Human Rights Law Centre

Postcards

dominik drasnar

The ESR Unit has received another postcard!

It was sent by Dominik Drasnar, who studied an LLM Human Rights Law at the University of Nottingham in 2013/2014, awarded with Distinction.

Dominic is now working for the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe mission in Kosovo, where he focuses on issues affecting some of the most vulnerable communities in Kosovo: the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians.

To learn more about Dominik, read his postcard...

Warm greetings from Prishtinë/Priština!

Do you sometimes feel like you blink and an entire year goes by? As I’m writing this I’m realizing it has been nearly six years since I’ve finished my LLM in Human Rights Law at the University of Nottingham. Better still, more than a decade has passed since I first came to the city of Robin Hood, the Tram and Annie’s Burger Shack to start an LLB in Law.

After leaving Nottingham, I first headed off a few miles further North to Sheffield for a postgraduate diploma in Politics and to earn a modest living as a freelance interpreter. A year later, I was on a plane to start an internship with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo… and I’ve remained here since, barring a quick intermezzo as a trainee with the European Commission in Prague. No longer a fresh-faced intern, I’m now a grizzled veteran with a fancy title of a Senior Communities Adviser.

I got the chance to meld the three thematic areas I enjoyed the most during the LLM – minority rights, migration issues, and social and economic rights. Nowadays, I’m working mostly on issues affecting some of the most vulnerable communities in Kosovo: the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians. We have recently published a comprehensive overview of their situation, and now we are starting an internship scheme for university students and graduates from these three communities. By assigning interns to government institutions and providing them with training, we are hoping to enable them to obtain civil service jobs befitting their education and to show younger members of their communities that education can lead to tangible results.

My biggest achievement, however, came when I co-ordinated the Mission’s response to an imminent humanitarian catastrophe at a social housing building in a village called Plemetina/Plemetin, in Obiliq/Obilić municipality. A fire incident and strong winds had destroyed the roof of the object, leaving the impoverished Roma and Ashkali residents, including many children, exposed to the elements, with winter just around the corner. Together with several partners, we managed to have a new roof installed before the snow and frost arrived in full form.

Human rights, and especially the socio-economic rights of marginalized groups, remain a key focus of my professional endeavours. Lately, I have been toying with the idea of returning to the academic world to pursue a PhD on some of the issues I have engaged with in my career as a practitioner. Now, let’s see how that works out – I’ll certainly keep you posted!

 

Fife ESR Unit

The ESR Unit has received another postcard!

It was sent by Fife Ogunde, who studied an LLM Human Rights Law at the University of Nottingham in 2013/2014 and also completed his doctorate degree at the University and was awarded a PhD in Law in 2018.

During his time at Nottingham, Fife presented research papers at various academic conferences including the Annual Student Conference organised by the Human Rights Law Conference. 

To learn more about Fife, read his postcard...

Greetings from Western Canada! My name is Fife Ogunde. I studied for an LLM in Human Rights Law programme at the University of Nottingham in the 2013/2014 session. I also completed my doctorate degree programme at the University and was awarded a PhD in Law in 2018.

During my time at Nottingham, I presented research papers focusing on different areas of human rights law at various academic conferences including the Annual Student Conference organized by the Human Rights Law Conference.

What have I been up to since leaving Nottingham? A bit actually. Let’s start with the academic part. I have worked as a Visiting Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham. At the moment, I am a regional coordinator for the Digest of State practice, Journal on the Use of Force in international law where along with other researchers, I observe developments relating to prohibition of the use of force in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, my most significant project(s) (in my view at least) have been those undertaken to develop the human rights ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly my home country Nigeria. I am a regular contributor on different writing platforms connected with Africa and Nigeria, providing insight into the connections between human rights law and economic development. Some of my featured contribution centre on ‘Wages and Salaries in Nigeria: A human rights issue' and 'The argument for constitutional recognition of economic and social rights in Nigeria'.

What else? In February 2019, I founded the African Researchers Network, a group devoted to establishing a research culture in Africa’s professional and academic landscape. Although the network is still in its infancy, we are already building useful collaborations with NGOs in Nigeria and leading private sector professionals. The primary aim of the network is to produce world-leading research that can influence public policy, aid the development of private sector professionals and educate students areas such as education, public health and child development. ARN is already working on a few projects and hopefully I will be able to share a progress report in the next postcard!

 
 

Samrah Mian2

The ESR Unit has received another postcard!

It was sent by Samrah Mian who completed her LLM at the University of Nottingham, having focused extensively on ESR during her studies.

During her time at Nottingham, Samrah was elected as a student representative and acted as vice president of the LLM Society. She also volunteered with the Human Rights Law Centre.

To learn more about Samrah, read her postcard...

Hello from Vancouver, Canada!

It has been four years since I finished up at Nottingham and I've recently begun working as the intake coordinator for Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS). Our organisation was founded in 1971 as the first community law office assisting low-income individuals in the province of British Columbia. Since then, we have helped thousands of people with direct services and have conducted hundreds of test cases at all levels of court.

The organisation's recent work includes lobbying on behalf of vulnerable tenants in the city of Vancouver, intervening in a human rights complaint concerning workplace discrimination at the Supreme Court of Canada, the repeal of discriminatory income assistance policies and challenging the validity of forced psychiatric treatments under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In my role, I help people with legal issues surrounding their housing, income security, employment, mental health and human rights. I'm privileged to work with a network of inspirational advocates across the province who assist low-income individuals facing homelessness, gender-based discrimination, and other poverty law problems. I also sit on the City of Vancouver's Renters Advisory Committee, where I am able to advise the city council on issues relating to low-income renters.

In addition to my work with CLAS, I work as an advocate with North Shore Crisis Services and volunteer in a legal clinic run by Battered Women's Support Services. Both organisations provide crucial services and support for women facing violence and poverty.

My LLM dissertation focused on housing insecurity and its effects on minority women in Canada, and I feel privileged to be doing work that is a direct extension of my studies. My first four years since graduation have been tremendously rewarding and I look forward to the opportunities ahead.

 

Sanyu Awori

 The ESR Unit has received its first postcard from overseas!

It was sent by Sanyu Awori who completed both her LLB and LLM in Human Rights Law at The University of Nottingham. During her studies Sanyu had close links with HRLC, helping to organise one of the annual student human rights conferences and also working as a researcher for ESR Unit former joint head, Professor Thérèse Murphy.

Sanyu has recently taken up a position with International Women's Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific, where she is working alongside another Nottingham alumna, Audrey Lee (LLB 1996).

To learn more about Sanyu, read her postcard...

Hello from warm and sunny Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

Eight weeks into my move to Malaysia and I feel settled. My work at the International Women's Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) is going really well.

IWRAW Asia Pacific works with women's groups to draw accountability from governments on the domestic implementation of human rights standards. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the primary standard we use to advocate for gender equality. We also rely on other international treaties and norms to promote women's human rights.

In fact, let me tell you quickly about one of our campaigns:

IWRAW Asia Pacific is part of a campaign that advocates for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

This goes hand in hand with our global campaign to get the Optional Protocol to CEDAW widely adopted by States. These frameworks are complementary and a way to hold States accountable to issues affecting women.

We know that human rights are interdependent, indivisible and interrelated; and women's rights are underpinned by the realisation of economic and social rights. We are therefore working to highlight the synergy between these two treaties.

Working primarily in the Global South, we know that achieving gender equality is undeniably linked to the protection of economic and social rights. The Optional Protocol to ICESCR is a critical mechanism to ensure that women have access to justice for violations of their economic and social rights. It is a key way to implement human rights standards and make gender equality across all spheres a reality for many.

Also, some good news: we've just published a primer on CEDAW and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is called The Business of Women's Human Rights, and is a great tool that you should definitely check out! It helps break down the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and also shows the linkages to CEDAW, including the economic and social rights protected by means of that instrument.

Till next time.

 
 

warwick-ben-web

The ESR Unit has received another postcard!

It was sent by Ben Warwick who recently spent a year in the School of Law here at The University of Nottingham studying for a masters in human rights law. During that year Ben also worked closely with the staff at HRLC to co-organise the 2013 Annual Student Conference (with a video appearance from Navi Pillay), and received a bursary that allowed him to be part of an intensive week-long summer school on children's rights. We were delighted to welcome him back to Nottingham in November 2013, when he joined us for the launch of the ESR Unit.

To learn more about Ben, read his postcard...

Greetings from Durham, where I recently began work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Law School. My role involves teaching (that's clear from the title!) and also researching and writing a PhD. I'm very excited to be doing my PhD in the field of economic and social rights. My focus is the appropriate use of resources in realising these rights and a large part of the work will centre around the prohibition on retrogressive measures doctrine.

Over the next months I will be beginning case study research with stakeholders. The research is intended to feed into, and inform, the debates that currently surround austerity and human rights. I also have smaller research projects ongoing on foodbanks in the UK and the implications for the right to food, and on the regulation of sexist music. I'm looking forward to giving papers in both these areas in the near future.

Part of my interest in economic and social rights is their applicability to the 'real world', so it has been great to work with a small NGO called Restless Beings. The organisation has a specific focus on international human rights and the relationship has been so productive that I intend to build similar connections in the future.

It certainly seems like a good time to be an ESR lawyer, with communities and initiatives developing across the country. As a Twitter fan (@btcwarwick) it has also been excellent to see human rights academics and advocates from across the world connect in the ether. It's great that the ESR Unit can continue these positive trends.

 

Dr Ilke Turkmendag-web

In early 2014 the ESR Unit received its first postcard.

It was sent by Dr Ilke Turkmendag. Ilke came to Nottingham to do her PhD with both then ESR Unit joint head Professor Thérèse Murphy and Professor Robert Dingwall, then director of the Institute for Science and Society.

She's a sociologist with a particular interest in reproductive technologies and a growing interest in rights.

To learn more about Ilke, read her postcard...

Greetings from Sheffield University in the UK! Yes, that's right, I am on the move. I have just been appointed as Research Associate in the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield University, where I will be working with Professor Paul Martin, who spent many years at Nottingham in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. I'll still be in the North, but not quite so far north as Newcastle where I've been a post-doc at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre since 2010.

I'm looking forward to lots of new challenges and opportunities; I'm also really looking forward to being closer to the ESR Unit at the HRLC! It's great to know I am just 'down the road' from the Unit co-directors: Professor Thérèse Murphy co-supervised my PhD at Nottingham and she has been acting as my mentor ever since. Both she and Professor Aoife Nolan were really important last year when The University of Nottingham decided to put me forward for a national competition. I find out the results this summer: fingers crossed!

Lots of people I meet still wonder what human rights have got to do with my work. I think I am getting quite good at explaining it! I try to say something like this:

  • Yes, I am a socio-legal scholar (more 'sociological' than 'legal' but I'm working on the balance!) I focus on the sociology of life sciences and in particular the socio-legal aspects of human reproduction technologies.
  • In my doctoral work I looked at the removal of donor anonymity from gamete donors in the UK and the social implications of the new law. My interviews with donor-conception parents are an important source of data on voices that were not fully heard in the public debates around the need for a 'right to know'. They help us to understand, for example, why some opt for cross-border treatment to avoid the new law.
  • More generally, I think my work contributes to human rights thinking in three ways: to the sociology of rights (given that it examines both rights as law and rights as a mode of thinking, talking and claims-making); to the question of socio-legal method as a human rights method; and to particular areas of human rights law and practice, notably children's rights and new health technologies and human rights.

Next time we meet you must tell me what you think of my explanation! Maybe I should organise an event for sceptics...

Hoscakalin (that's how we say 'goodbye' in Turkish, my native language).

 

 

 

 

Human Rights Law Centre

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

+44 (0)115 846 8506
hrlc@nottingham.ac.uk