Human Rights Law Centre


The Human Rights Law Centre conducts leading research in the field of human rights. HRLC staff and HRLC members offer leading expertise in a variety of research areas relevant to human rights.

HRLC is open to forming research partnerships with individuals and institutions across Europe and beyond, either in response to calls for proposals or on a long-term basis. Current and recent high-profile research projects include: 

  • data collection and research services on fundamental rights issues in the UK for the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
  • the Forced Migration Unit's Policy Brief Series, discussing the nexus between EU development policies and EU migration policies, and their broader legal and political implications
  • the design, creation and maintenance of the National Implementing Legislation Database (NILD) of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, a tool within the ICC Legal Tools project
  • the design, creation and maintenance of the Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD), an add-on to NILD developed within the Case Matrix Network Knowledge Hub


The Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

execution judgements

Dates: 2017 - ongoing
Unit: European Human Rights Law Unit
Core staff: Professor David Harris, Carla Buckley

The European Human Rights Law Unit is engaged in a project to analyse and critique the Council of Europe procedures for the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the remedial steps taken by states found by the Court to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The output will be proposals for reform and recommendations for ‘best practice.’ The justification for the project is that the Council of Europe procedures have been the subject of criticism and states have in many cases been slow to implement judgements or not implemented them at all.

View further details.

Protecting the Past, Preserving the Future: Blended Finance and the Protection of Marine Cultural Heritage

Boat image

Dates: June 2019 - March 2020 
Unit: Business and Human Rights Unit
Core staff: Principal Investigator – Dr Daria Davitti; Co-Investigator (Kenya) – Mr Omolo Joseph Agutu; Co-Investigator (UK) – Ms Laura Wills; Research Assistant (Kenya) - Ms Lucianna Wambui Thuo

Protecting the Past, Preserving the Future was granted GCRF funding from the Rising From the Depths Network to commence in June 2019. Together colleagues from HRLC and Kabarak Law School will comparatively examine the socio-legal implications of two infrastructural projects directly impacting the marine cultural heritage (MCH) of coastal areas in Kenya and Madagascar.

View further details.



European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

FRALegal and Social Research on Fundamental Rights Issues in the United Kingdom

Dates: 2011 - ongoing
Unit: European Human Rights Law
Core staff: David Harris, Laura Wills, Marie Auter
Funder(s): European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

HRLC has been the national contractor for the United Kingdom for FRANET, the FRA's multi-disciplinary research network, since its creation in 2011. HRLC provides data collection and research services on fundamental rights issues in the United Kingdom for the Agency.

In this capacity, HRLC regularly produces legal and social studies and reports on specific fundamental rights issues in the UK. These include updates on developments in the thematic areas of concern to the FRA and analysis of UK laws and practices in light of fundamental rights and principles of EU law.


The main thematic areas covered are: equality and non-discrimination; racism; Roma integration; migration; data protection; rights of the child; access to justice for victims of crimes; and the implementation in the UK of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, these can expand to include research on LGBT rights, business and human rights and criminal detention. While most of the reports we produce are the result of desk research, we also undertook extensive fieldwork research on several occasions.

The national reports are compiled by FRA into comparative EU wide reports that are then used by the Agency to advice EU institutions and Member States, contributing towards ensuring full respect of fundamental rights across the EU.

All national reports, including the UK reports produced by HRLC are available online.


Forced Migration Unit - Policy Brief Series


Mural created by Joel Bergner in collaboration with local youth.

Dates: 2017 – ongoing
Unit: Forced Migration Unit
Core staff: Daria Davitti and Laura Wills

HRLC’s Forced Migration Unit (FMU) carries out innovative and timely research on a range of issues relating to forced migration. Since its creation, the FMU has developed a particular expertise in the external dimension of EU migration policies. Focusing in particular on the nexus between migration policies and development aid, Member State support for “offshore processing” and the link between migration “management” and privatisation; the FMU, along with its partners, critically examines the policies of the European Agenda on Migration and assesses its compliance with international human rights and refugee law.

The FMU also benefits from the expertise of our Forced Migration Network, made up of academics, practitioners and civil society representatives.


The Network was created following an expert workshop convened by the FMU in November 2017 on Tackling Root Causes? EU Aid and Governance to Control Migration. Network member’s work together to produce the Unit’s Policy Brief Series that are available on the Unit page and will soon be available in Arabic. It is intended for the briefs to be used by scholars, practitioners and NGOs whilst carrying out their work and in particular to contribute towards lobbying against harmful practices.

Policy Brief 04/2018 - Does development aid contribute to curbing migration flows to Europe?

By Gabriele Restelli

This policy brief critically examines the EU’s use of development aid as a tool to stem inflows of migrants and asylum seekers by examining the assumptions on which EU policies rest and the related evidence base. Investigating the mechanisms potentially underlying the aid/migration nexus, it argues that development policy should return to prioritising development goals over migration control objectives.

Policy Brief 03/2018 - Gradations of externalisation: Is the EU sailing towards offshoring asylum processing?

By Daria Davitti, Marlene Fries and Marie Walter-Franke

This brief applies a critical analysis of the reignited trend of externalised EU migration policies that appear to be moving towards a model of offshore processing, as used by Australia. By looking at the proposed CEAS reform, it lays out the fundamental concerns connected with the use of such a model and notes the flaws in the economic and “migration management” justifications for offshoring.

Please see the FMU page for further information.


National Implementing Legislation Database (NILD) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute


Dates: 2006 - 2014
Unit: International Criminal Justice Unit
Core staff: Professor Olympia Bekou, Project Lead and Head of the International Criminal Justice Unit, Edoardo Vacca

The National Implementing Legislation Database (NILD) forms part of the ICC's Legal Tools Project, an online knowledge transfer platform developed at the ICC Office of the Prosecutor. The platform provides the general public with free access to the most comprehensive electronic library on international criminal law and justice and consists of over 70,000 documents.

Since 2006, HRLC has had sole responsibility for all components relating to National Implementing Legislation and has developed a dynamic, fully-searchable database of national legislation implementing the ICC Statute. The database has been cited widely as a reference by professionals and academics in online discussions and in other online databases.


NILD provides the following core functions: 

  • A comprehensive and up to date collection of national legislation that has been adopted by States in relation to the Rome Statute (ICC Acts on Crimes and Cooperation, national criminal codes, criminal procedure codes and other relevant legislation).
  • A fully-searchable relational database of all national legislation which enables users to efficiently identify relevant provisions or sections of any, or all legislations, according to approximately 800 purposely-designed keywords or Rome Statute articles. 
  • 'Overviews', short analysis of State's overall approach to implementation, positioned together with State attributes and forming part of the general information on a particular State. 
  • Legal analysis of those provisions that are of particular interest either because they are wider or narrower than the relevant ICC Statute provision, or because they introduce new concepts or notable aberrations.

Who will benefit from using NILD? 

  • Legislators considering or drafting implementing legislation and those monitoring the impact of existing legislation. As legislators are often under-resourced, NILD provides an invaluable tool for evaluating the legislative approaches of other states and enhances capacity to draft effective legislation which incorporates the complexities of international crimes into national law. It can also be used to ensure national legislation is kept up to date with any changes to the Rome Statute.
  • Implementers such as Judges, Parliamentarians, police forces as well as prison authorities in states considering ratification of the Rome Statute can use NILD to identify examples of implementing obligations and assist assessment of national capacities to ensure the rights of individuals and the admissibility of a trail. 
  • Regulators such as Civil society organisations, at the national and international level, will find in NILD a useful tool providing them with easy access to comparative knowledge essential to better monitor implementation of the Rome Statute and effectively plan advocacy campaigns. 
  • Researchers are provided with a one-stop-shop comparative research tool with unprecedented access to information which is not readily available elsewhere.

Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD) - The Case Matrix Network Knowledge Hub


Dates: September 2013 - ongoing
Unit: International Criminal Justice Unit
Core staff: Professor Olympia Bekou, Project Lead and Head of the International Criminal Justice Unit, Ms Katerina Katsimardou-Miariti, Research Assistant (to February 2017), Ms Agnes Flues, HRLC Co-ordinator
Funder(s): European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, European Union and the Royal Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD) was developed as part of the Case Matrix Network’s Ratification, Implementation and Cooperation Toolkit, CJAD provides a central information hub and analysis of all aspects of implementing legislation on cooperation relevant to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute in addition to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court (APIC).

Through free and universal access to CJAD, States are able to gain knowledge, review, compare and access online information pertaining to cooperation with the Court. In practice, CJAD will function as an add-on to the National Implementing Legislation Database, which forms part of the ICC Legal Tools Project.

Please see the CMN website for further information.


Research funding partners



Human Rights Law Centre

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

+44 (0)115 846 8506