Professor Ahmed Shaheed

School of Law
Professor Ahmed Shaheed



Ahmed is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Global Practice at the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He directs the Religion and Equality Project and the Freedom of Religion or Belief for All in Uzbekistan Project at the Human Rights Centre. Ahmed is the director of Essex Summer School on Human Rights Research and Practice and a co-deputy director of the Human Rights Centre. He is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief having previously served as the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Hailing from the Maldives, Ahmed served as Foreign Minister of Maldives between 2005 and 2010, member of the Constitutional Assembly from 2004 to 2007, and led the government’s efforts to fast-track human rights and governance reforms between 2003 and 2007, which led to the transition to democracy in 2008. He is the founding chair of the Geneva-based think-tank, Universal Rights Group. Ahmed’s areas of research are human rights implementation, UN’s human rights mechanisms, religious freedom, human rights and emerging technologies, and progressive Islam. His reports to the UN have covered the freedom of thought, combatting Antisemitism and Islamophobia, upholding gender equality while promoting religious freedom, mainstreaming religious freedom in the sustainable development agenda, defending religious freedom while countering terrorism, and promoting freedom of expression.

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Human Rights: Theories and Applications (HU901)

  • Religion and Human Rights (HU924)

  • Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy (HU925)

  • Human Rights: Global Diversity and Global Challenges (HU930)

  • Gender, Race, Identity and Human Rights (HU931)

  • Final Year Research Project (LW304)

  • Regional Human Rights Systems (LW515)

  • International Human Rights Law: Law and Practice (LW901)

  • International Human Rights: Theories and Institutions (LW924)

  • Current Issues in Legal Research (LW306)

  • Legal Research Skills (LW254)


Journal articles (3)

Shaheed, A., (2021). Freedom of Religion: A Shield to Protect or a Sword to Harm?. Conscience: The News Journal of Catholic Opinion. XLII (1), 30-32

Shaheed, A., (2019). Protecting and promoting the right to freedom of religion and belief for all. Sur. 16 (29), 41-48

Shaheed, A., (2018). Interfaith dialogue as a means to address incitement to violence based on religion or belief. Freedom from Fear. 2018 (14), 58-65

Book chapters (5)

Shaheed, A. and Greenacre, B., Binary Threat: How governments' cyber laws and practice undermines human rights in the MENA region. In: Cyberpolitics in the Middle East. POMEPs/Stanford University

Shaheed, A., (2021). Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion or Belief. In: Elgar Encyclopaedia on Human Rights. Editors: Nowak, M., . Elgar

Shaheed, A. and Richter, R., (2017). Coping Mechanisms for State Non-cooperation. In: The United Nations Special Procedures System. Brill/Nijhoff. 153- 187. 9789004304703

Shaheed, A. and Sanei, F., (2016). Outlier:Iran and its use of the death penalty. In: Death Penalty and the Victims. Editors: Simonovic, I., . United Nations. 9789210583954

Shaheed, A., (2013). Maritime Security Cooperation in South Asia: A Maldives Perspective. In: Cooperative Security Framework for South Asia. Editors: Nayak, N., . Institute of Strategic Studies. 100- 113. 8182747058. 9788182747050

Reports and Papers (5)

McGregor, L., Ng, V. and Shaheed, A., The Universal Declaration at 70: Putting Human Rights at the Heart of the Design, Development and Deployment of Artificial Intelligence

McGregor, L., Fussey, P., Murray, D., Fox, C., Alhelbawy, A., McDonald Maier, K., Shaheed, A. and Gilbert, G., ‘Written Evidence from Professor Lorna McGregor et al 0090): Urgent Need for Full Transparency and Human Rights Impact Assessment of the NHSX Contact Tracing App’

Shaheed, A., Freedom of Thought

Shaheed, A., (2018). State-Religion Relationships and Impact on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Shaheed, A., (2017). An Agenda for Operationalising Freedom of Religion or Belief Within the UN System and Beyond

Media (1)

Pretty, J., Dixon, M., Tearne, R., Oliver, S., Shaheed, A. and Lichtenstein, J., Louder than Words Podcast: Migration. Audio

Other (4)

Shaheed, A., (2021).There is no legal defence of LGBT+ conversions

Shaheed, A. and McGregor, L., (2020).The COVID-19 pandemic: Five urgent principles for leaving no one behind through technology,Universal Rights Group

Shaheed, A., (2020).Covid-19 and Freedom of Belief,Just Security

Shaheed, A. and Richter, R., (2018).Is 'Human Rights' a Western Concept?,International Peace Institute/The Global Observatory

Grants and funding


Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for All in Uzbekistan

City University of New York

+44 (0) 1206 873383


5S.6.26, Colchester Campus