Human Rights and Democracy: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

05 Mar 2013 12:32:59.740

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Set against a backdrop of the Arab Spring, students from across Europe are set to discuss the value of democracy at The University of Nottingham’s Human Rights Law Centre 14th Annual Student Human Rights Conference.

Taking place on Saturday 9 March, the event entitled ‘Human Rights and Democracy:  Two Sides of the Same Coin?’, will provide a platform for students to discuss human rights in the context of their studies as well as wider global and political developments.

Organised by students for students the conference will see postgraduates present their research alongside guest speakers who will consider the deficiencies and blind spots of established democracies alongside lessons from the events of the Arab Spring.

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The democratic ideal

Ahead of the event, conference organiser and law student Bettina Keimel, explained: “The Arab Spring has served as a very visual and poignant reminder of the importance that many of the world’s population attribute to democracy.  It is an ideal that represents achievement or improvement of freedom, equality, safety, a voice or development.

“The great force with which people demand democratic institutions prompts us to think whether democracy can, or does, fulfil these grand promises.  It also begs the questions:  is democracy a pre-requisite for full human rights democracy?  and which human rights are essential for a functioning democracy?”

With over 100 attendees expected from across the UK and Europe, student organisers and the University’s Human Rights Law Centre are once again expecting the event to provoke thoughtful discussion and lively debate led by national and international experts, resident and visiting students.

Impact of the Arab Spring

Having supported the student organising committee, Human Rights Law Centre Research Assistant Amy Weatherburn, explained: “The current political backdrop in the Middle East/North African region, not only emphasises the importance of maintaining a commitment to human rights obligations, but also the interrelatedness between human rights and democracy.  

“The Arab Spring has served as a very visual and poignant reminder of the importance that many of the world’s population attribute to democracy. In light of these events, the conference will consider whether democracy is a pre-requisite for full human rights enjoyment and which human rights are essential for a functioning democracy.”

Speakers at this year’s event will include:

  • Mr Alfred de Zayas, UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable Order
  • Ms Louise de Sousa, Head of Human Rights and Democracy Department, United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Professor Todd Landman, Professor of Government and Director of the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, University of Essex
  • Ms Mervat Rishmawi, Independent Human Rights Consultant specialising in MENA Region and HRLC Fellow

Book your place at the conference on the online registration webpage, or find out further information about the conference on University of Nottingham’s Human Rights Law Centre website.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK’s Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

For more information please contact Bettina Keimel, Conference Organiser
Harry Waddle

Harry Waddle - Students Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 823 2353 Location: University Park

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