Professor Ahmed Shaheed

Essex Law School
Professor Ahmed Shaheed



Ahmed is Professor of International Human Rights Law in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He directs the Human Rights Centre's Religion and Equality Project, Project on Mobilising A Global Alliance to Counter islamophobia, and the Essex Summer School on Human Rights Research and Practice. He serves as an adviser on 'hate speech' to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and is a member of the Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief convened by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief from 2016 to 2022 having previously served as the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran from 2011 to 2016. 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 and is a Senior Fellow of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Montreal. Ahmed’s areas of research are human rights implementation, UN’s human rights mechanisms, freedom of religion or belief, 'hate speech', human rights and emerging technologies, the freedom of thought, 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. Ahmed has received numerous prestigious awards including the UN Foundation's Global Leadership Award in 2015 for his work in promoting human rights nationally and internationally and a Presidential Medal from Albania in 2010 for his contributions to peace in the west Balkans,.


  • PhD University of Queensland, (1995)

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Human Rights: Theories and Applications (HU901)

  • Religion, Gender Equality and Postcoloniality (HU924)

  • Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy (HU925)

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

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

  • Regional Human Rights Systems (LW515)

  • Foundation Essay (LW531)

  • Dissertation (LW600)

  • Foundation Essay (LW617)

  • Dissertation (LW900)

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

  • International Human Rights: Theories and Institutions (LW924)

  • Academic Skills in International Law (LW949)

  • Dissertation (LW985)

  • Foundation Essay (LW997)

  • Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence (LW937)

  • Dissertation - Law, Environment and Sustainability (LW532)

Previous supervision

Lena Bernice Barrett
Lena Bernice Barrett
Thesis title: The Contribution of Civil Society to Combatting Torture and Ill-Treatment: A Cross-National Analysis
Degree subject: Human Rights
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 22/5/2019


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., 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

McGregor, L., Ng, V. and Shaheed, A., (2018). The Universal Declaration at 70: Putting Human Rights at the Heart of the Design, Development and Deployment of Artificial Intelligence

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


Countering Islamophobia

Open Society Foundation


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

City University of New York

+44 (0) 1206 873383


5S.6.26, Colchester Campus