Happy Holidays and New Year from the OxHRH!

by | Dec 20, 2017

Our OxHRH activities have gathered momentum during this year of celebrating the fifth anniversary of the OxHRH. Michaelmas Term has been particularly productive with the culmination of several of our major initiatives.

Chief among these has been the launch of our online course Learning Lessons from Litigators: Realising the Right to Education Through Public Interest Layering. In partnership with Open Society Foundations, this four-part film series features interviews with ten litigators from four countries who have been engaged in litigation campaigns to realise the right to education. This online course is a trailblazing initiative that uses digital technology to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and raise awareness about human rights challenges in education. We have so far launched two of the four modules in the series, each time being joined remotely by an online global audience. These full modules are now available on YouTube and we look forward to launching the last couple of modules in early 2018.

Another highlight of this term was our international conference, Beyond Human Rights: Rethinking Gender Equality in Law and Politics, which the OxHRH co-hosted in Bogotá, Colombia, on 19 and 20 October 2017. Extending the OxHRH’s work on gender equality, OxHRH Director Sandra Fredman and Deputy-Director Meghan Campbell participated in this workshop that examined new and old questions about the place of constitutions, law, gender equality and women’s rights in an increasingly unequal and divided world.

Our flagship initiative, the OxHRH Blog, continues to foster a global conversation on cutting-edge human rights developments. This term we have been delighted to welcome Farrah Raza and Nomfundo Ramalekana to our editorial team. Our recent coverage has captured some significant events as they unfold, including a special blog series on the Kenyan elections, the controversy around the Catalan Independence Referendum, and the military action which led to the resignation of Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe. The blogs from the past year have been collected in our now well-established OxHRH anthology, with each themed chapter drawing together the diverse perspectives of our blog contributions thanks to the insightful reflections of our commentators. This most recent edition of the annual anthology will be released shortly.

While the OxHRH blog has continued to keep pace with the fast-moving debates and developments in relation to Brexit, we have also proactively sought to influence policy on Brexit by asserting a strong voice for human rights. On 28 September 2017, OxHRH Director Sandra Fredman, Deputy-Director Meghan Campbell and Professor Alison Young hosted a high-level workshop at the British Academy on The Impact of Brexit on Equality Rights. This structured roundtable discussion brought together academics, politicians and policy-makers to explore potential avenues for ensuring the robust protection of equality rights after Brexit.

Seeking to shape policy decisions on Brexit through another route, the OxHRH recently supported a submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights about the human rights implications of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. The report, which assessed the impact of excluding the EU Charter from being part of UK law after exit day, was co-authored by OxHRH director Sandra Fredman, Deputy-Director Meghan Campbell, Paul Craig, Alison Young, Stephen Weatherill and Nicholas Bamforth.

Many of the OxHRH activities this term have been collaborative, in keeping with our mission of opening up new spaces for exchange and learning about human rights. This has included our collaborative seminar series with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights; a film screening of the IranWire documentary The Cost of Discrimination co-hosted with Oxford Lawyers Without Borders; a talk by Chief Justice Shah of the Lahore High Court about judicial reform in Pakistan, co-hosted with the South Asian Law Discussion Group; and a presentation on Reconstruction and Recovery: Invigorating Human Rights for the World at the first Africa Oxford Initiative insaka.

Our RightsUp #RightNow podcast series continues to go from strength to strength thanks to our visionary OxHRH Communications Director Kira Allman. In December, we have released two podcasts on Northern Ireland, Brexit and human rights. Colin Harvey from Queen’s Belfast University discusses ‘The Impact of Brexit on Human Rights in Northern Irelandand Evelyn Collins the Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission talks on ‘The View Beyond Brexit: Eqaulity Rights in Northern Ireland After Divorce’. Combined these two podcasts have been listened to 650 times!

Tapping into the OxHRH rich experience in equality law, Director Sandra Fredman (Oxford) and Deputy-Director Meghan Campbell (Birmingham) joined with Shreya Atrey (Bristol) and Oxford DPhil Candidates Sanya Samtani (OxHRH Associate), Jason Brickhill (OxHRH Research Director) and Nomfundo Ramalekana (OxHRH Blog Editor) have made a submission to the CRPD Committee on the Article 5 of the Convention, equality and non-discrimination for persons with disabilities.

And lastly, our Friday in Focus series profile the careers and research  of current and former OxHRH team members. From human rights in the Northern Ireland police service to the concept of equality in the Kenyan constitution to establishing a policy center in India to make better law for the government, our team members are at the forefront of the most cutting edge human rights issues. Our latest Friday in Focus on Ndjodi Ndeunyema was retweeted by the President of Namibia.

We are incredibly grateful for all the hard work of the members of our team, the pro-bono support from Kathryn McConnachie and Carli Schoeman and to the financial support from the Bertha Foundation, the British Academy, Open Society Foundations, Hart Publishing and OUP, as well as the University of Oxford and the ESRC. And, of course, thank you to all our readers, authors, contributors and supporters in Oxford and indeed across the world!

Wishing all our contributors the best of the season and a happy new year!

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