satisfaction Before the European Court of Human Rights.

When individuals are mistreated by European governments, the European Court of Human Rights can review state actions under the European Convention of Human Rights. If the individuals are successful in proving a violation, the ECtHR may award them damages for the treatment suffered. Yet the Court sets out no rules or guidelines as to when individuals are likely to get compensation; it does not explain which elements of their treatment are most relevant for damage purposes nor how much applicants should ask for. To many practitioners, the current practice of the Court appears arbitrary and opaque.

Dr Fikfak’s research looks at how the ECtHR awards damages when it comes to non-financial losses: how does the Court translate the pain and suffering of an applicant into euros? Does the Court focus on the victims? On the right violated? Are damages all about the state? Dr Fikfak and her team have analysed 12,000 cases delivered over 15 years. Her findings show that when it comes to awarding compensation, victims are irrelevant. In fact, the ECtHR rather focuses on the right violated and on the state. Her research reveals that there is a hierarchy between rights. Compensation is driven by the conduct adopted by states, with different amounts granted for each kind of behaviour under each article. For example, torture is valued at a higher level than inhuman or degrading treatment and violations of procedural rights are more valued than those of substantive rights. Finally, Dr Fikfak evidenced that the state was far more important than the victims, when determining damages. Judges are motivated by compliance and therefore the Court should be treating cases differently according to the offending state. Rich countries pay more than other countries for the same violation; and, except for torture, judges reduce the amounts of compensation the more often a violation happens, in order to encourage compliance.

Dr Fikfak holds a Magister Juris, an M.Phil and a D.Phil from the University of Oxford. She previously worked at the International Court of Justice, the Law Commission of England and Wales, the European Court of Human Rights and at the UN in Paris. Her work focuses on the interaction of domestic and international law. In her human rights research, she uses statistical methods to uncover new knowledge about the practice of human rights bodies,. She was recently awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant to study how we can change state behaviour when it comes to human rights.



Judge Spano, Judge of the European Court of Human Rights from Iceland, delivered a lecture on Terrorism and the European Convention on Human Rights

On 10 March 2017, Judge Robert Spano, Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, from Iceland, delivered a lecture on Terrorism and the European Convention on Human Rights. He discussed how the Court is balancing issues of terrorism and fundamental rights guarantees, with particular reference to its judgement in Ibrahim and Others v United Kingdom and the implications of Article 6 in regard to terrorism.

He argued that, while Article 6 allows leeway to governments for putting restrictions in place, it does not and should not allow for the normalisation of those measures: “the longer these terrorist measures persist, the easier it will be for society to accept them as normal and the more measures will be used to restrict human rights guarantees in the future”.

View a  full report of the lecture by Naina Pagarani, former UoN Law student.


Combating Gender-based Violence: a Nottingham approach

On 6 December 2016, HRLC, in support of the 16 Day of Activism against Gender-based Violence (GBV) and of Nottingham-based charity  Equation, organised a panel discussion on GBV to raise awareness about the issue and the effect changing policies have on victims.

The panel was chaired by  Professor Aoife Nolan, Head of HRLC's Economic and Social Rights Unit. Speakers on the panel were:

- Ms Jane Lewis - Community Safety Strategy Manager (Domestic and Sexual Violence Strategic Lead), Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership

Dr Julie McGarry - Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Chair of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Integrated Research Group

- Dr Lyndsey Harris - Assistant Professor in Criminology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Expert on survivors of abuse with complex needs

Ms Lewis introduced the concept of gender-based violence and addressed relevant UK legislation and policy. In terms of GBV locally, she stated that reporting data shows that only 40% of survivors report GBV and there are approximately 14,000 perpetrators in Nottingham. Dr McGarry focused on examining responses to domestic violence and abuse by professionals in healthcare settings. She explained that there is still work to be done in educating health care professionals about the complexities related to GBV victims and in developing the infrastructure that supports identification and management of GBV. Finally, Dr Harris presented her research on survivors of domestic and sexual violence with complex needs and outlined the specific barriers for these particular survivors to access support.

The 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign aims to raise awareness of and speak out against violence against women and girls around the world to effect change.

View the full report of the panel discussion



Professor Sarah Joseph, Sport: Its Human Rights Implications

On 26 October 2016, Professor Sarah Joseph, Professor of Law at Monash University and Director of its Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, delivered a lecture on Sport: Its Human Rights Implications.

Professor Joseph began by outlining the positive role for change that sport can play in the political sphere and how, over the years, it has been a powerful tool used to advance civil rights movements and to bring about political change. From the famous black power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics to the use of a sporting boycott against apartheid South Africa.

Sport, however, can also have a negative impact on human rights. For example, athletes' ability to access certain rights, including a whole host of labour rights, the right to health and due process rights when submitting to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), is severely restricted Moreover, there are numerous examples of discriminatory practices in the sporting world and of negative human rights impacts of large scale sporting events, such as the Olympics or the FIFA world cup.


Bratza_first edit

Series: Sir Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Honorary Professor at the School of Law (2014-2017) 

Sir Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Honorary Professor at the School of Law (2014-2017) gave a series of talk on the relationship between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights. 

On 7 March 2016, Sir Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Honorary Professor at the School of Law, delivered a seminar, Dialogue or Deference? The Relationship between the UK and Strasbourg Courts.

During the seminar Sir Nicolas considered whether, and then how, the ECtHR and UK domestic courts have influenced each other. Sir Nicolas concluded that strengthening the dialogue between UK courts and the ECtHR will continue to strengthen human rights protection in the UK.

View a  full report of the seminar.


Sir Nicolas Bratza recently retired from his post as President of the European Court of Human Rights, where he had served as the judge of the Court elected in respect of the United Kingdom for 14 years. From 1994-1998 he was the United Kingdom Member of the European Commission of Human Rights. Sir Nicolas was in private practice at the Bar of England and Wales until 1998, specialising in commercial law, public law and human rights law. He appeared as Counsel in numerous cases before the former European Commission and European Court of Human Rights from 1970 until 1993. In 1998 Sir Nicolas was appointed a judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division.   

On Monday 2 March 2015, Sir Nicolas Bratza, Chairman of the International Advisory Panel on Ukraine and Honorary Professor at the School of Law, delivered a seminar entitled 'The Human Rights Landscape in the United Kingdom. Is there really a case for change?'

During the seminar Sir Nicolas discussed the proposals put forward by the Conservative Party for changing Britain's human rights laws. He went on to outline and respond to a number of criticisms of the current system for the protection of human rights in the UK. In doing so, Sir Nicolas sought to dispel a number of misconceptions about the European human rights regime.

Sir Nicolas concluded by expressing concern that if the UK were to withdraw from the European Convention system a dangerous precedent could be set which would pose a significant threat to the whole European system of human rights.

A full  report of proceedings is now available.

On 12 March 2014, Sir Nicolas Bratza delivered a lunchtime seminar in response to recent criticism of the role of the European Court of Human Rights voiced by members of the UK judiciary.

Senior British judges have publicly criticised the role of the Strasbourg Court, attacking the relationship between the UK and the European Convention. Sir Nicolas provided an overview of the lectures delivered by  LJ Laws Second Hamlyn Lecture (27 November 2013),  Lord Sumption at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture in Kuala Lumpur (30 November 2013),  Lord Judge at University College London (4 December 2013),  Lord Mance at the World Policy Conference, Monaco (14 December 2013) and  Lord Neuberger at the Cambridge Freshfields Annual Lecture (12 February 2014).

In the past, such criticism of the Strasbourg Court came principally from the media and politicians; this recent shift to judicial condemnation is surprising. Sir Nicolas contextualised this shift by placing it within the widespread media coverage and the political campaign to denigrate the Strasbourg Court and the Convention system overall in the run up to the general election in 2015.

Sir Nicolas outlined the potential impact of judicial reluctance to submit to the Strasbourg Court's case law despite the broad requirement for British judges to "take into account" case law. He also explained the principal area of contention between supporters and opponents of the Strasbourg Court: the development of the "living instrument" doctrine.

Sir Nicolas surmised that the current rhetoric and discourse - both political and judicial - reflected in the media, is potentially detrimental to the future of the Human Rights Act and the United Kingdom's continued membership of the Convention system. The precarious nature of the UK’s position is two-fold with the potential repeal of the Human Rights Act and the introduction of a Bill of Rights but also the withdrawal from the Convention.

Sir Nicolas stated:

"The consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom would in my view not only be potentially serious for the protection of human rights here but disastrous for the future of the Convention system as a whole, to which it would do incalculable damage."

The address by Sir Nicolas was followed by a discussion with School of Law staff and postgraduate students.  Read the full text of Sir Nicolas' address.


Barriers to abolition

Barriers to Abolition: A Global Perspective on the Death Penalty

On 22 October 2015, HRLC was pleased to host an expert panel discussion of the remaining barriers to ending the use of the death penalty worldwide. The panel was chaired by Professor Dominic McGoldrick, HRLC Co-Director. He was joined on the panel by:

- Professor Carolyn Hoyle, University of Oxford and Director of its Centre for Criminology

- Professor Jon Yorke, Birmingham City University and member of the FCO Death Penalty Advisory Group

- Mr Abdul Rashid Ismail, practising lawyer in Malaysia and former President of the Malaysian National Human Rights Society

- Dr Bharat Malkani, University of Birmingham and Co-ordinator of the Birmingham Law School's Pro Bono group

Professor Hoyle opened the proceedings by outlining her work on the use of the death penalty in China. Professor Hoyle expressed her concern that China remains, by a significant margin, the world's number one executor and information on the use of the death penalty is a state secret. Despite this, she went on to note a number of steps which had been taken: the decline in the number of executions and significant reforms made to the criminal process over the last 10 years, including the changes introduced in 2011 which reduced the number of crimes that carry a death sentence.

Professor Yorke further discussed a number of issues in relation to Islamic law and the death penalty.  He began by the outlining the different categories of crimes that carry the death penalty under sharia law and their theological origins.  He explained that tazir offences, unlike zina (sexual immorality) and huddud (crimes against god) which have punishments prescribed in the Quran and the Hadith, fall outside theological reason and are thus easier to be viewed through a human rights lens. Professor Yorke concluded his presentation by highlighting the progressive reasoning used by Sudanese judges in the case of Miriam Ibrahim and noted that there is scope for an interpretation of Islamic principles that moves away from the use of the death penalty.

Mr Ismail followed with an overview of the use of the death penalty in Malaysia, highlighting a number of concerning practices, including the existence of a mandatory death sentence for a number of crimes including some drug offences.

Dr Malkani closed proceedings by discussing the use of the death penalty in the United States. He too noted a number of positive developments, such as the decline in the nunber of death sentences over the last 15 years and the abolition of its use across eight states in the last seven years. He also remarked that public opposition to the death penalty is at an all-time high and that moves towards abolition are supported by high profile individuals, such as Justice Scalia, who publicly announced that he would not be surprised if the Supreme Court found the death penalty unconstitutional. Dr Malkani submitted that barriers to abolition in the US do not relate to crime and punishment, but to culture. He pointed out the strong links between use of the death penalty and racial inequality in the US: the use of the death penalty was revived after the abolition of slavery following the American Civil War. In addition, a death sentence is far more likely for the murder of a white person that that of a black person.



Sheila B. Keetharuth, UN Special Rapporteur, Human Rights in Eritrea

On 8 October 2015, the Human Rights Law Centre was pleased to host Ms Sheila B. Keetharuth, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.  

At the request of Ms Keetharuth, HRLC convened a Roundtable discussion on human rights perspectives of the situation of unaccompanied minors. The Roundtable was chaired by Professor Dominic McGoldrick, HRLC Co-Director and Professor of International Human Rights Law. 

After the Roundtable Ms Keetharuth delivered a talk to University of Nottingham students detailing her mandate and giving an overview of the human rights situation in Eritrea. 

Roundtable contributors were: 

- Professor  Ralph Sandland, Professor of Law and Difference, University of Nottingham, who spoke on Human Rights Standards and their Application In Respect of Unaccompanied Minors

- Dr   Vanessa Pupavac, Associate Professor University of Nottingham, who spoke on Open Borders Approach v Human Rights/Human Trafficking Approach: The Protection of the Rights of Minors

- Ms  Laura Wills, HRLC Research Assistant, who spoke on Safeguarding Unaccompanied Minors

- Dr Roda Madziva, Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, who spoke on The Effects of Temporary Status for Unaccompanied Minors

- Ms Alison Birch, Founder of After18, who spoke on Growing up in the UK only to be threatened with removal at 18 and Young Eritreans' Perception of the Likely Reception Arrangements in Europe

- Ms Sara P.Arapiles, Asylum Support Worker Rainbow Project, who spoke on Changes to UK Country Guidance on Eritrea

In her third report to the UN Human Rights Council,  Ms Keetharuth highlighted her concerns regarding the growing number of unaccompanied Eritrean minors leaving the country. The extremely dangerous journeys undertaken by these children on the road to safety, as well as the long term effects of the traumatic incidents encountered along the way, are a major concern. The Report also notes the particular risk of trafficking faced by these children with their enhanced vulnerability and their need to rely on and trust smugglers in order to make their journeys.   

The common route taken by migrants from Eritrea is through the desert to North Africa and then across the Mediterranean, entering Europe via Italy or Greece before continuing onwards to northern Europe. In light of the many traumatic experiences endured by these children, both in Eritrea and en route to Europe, it is vital that reception arrangements in receiving countries prioritise the best interests of the child over other considerations such a border control.



IS Crisis Poster

The Islamic State Crisis

On 25 November 2014, HRLC and the Nottingham International Law and Security Centre (NILSC) presented an informal panel discussion on the Islamic State Crisis.

The panellists, Professor Nigel White, Dr Marko Milanovic, Dr Aris Georgopoulos and Professor Dominic McGoldrick, addressed various legal issues arising from the Islamic State crisis, including:

  • the legality of the use of force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria under UK and international law
  • international responses to problems posed by foreign terrorist fighters



Keith Raynor, Transitional Justice - Prosecuting Former Senior Leaders of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia

On 14 November 2014 HRLC welcomed Mr  Keith Raynor - Senior Advocate with the Public Defender Service in the UK Ministry of Justice - to deliver a seminar on Transitional Justice - Prosecuting Former Senior Leaders of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

In his hour-long seminar, Keith discussed the structure of the ECCC within the context of transitional justice mechanisms employed in Cambodia. Following an extensive overview of the structure and policies of the Khmer Rouge regime - including profiles of the accused indicted by the tribunal - Keith discussed the establishment, jurisdiction and applicable law of the ECCC. In particular, he noted the extensive role played by the co-investigating judges and civil party lawyers in the proceedings, which are largely based on a French civil law model.

The talk was chaired by Professor David Harris, HRLC Co-Director.

From May 2012 until June 2014, Keith worked for the  United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT) as a Senior Assistant Prosecutor within the  Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). At the ECCC, Keith was part of a team of international and Cambodian prosecutors trying former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  While in Cambodia, Keith also provided Rule of Law training to personnel within the Cambodian domestic criminal justice system.

Since 2004, Keith has been a Recorder of the Crown Court in England and Wales, hearing cases on the Midland Circuit. With more than 20 years' experience as an advocate in criminal law cases, having represented both the prosecution and the defence, Keith has appeared as leading counsel and counsel alone in many complex cases and has appeared regularly in the Court of Appeal.  He is also admitted to the List of Counsel at the International Criminal Court.





Human Rights Law Centre

School of Law
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

+44 (0)115 846 8506