As part of our blog series celebrating the Human Rights Centre’s 40th anniversary, we sat down with LLM International Human Rights Law graduate Hanne Juncher for a Q&A session.

Hanne attended Essex between 1990-1991 having previously studied Law at the University of Copenhagen.

She had often dreamed about studying abroad and was inspired to launch a career in human rights by the launch of the very first Danish Institute for Human Rights.

After successfully applying for grants, Hanne was able to secure a place at the Human Rights Centre – a decision she knew was instantly right when she met the team.

Hanne Juncher

What was your overall impression of the Human Rights Centre?

It was a true centre of expertise, there was a strong pioneering spirit (human rights LLM programmes were much, much thinner on the ground then!), and we, the students, were welcomed with great warmth and commitment by the faculty and administrative staff. The professors at the time - Centre Director Professor Kevin Boyle, and Professors Nigel Rodley, Francoise Hampson and Geoff Gilbert - were truly points of reference in the field of human rights and huge inspirations for young aspiring human rights lawyers. They were incredibly knowledgeable and curious, and generous with their time.

How did the Human Rights Centre help you and prepare you for your career?

Mainly by opening my eyes to the international human rights system, to multilateralism, and by providing a basic understanding of the dynamics of rights and the mainstreaming of those considerations in all processes. Also thanks to the wonderful cocktail of backgrounds and interests among the students.

What have you gone on to do since studying at Essex?

I worked at the Ministry of Defence for a few years, hoping to share my enthusiasm for the law of armed conflict there. But my real interest was human rights and I started with the Council of Europe 25 years ago. I am currently the Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe’s Anti-corruption body, the Group of States against Corruption – GRECO, and Head of Department for Action Against Economic Crime, after working for many years in the field of independence and efficiency of justice.

What are you most proud of?

Mainly of always having tried to highlight the human rights dimensions of whatever task or process I have been involved in, whether that has been security policy, justice or corruption.

What would your message be to future students thinking about studying at HRC?

It is a wonderful opportunity both professionally and personally. You will learn and discover so much and probably make friends for life. Don’t hesitate for a second.