HRC 40th Anniversary Conference

Pushing Back and Moving Forwards: What Future for the Global Human Rights Project?

We are thrilled to extend an invitation to you for the momentous occasion of the 40th Anniversary Conference of the Human Rights Centre. This event, taking place on 07 and 08 July at The Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall at the University of Essex, marks four decades of unwavering dedication to the pursuit of justice, equality, and human rights advocacy.

The 40th Anniversary Conference promises to be an exceptional gathering of esteemed scholars, experts, activists, and leaders from various fields of human rights. Engaging panel discussions, thought-provoking keynote speeches, and interactive workshops will offer a platform for profound insights, inspiring conversations, and collaborative initiatives to shape a more inclusive and just future for all.



9.15 – 10am: Registration and coffee

10.15 – 10.30: Conference opening: Professor Anthony Forster (University of Essex, Vice-Chancellor)

10.30 – 11am: The Essex HRC: Past, Present, and Future – Dr Andrew Fagan, (Human Rights Centre, Director)

11am – 12 noon: Keynote Speech: Iain Byrne, (Amnesty International, ESCR Policy Coordinator, MA 1994) Reasons to be optimistic: Why the human rights project is far from over

12.00 – 13.15: Lunch

13.15 – 14.45: Panel 1: Is there a role for foreign lawyers in human rights litigation?

Tony Fisher (CEO, Fisher, Jones Greenwood)

Prof Francoise Hampson, (Emeritus Professor, Essex Law School)

Prof Philip Leach, (Professor of Human Rights Law, Middlesex University)

15.00 – 15.30: Afternoon break – teas and coffees

15.30 – 17.15: Panel 2

Prof Pierre Bosset (Professor of Law, Department of Law, Université du Québec à Montréal): Cultural Human Rights as Legal Foundations for Interculturalist Policies

Ana Cristina Rodriguez Muñoz, (Indigenous person of the Inga people of Colombia): Indigenous Human Rights & Biocultural Peace

Dr Nilanjana Premaratna (Lecturer in International Politics, Newcastle University), Sujith Rathnayake (Sri Lankan artist) and

Prof Lars Waldorf (Essex Law School & HRC): Art and Human Rights during and after Sri Lanka’s 2022 Protest Movement

17.30 – 19.30: Evening reception – Secret Garden


9.15 – 10.00: Coffee and tea

10.00 - 11.30: Panel 3

Dr Marina Lostal (Co-Deputy Director, HRC) The Non-human Dimension of Human Rights

Dr Mervat Rishmawi: (HRC Fellow) The Rights of Older Persons – Moving Between the ‘Generations’ of Rights. Laura Zanella (Ph.D. student, Essex Law School and HRC) A Critique of the ECtHR’s Restrictive Definition of Family in Migration cases

11.30 – 13.00: Panel 4

Prof Alejandro Anaya-Muñoz (Vice-Rector, Universidad Iberoamericana México City & MA 1999) Willingness, Capacities and (Non)compliance with Human Rights Norms

Prof Carla Ferstman (Essex Law School & HRC) The Charitable Turn of Reparations

Dr Matthew Gillett (Essex Law School & HRC) Human Rights Fact-Finding and Adjudication: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s prima facie approach to burdens and evidence

Dr Tara Van Ho (Essex Law School & HRC, LLM 2009) The Future of Corporate Accountability in Human Rights Law

11.30 – 12.45: Student Employability Event - Getting a Job in Human Rights

Iain Byrne (Amnesty International, MA 1994)

Laura Callaghan-Pace (UK Diplomat)

Mary Snow (Co-Director, US non-profit community organisation, MA 2008)

13.00 – 14.00: Lunch

14.00 – 15.30: Panel 5

Dr Andrew Fagan: Overcoming Fruitless Critiques of Human Rights

Liz Griffin (HRC Fellow) Human Rights Values Based Leadership: Learning to Walk Our Own Talk

Prof Ahmed Shaheed (Essex Law School & HRC) Religious Freedom: Should we Push Back to Move Forward or Move Forward to Push Back?

15.30 – 16.00: Afternoon break

16.00 – 17.15: Panel 6: Roundtable Discussion: Future Challenges to the Human Rights Project

Jude Bueno de Mesquita (Co-Deputy Director, HRC & Essex Law School)

Dr Andrew Fagan (HRC Director)

Prof Michael Freeman (Emeritus Professor, Essex Government Dept. & HRC)

Prof Kathryn Gilmore (Honorary Professor, HRC)

17.15 – 17.30: Closing comments, Dr Andrew Fagan

Register on Eventbrite