International Essex inspired British Council alumni finalist

  • Date

    Fri 3 Apr 20

Lilia Petrosyan

A human rights graduate shortlisted for a British Council global alumni award has described how Essex’s international community and leading academics inspired her to pursue a career in protecting the rights of marginalised communities.

Lilia Petrosyan, who graduated in 2013 with an LLM International Human Rights Law, is one of seven finalists, and the only woman, in the Professional Achievement Award category.

Lilia is a Consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights where her responsibilities include supporting the organisation of and developing the annual UN Forum on Minority Issues.

She has also supported the UN Special Rapporteur in developing guidance on eliminating statelessness.

Speaking about the honour, Lilia said: “Coming from a small developing country like Armenia, and having very few opportunities, I want to share my story to encourage young women from disadvantaged communities around the world not to allow any obstacle to hinder their education.”

Lilia, who volunteered in the Human Rights Clinic at Essex, credited the community in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre for much of her ambition and success: “I was taught and mentored by leading academics and practitioners who not only inspired me to pursue professional development but also supported and encouraged me to become a strong human rights advocate.

“I also learnt from and was inspired by my friends and fellow students who came from different parts of the world, bringing their unique experiences to the classroom. Studying in such an international atmosphere was a very inspiring and enriching experience.”

Lilia’s Essex experience prompted her to pursue an international career at the forefront of global challenges.

“I feel privileged to work for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights where I make my small contribution to the protection of vulnerable and marginalised communities around the world. I meet many courageous human rights defenders who fight for justice despite facing so many obstacles. I have learned from them that we must never give up.”

Lilia added: “Every day I go to work it’s not just a place that helps me to earn a living, or build a career, but it’s a place I truly believe has a power to change lives for the better. And that is the best part of my work.”

Lilia is one of three former Essex students to reach the finals of the British Council Awards. Jian Jiang, PhD Computational Finance, 2011, and Khalifa Al Haroon, who studied a foundation English language course in 2003, are both named in the Entrepreneurial Award category.