Broadening human rights engagement

We organise a range of events throughout the year, both within the university and at other locations on a wide range of contemporary and thematic human rights issues for our students, members and fellows, and external visitors.

Our events include our regular speaker series in which we invite human rights academics and practitioners to discuss a topical issue; careers events to prepare our students for a range of professional opportunities, including field work, our annual lecture in which we invite an eminent human rights leader, and socials to provide students with a chance to mingle in relaxed surroundings with others who share an interest in human rights, including members of the Human Rights Centre and much more.

You can apply to join our Human Rights Summer School or the Human Rights Leadership Lab, a short course led by experts in the field of Human Rights. Our practical professional development courses offer specialist training across a range of areas. Develop your skills, tools, and expertise to take your career to the next level.

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Our key events

Speaker series

Our speaker series events focus on both contemporary and thematic human rights issues and provide students and staff with an opportunity to interact with individuals engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights around the world.

The Human Rights Centre has hosted a diverse range of leading human rights figures such as the High Commissioner for Human Rights, governmental policy-makers, NGO representatives, and grassroots activists.

 You can follow the series on Twitter with #essexhrc


Recordings of some of our previous speaker series are available here.

Right on

The online event series, Right On, is co-coordinated by the Geneva Academy, the Geneva Human Rights Platform, the Universal Rights Group, the Essex Human Rights Centre, and the Geneva Internet Platform.

Human Rights Annual Lecture

Each year we invite leading experts from around the world to give our Human Rights Annual Lecture. The event is open to students, staff and members of the public.

Human Rights in Asia Conference

Despite its large population and political importance, Asia is frequently neglected in human rights education in the UK. There are many reasons for this, one being the absence of a regional human rights mechanism for Asia.

In response to this gap, Human Rights Centre students organise our annual Human Rights in Asia Conference. Each year student convenors select different but timely human rights issues related to Asia and invite experts from the region and beyond to address these topics.

The conference is an excellent opportunity for participants to meet and network with other students, researchers and human rights professionals interested in human rights issues in Asia. As well as deepening their understanding of human rights in Asia, the event also helps our student convenors to gain practical skills in conference organisation, a very useful asset for their future careers.

Human Rights Research Students' Conference

The Human Rights Centre is a core partner in the hosting of the Postgraduate Research Students’ conference. The conference is aimed at attracting research students from different disciplines and at all levels of study related to human rights, the conference is open for participation to students from any institution internationally. The Postgraduate Research Students’ conference is co-hosted and organized with the School for Advanced Study, of the University of London.

Chalking of the steps

Each year, to mark International Human Rights Day our students chalk the steps between squares 3 and 4 with the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each article is written in English, then in another language underneath.

Annual Geneva Academy Conference

Each year we hold an annual conference with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights was established in 2017 and provides a platform for academics, practitioners and activists to discuss a wide range of international humanitarian law issues.

The 2020 annual conference built upon the 2019 annual conference, and focussed on the connectivity between regional and global human rights mechanisms. It discussed relevant links with national systems and the overall effectiveness of these interactions in a number of specific policy areas like climate change, the fight against corruption or the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Human Rights Summer School

The Essex Human Rights Summer School will cover various topics related to professional practice in human rights. Taught by an international faculty of leading experts in the field, the Summer School will examine human rights research methods, advocacy and campaigning strategies, and aspects of professional development. The programme includes sessions that address growing challenges human rights professionals face and highlights opportunities to overcome them. The Summer School curriculum is designed to build the capacity of both mid-career human rights professionals and postgraduate students to be successful human rights defenders and researchers.

The teaching programme covers a range of research methods and skills necessary for successful human rights practice and professional development. In addition to modules covering various research methods, the curriculum includes sessions on advocacy, organisational management, coping strategies and practitioner case studies.

It is an ideal course for postgraduate students, academics, lawyers and human rights professionals working in NGOs, government and international organisations. and will take place online, over two weeks.

Find out more information and how to apply

The Human Rights Leadership Lab

The Human Rights Leadership Lab is a supportive and reflective learning space to develop your leadership presence, skills and impact. It is the first ever leadership development training specifically designed to meet the needs of activists and leaders and managers working for human rights organisations.

Learn how to better motivate, empower and lead our people and build healthier and more sustainable working environments using a human rights values-based leadership approach. Together we will reflect upon some of the practical challenges and dilemmas faced in a human rights space, including how to deal with traumatic content and the stressful nature of the work.

You will acquire concrete tools and skills to practice human rights values-based leadership and take your leadership ability, skills and presence to the next level.

This short course is suitable for human rights professionals, and will take place online. There will be six, four hour sessions held over 6 weeks.


Find out more information and how to apply

Conflict and International Law: A Field-Based Training Course

The Essex Human Rights Centre presents a week-long practical development course, covering a range of topics related to the field of humanitarian aid, UN and diplomatic work.

Taught by leading practitioner in the field, Dr Conor Foley, the course runs over five days at our Colchester campus and consists of a mixture of lectures, interactive exercises, skills and scenario-based activities, equipping participants with a realistic introduction to the challenges they are likely to face in the field.

This short course is suitable for Post-graduate students and professionals who may be interested in a career secondment to the field. It will be held in person over 5 days.


Find out more information and how to apply
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