Our Human Rights Centre celebrates 40 years of making a difference

  • Date

    Fri 7 Oct 22

This October marks a significant milestone in the history of the University’s Human Rights Centre – it’s 40th anniversary.

Launching in 1982, the Centre has grown to become a world-leading, and universally recognised, academic centre for human rights.

It boasts a global reputation for excellence in the promotion of world-leading interdisciplinary human rights education, research and practice. It is internationally recognised for the breadth and depth of its research projects.

The Centre is the hub of human rights activity. It brings together a vibrant community of students, over 2,000 alumni and more than 100 members from across disciplines.

Since opening its doors, more than 3,000 students have completed their studies at the Centre. Many have gone on to build highly successful human rights careers around the world. We hope to hear some of their stories over the coming months.

Over the last three decades, members of staff have also occupied important positions with the United Nations – the world’s global organisation for human rights. And over the last 40 years, colleagues have worked tirelessly to support human rights across the globe.

Projects range from a multi-million-pound investigation into human rights, technology, and big data, through to the Digital Verification Unit which has won prizes for its work carried out in war-torn Syria.

Our vital work also looks at human rights issues closer to home, in response to the growing inequalities and poverty on our doorstep.

As well as being known for its successes from high impact projects, the Centre has been recognised by significant figures in the world of human rights, including Nelson Mandela, who visited the University in July 1997. He accompanied Graça Machel, who subsequently became his wife, when she was awarded an Honorary Degree in recognition of her work with the UN on children’s rights.

In his blog, which includes highlights from the last 40 years, Director of the Centre, Dr Andrew Fagan, said: “We are deservedly and deeply proud of the enduring contribution we have made to the human rights project since 1982.

“A great many people have made the HRC what it is today.

“As the present director, I bear the daunting responsibility of continuing to maintain and build upon our global reputation and to ensure that Essex remains the capital of human rights.”

To celebrate this important landmark, a series of events and activities will be taking place over the next 12 months.

An alumni event is planned to take place in Geneva - home of the United Nations - next spring, and a two-day conference will take place in the UK in the summer. Keep an eye on the website for details.