Human Rights

Several CELI members share an interest in human rights, conducting research on a wide range of national, European and international human rights law. While the approach of the members of the group is primarily legal, they also share an interest in human rights theory. The topics studied include terrorism, poverty, labour rights, social rights, globalisation, and the role of NGOs.


News, events and current work

New Book Published by Leicester Law School human rights lawyers

Professors Katja Ziegler, Elizabeth Wicks and Dr Loveday Hodson have published the edited book ‘The UK and European Human Rights: A Strained Relationship?’ The book also contains a chapter written by the Leicester Senior Lecturer, Dr Ed Bates.
New Book Published by Leicester Law School human rights lawyers

The UK and European Human Rights: A Strained Relationship?

The book analyses the topical and contentious issue of the relationship between the UK and the European systems for the protection of human rights from doctrinal, contextual and comparative perspectives and explores factors that influence the relationship of the UK and European human rights. The book can be expected to contribute to the debates around the Government consultation about the future of human rights protection in the UK, announced for the autumn.

The UK and European Human Rights: A Strained Relationship?

Law staff publish articles in influential book about Fundamental Rights in Europe

Dr Lorna Gilles and Dr Stelios Andreadakis published two articles in a highly regarded collection on the protection of fundamental rights in Europe which discusses the role of the European Courts and the evolution of this contemporary and controversial area of law.

Dr Stelios Andreadakis and Dr Lorna Gillies are amongst the contributors in the edited collection ‘Fundamental Rights in the EU: A Matter for Two Courts’.

The collection brings together a number of high-profile contributors and joins the expanding scholarship in the area of fundamental rights and their protection in Europe. The focus is on the relationship between the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, covering issues of judicial cooperation and dialogue in the post-Lisbon era and in the context of the process of the Accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Dr Andreadakis’ chapter provides an overview of the problems and challenges of the EU Accession and offers valuable insights based on empirical data gathered by a set of interviews with European Judges and policy-makers. Dr Gillies’ chapter focuses on how the emergence of the Charter as a source of fundamental rights law is reflected in a number of recent decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters.

The book, edited by Sonia Morano-Foadi and Professor Lucy Vickers (both Oxford Brookes University), is already considered essential reading for academics researching and specialising in this area of law as well as for policy-makers, judges and practitioners, as it contains high quality research outputs that contribute to a rigorous academic discussion.

CharterClick! project to detect violations of Fundamental Rights

The Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI) is a partner in the CharterClick! project, a user-friendly tool to detect violations falling within the scope of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
CharterClick! project to detect violations of Fundamental Rights

Flag of Europe

The project, which started in February 2015 and is coordinated by Prof. Adelina Adinolfi from the University of Florence, will address the sense of frustration that victims of fundamental rights violations experience when they rely on cases outside its scope of application.

To project will set up a freely accessible on-line platform where victims of fundamental rights violations, their representatives and national judges will find a set of tools to easily establish whether a claim falls within the scope of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. In particular,:

  • an Admissibility Checklist, modelled on a checklist related to the ECHR, aimed at detecting cases falling inside or outside the scope of the Charter;
  • Database containing a selection of cases drawn from the case law of the Union and national courts, and from the practice of national human rights bodies (in particular, equality bodies and ombudspersons), which will complement the Admissibility Checklist by exemplifying situations where the Charter can or cannot apply;
  • a document containing Practical Guidelines on the application of the Charter;
  • a Document on the Best Practices of those representing victims of fundamental rights as regards the identification of claims falling within the scope of the Charter.

The project will be run by the University of Florence in collaboration with 7 co-beneficiaries (from five different Member States), six academic institutions and an institute specialised in legal informatics (ITTIG). The Consortium is enriched by further associate partners from Member States, including ombudspersons, national Equality bodies, organizations providing legal assistance and training in the field, and a center for the exchange of knowledge and information between ombudspersons.

An initial meeting took place at the University of Florence in February 2015. Further information and outcomes of the project will be found on the project’s web-page

Project implemented with financial support of the Fundamental Rights & Citizenship Programme of the European Union (JUST/2013/FRC/AG)

‘Towards Marriage Equality: Reflections from Scholar-Activists’

Leicester graduate Professor Sue Wilkinson speaks of her legal case, Wilkinson v Kitzinger (2007), and the Marriage Same Sex Couples Act 2013.
‘Towards Marriage Equality: Reflections from Scholar-Activists’

Professor Sue Wilkinson and Professor Celia Kitzinger by Alison Taylor

On Wednesday 18 February, Leicester graduate Professor Sue Wilkinson visited the School of Law to give a talk to LLB students entitled “Towards Marriage Equality: Reflections from Scholar-Activist.” The focus of Professor Wilkinson’s talk was the legal case brought to the English High Court reported as Wilkinson v Kitzinger [2007] FLR 195, for the recognition of her marriage to Professor Celia Kitzinger in 2003.

This case raised an issue of the conflict of laws; both parties had their home (domicile) in England and in 2003 validly married in the Canadian State of British Columbia. Were they ‘married’ in the eyes of English law? Under English law their relationship was deemed a ‘Civil Partnership’ (Civil Partnership Act 2004, s.215). In this case, Professor Wilkinson petitioned the court to have the parties’ same sex marriage recognised in England as a marriage. The court was required to consider the compatibility of English law, under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, with Articles 8, 12 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

This case is of interest not just to law students interested in the discrete legal question as to how English law defines foreign relationships and the criteria for their recognition in England, but also to social science students interested in wider issues of how equality and social justice, regardless of gender, can be assured and adequately reflect the construction of ‘family’ and personal relationships in the twenty-first century. The talk provided an overview of the wider historical context of equality for personal relationships in various countries such as the United States and Canada and the steps towards equality under English law via the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the Same Sex Marriage Act 2013. The talk also provided a first-hand insight into the Professors’ experience of what it was like to engage with the litigation process in the English High Court at that time and their own subsequent campaign towards equal marriage rights. On 13 March 2014, Professor Wilkinson and Kitzinger’s marriage was recognised as a marriage by the introduction of the Marriage Same Sex Couples Act 2013 in England and Wales. The talk concluded with further reflections on how the 2013 Act is another ‘step’ towards full equality for all personal relationships.



Event poster pdf file

New book on human rights and personal identity

Professor Jill Marshall’s ‘Human Rights Law and Personal Identity’, explores the role human rights law plays in the formation, and protection, of our personal identities and the development of a so-called right to identity or personality.
New book on human rights and personal identity

Human Rights Law and Personal Identity cover

Using a range of examples such as the full face veil and other forms of appearance and clothing, biology, blood and sex, Marshall critically examines, how, in a so called age of liberation and individuality, human rights law includes and excludes specific types of identity in ways that can potentially restrict our freedom rather than empower it.

Jill has recently presented parts of this work at the Association of Human Rights Research Institutes conference in Copenhagen and the University of Leicester Religion Related Research Group. She will be presenting related work on Islamic full face veil bans at a specialist workshop at Nottingham Trent University and at the Oxford Human Rights Hub seminar series in the new year.

pdf file ‘Human Rights Law and Personal Identity’ flyer (PDF)

CELI Awarded Major EU Grant

The Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI) as part of a consortium of European universities has been awarded a grant of over £ 600,000 by the European Commission for work in the area of European human rights law.
CELI Awarded Major EU Grant

European Commission

The grant for ‘Don’t Knock on the Wrong Door: CharterClick!’ will support research about the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in different EU Member States and the development of web-based tools to clarify when the Charter applies. It will provide victims of fundamental rights violations, their representatives and national judges with accessible, user-friendly tools to establish whether a claim falls within the scope of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Leicester CELI team consists of Dr Paolo Vargiu, Professor Katja Ziegler and Professor Mark Bell, with two NGO partners, The AIRE Centre and the Equality and Diversity Forum, representing victims of human rights violations.

The consortium involves six European universities in five EU Member States (Bordeaux, Cagliari, Florence, Konstanz, Leicester and Uppsala), the European University Institute and a specialised legal information technology institute. The academic institutions will collaborate closely with non-academic partners dealing with fundamental rights issues in practice (ombudspersons, national equality bodies, legal assistance and training organisations, and a centre for the exchange of knowledge and information between ombudspersons).

Since the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding in 2009, thousands have sought redress under it in cases which did not fall under its scope. Commissioner Viviane Reding highlighted “the first result of this ‘knocking on the wrong door’ exercise is an understandable sense of frustration” (XXIV FIDE Congress, 2012). Equally, the lack of knowledge about the scope of the Charter means it will not be invoked in cases where it should be applied. Existing tools do not address the preliminary question of whether a claim falls within the scope of the Charter, but instead offer information on the substantive protection granted by the Charter. This project will fill that gap.

‘Supreme Court Judgment in Nicklinson’ – 5 November 2014,

Professor Liz Wicks (Leicester Law School), Wednesday 5 November 2014, 3:00–4.30pm, Jan Grodecki Room.

Supreme Court Judgment in Nicklinson is an important judgment about assisted dying but also has much to say about the Human Rights Act, the respective roles of courts and Parliament, and declarations of incompatibility under the Act. Prof. Liz Wicks will introduce the case and thoughts on the issues raised.

All staff are welcome and anyone interested in the fields of human rights, constitutional law or medical law may be particularly interested in this topic.

Dr Ed Bates presents paper at Chatham House, London

Law School lecturer presents a paper on the work of the Strasbourg Court to a high-level roundtable meeting of parliamentarians and experts.
Dr Ed Bates presents paper at Chatham House, London

Dr Ed Bates

Dr Ed Bates was an invited speaker at a high-level roundtable meeting of parliamentarians and experts held at Chatham House, London on 13 October, 2014. The event was organized in association with the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA).

Under the heading ‘The European Court of Human Rights: Anti-Democratic or a Guardian of Fundamental Values?’ the conference considered the role of the European Court of Human Rights in the international human rights system, examining controversies that have arisen in relation to concerns about the impact of its decisions on national sovereignty. Dr Bates presented a paper on the Court’s approach to the interpretation of the Convention, and the prisoner voting controversy, building on his publications in those fields.

The event was held under ‘Chatham House Rules’ but a summary of the meeting will appear on the website for Chatham House in the near future.

‘The UK and European Human Rights: A Strained Relationship?’ 23–24 May, 2014

A two day conference about the topical and contentious issue of the relationship between the UK and the European systems for the protection of human rights (European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the European Union).

pdf file Event programme (pdf)

Date: 23–24 May 2014

Venue: College Court, Leicester (Maps and directions)

Contact: For more information please contact Professor Katja Ziegler,

Supported by

The Modern Law Review

The Council of Europe

pdf file Conference Report (pdf)

The conference will encompass both the UK’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the additional layer of human rights protection through the European Union. It will seek to contribute to the debates in the UK, and elsewhere, about the relationship between the ECHR and national courts.

The conference will bring together judges, barristers and solicitors, politicians, representatives of NGOs, the media and academics in the field. A number of high profile speakers are confirmed with judges from the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights, as well as leading authorities from academia.

Doctoral Inaugural Lecture – ‘Killing and Torturing: Not in the territory of countries parties to the European Convention’ – 19 March, 2014

Presenting the work of Dr Maribel Canto-Lopez in examining the European Convention in the context of military operations abroad.

Dr Maribel Canto-Lopez Inaugural LectureThis doctoral inaugural lecture by Dr Maribel Canto-Lopez will examine the reach of the European Convention in the context of participation by Contracting Parties in military operations abroad and how the European Court of Human Rights can further its protection of victims from the Contracting Parties’ troops conduct by using a more inclusive jurisdictional test.

Maribel joined the Law School LLM programme in Human Rights and continued with her PhD, ‘Jurisdiction and Liability under the European Convention of Contracting Parties Participating in Military Operations Abroad’, in 2008 under the supervision of Professor Robin White.

Dr Canto-Lopez continues to work as a researcher and tutor at the University of Leicester Law School.

The University of Leicester Graduate School is one of the UK’s largest and most vibrant graduate schools. Our range of Masters and research degree programmes are firmly rooted in a strong research culture.


Date: Wednesday 19 March 2014, 5.30 - 6.45pm
Location: Bennett Lecture Theatre 2, Bennett Building (Maps and directions)
Event poster pdf file

Full Face Veils and Permissible Identity Choices in 21st Century Europe – 5 March, 2014

Professor Jill Marshall (Leicester Law School), Wednesday, 5 March, 4.00–5.00 pm (JGR)

The seminar will be based on and discuss the forthcoming paper of Professor Marshall of the same title  to be published in the International Journal of the Law in Context.

This event is part of the 2014 CELI seminar series, and organised by the Human Rights Cluster.

Venue: Jan Grodecki Room, first floor, Fielding Johnson Building

Details: For more information please contact

Human Rights Reading Group – 13 November 2013

‘One, None and One Hundred Thousand Margins of Appreciation: The Lautsi Case’

For those not familiar with Lautsi, it is about the display of a crucifix in a state school, which the applicant argued was contrary to the principle of secularism in which she wished to educate her children. The article raises some broader issues about the role of the margin, and the issue of subsidiarity, in the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court which ties in with the current political debate about the relationship between the Contracting States (and the UK particularly) and the Court. The subject matter will link also with a seminar planned for next term on religious dress.

PhD research students are also welcome.

G. Itzcovich, ‘One, None and One Hundred Thousand Margins of Appreciation: The Lautsi Case’ (2012) 13 H.R.L.R. 287. Available online

2pm on Wednesday 13 November in the JG room


Working with Coercion: The Shortcomings of Labour Trafficking Laws in Australia – 23 October, 2013

Laurie Berg will be presenting her paper ‘Working with Coercion: The Shortcomings of Labour Trafficking Laws in Australia’ on 23rd October at 1pm in the JGR.

Legislation was passed in Australia in February this year seeking to sharpen criminal labour trafficking laws. Its stated aim was to overcome the excessive focus of policing and prosecutions on sexual exploitation and extreme physical force over other forms of trafficking or forced labour.  To this end, new offences were introduced (such as forced labour) along with more expansive definitions of elements of existing offences (such as the element of coercion for the purpose of making out servitude or forced labour offences). In these ways, these legislative reforms explicitly framed criminal labour exploitation as a continuum that could be facilitated through subtle forms of psychological force. This dramatic reversal of historical preoccupations with sex trafficking to the exclusion of other forms of exploitation, especially of migrant workers, is welcome indeed.  This paper celebrates this more nuanced approach to labour trafficking which permits the adducing of evidence on the complainant’s social context, their particular vulnerabilities and specific dependencies in their employment relationship.

However, it is argued that these offences still leave unchallenged serious constraints on non-citizen workers’ labour market options and larger social choices which are legitimated by immigration controls and other structural social dynamics.  Martha Fineman’s analysis of choice in the context of structural disadvantage helps illuminate how this counter-trafficking framework erases the subordinating effects of the globalised economy and national immigration laws. Consequently, regulatory responses to labour trafficking in Australia maintain a stark divide between criminal justice and labour justice. By detaching forced labour from labour so completely, these laws missed an opportunity to understand how intersections between employment and immigration regulations can magnify precariousness and exploitation for migrant workers. The paper concludes with some suggestions for integrating criminal and industrial laws to capture a spectrum of labour exploitation more fully.

Laurie Berg is a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, in Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research. She is a graduate in law of the University of New South Wales and New York University and has just submitted her PhD dissertation with the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney. Her doctoral thesis explores the rights violations experienced by low-waged migrant workers in Australia, working with or without visa authorisation. Laurie's broader research interests span political theories of inclusion, international human rights jurisprudence and Australian public law. Laurie has previously worked at Human Rights First in New York, in the International Humanitarian Law Program of the Australian Red Cross and at the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW).

The Legal Challenges of Social Media to Freedom of Expression – December 2013

The law has struggled to adapt to social media. How does the law regulate free speech? This conference sought to address those questions based on different legal disciplines.

Through social media, the monolith of speech has infiltrated all forms of space. The individual has instant access to self-expression. The public interest has seemingly been served by instant access to information and a variety of forms of engagement with that information. The law has struggled to adapt and for good reason: how does the law regulate speech; a term which is viewed as an inherent good of a democratic society? The presenters at this conference will address this question based on different legal disciplines.

CELI Human Rights Film Series ‘Perceptions of Justice’ May–June 2012

CELI Human Rights Film Series: 'Perceptions of Justice' (May–June 2012)

Event poster (pdf)

Paul O'Connell

(Former staff member) Paul recently participated in an international workshop on the justiciability of socio-economic rights at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia. Two essays of his are forthcoming in edited collections:

(i) ‘The Human Right to Health in an Age of Market Hegemony’ in Harrington and Stuttaford (eds), Global Health and Human Rights: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives (Routledge, 2010) and (ii) ‘Brave New World?: Human Rights in the Era of Globalisation’ in Baderin and Ssenyonjo (eds), International Human Rights Law: Six Decades After the UDHR and Beyond (Ashgate, 2010).

Dissenting and Separate Opinions in the European Court of Human Rights

Professor Robin White, working with Dr Iris Boussiakou as a research associate, led a two year project on Dissenting and Separate Opinions in the European Court of Human Rights, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project involved quantitative and qualitative analysis of dissenting and separate opinions of the Court over the calendar years 1999-2004.

The project database is available on the Leicester Research Archive


  • Robin White and Iris Boussiakou, ‘Voices from the European Court of Human Rights’ (2009) 27 Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 167-89.
  • Robin White and Iris Boussiakou ‘Separate opinions in the European Court of Human Rights’ (2009) 9 Human Rights Law Review 37-60.
  • A new edition of R White & C Ovey, The European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford University Press (5th ed), was published in April 2010.

Professor Szyszczak recent work

(Former staff member) Professor Szyszczak was the Chair of the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest. Recent papers include:"EU Anti-Discrimination Law" at a conference marking "50 Years of EC Law" at Fordham University, New York, 29 February 2008 - 1 March 2008: In April 2008 she spoke a seminar in Kracow on the UK and Human Rights After Lisbon and presented at seminars involving the training of lawyers and judges at ERA, Trier, Germany.Mre recently she has presented papers on EU law and the Equality Bill in London in October 2009 and March 2010.

Peter Cumper recent work

Has recently given papers on religion and human rights law at the University of Nicosea, Cyprus, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and the University of Malaya, Malaysia. In 2009 he was awarded a European Science Foundation Grant (to host an Experts Workshop (with M. Tumay) on Human Rights in Turkey, which was held in Istanbul in November 2009. He was also awarded a British Academy Research Grant in 2008 to undertake research into sharia law in Malaysia. Peter is co-writing a monograph (with Tom Lewis), entitled Faith, Secularism and Human Rights in Europe: Taking Religion Seriously (Hart Publishing), which will focus on the international rules governing the protection of religious and secular beliefs in contemporary Europe.

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