Human Rights Centre

Established in 2011 as an organic consequence of the international recognition of Brunel Law School as a hub for human rights, the Human Rights Centre enjoys close links with the two university centres of the Brunel Law School, the CIPL and the SHRM. At the same time, it has a distinct position as the only centre at Brunel University that focuses on international human rights. It is committed to the advancement of human rights as potential tools for reform, empowerment of marginalised groups, the pursuit of environmental sustainability and the achieving of social justice. It conducts research, produces publications and engages with organisations, academics, students and civil society.

The current expertise of the Centre includes

human rights in criminal justice;

human rights, family and children;

disability rights;

minority and indigenous rights;

LGBT rights;

values, cultural rights and heritage;

debt relief and human rights;

corporate social responsibility and human rights;

environmental issues relating to human rights.

Its members are really prolific and publish regularly at the top human rights journals around the world. The breadth of individual research interests and the diversity of research methodologies is one of the strengths of the Centre. The work of the centre’s members is well-known among academics and practitioners. Bantekas’ papers have been cited among others by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (2009) and in various briefs before national courts. Professor Chigara has worked with the ILO, the OSCE as an independent expert, while he addressed in 2012 the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner’s Inter-governmental working party on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on the combating of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. Xanthaki’s work on indigenous rights has been repeatedly cited in UN documents, and in African Union documents; her collection was cited in the Endorois case (African Commission on Peoples’ and Human Rights).

In addition to the plethora of high quality research pieces, the Centre has also seen the publication of two of the most well-known textbooks in Human Rights worldwide: J Rehman, International Human Rights Law, 2d edition, (Pearson, 2010); and I Bantekas and L Otte, International Human Rights, Law and Practice (CUP, 2013).


The Human Rights Centre enjoys close links with international human rights organisations. Notably, in 2012, the Centre was chosen by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights as the first academic platform to host a United Nations workshop to help the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous peoples to complete their Annual Study submitted to the General Assembly. The workshop on Indigenous Languages and Cultures attracted academics, practitioners, indigenous peoples from all over the world and UN civil servants and was cited in the subsequent UN study submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UN Doc. A/HRC/21/53).



Cultural rights and cultural heritage continue to have a central position in the work of the Human Rights Centre. In May 2015, the Human Rights Centre will host a series of events on the protection of migrants, minorities, diasporas, and their right to their living traditions and other forms of intangible cultural heritage.

The Human Rights Centre also acts as a group for discussion and encouragement among members of staff. Todate, several members of staff (Dimopoulos, Ghazaryan, Polymenopoulou) have presented their work in progress to the group.

The Centre is also an important platform for open university debates in controversial human rights issues. In November 2014, the Centre hosted a Day event that celebrated the Human Rights day. More than 50 academics and Brunel students attended a seminar on Immigration, Asylum seeking and Human Rights.



Indeed, parallel to its scholarly focus, the Centre also aims at supporting actively the development of students’ experience and the teaching in Human Rights issues. Postgraduate students of Brunel Law School benefit actively from the research agenda of the Centre. For example, the postgraduate module of Multiculturalism and Human Rights, developed from the expertise of the members of the Centre in this area, has been given straight 5* by students in 2014. Postgraduate students regularly attend visits to human rights organisations, including the European Court on Human Rights and the International Criminal Court. Many of our PhD students work in human rights issues and are actively involved in the plans of the Centre.

Finally, the Human Rights Centre regularly organises well-attended film series as part of its extra-curricular activities. In the current academic term, a number of films are being screened as part of the series on ‘Live under Totalitarian Regimes’, including ‘The Lives of Others’ 2006, ‘Persepolis’ 2007, and ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ 2007.

Professor Bantekas invited to prestigious workshop

News item

Professor Bantekas has been invited to participate in a workshop held in New York on 12 May 2016, focusing on the intersection of indigenous rights and foreign investment law.

Knowledge of standards and creativity necessary for civil servants working on human rights

News item

Alexandra Xanthaki trained last week European civil servants on human rights issues. Participants from Great Britain, Austria and Georgia updated their knowledge on current standards of human rights and discussed the importance of strategic plans for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Alexandra Xanthaki participates in UN closed Workshop on Indigenous Cultural Heritage

Alexandra Xanthaki was invited to participate in a UN closed workshop hosted by University of Rovaniemi, Finland to help draft a UN Study on Cultural Heritage. Xanthaki argued that UNESCO and WIPO can do more to implement the standards set in the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples.

International Working Group on Child Law, Max Planck Institute of Comparative and Private International Law

Dr Ayesha Shahid has been appointed as National Co-ordinator for Pakistan to write a country report on "Incorporating 'Best Interest of the Child Principle' in Custody and Guardianship Cases", for the Max Planck Institute's International Working Group on Child Law project.

BLS Human Rights Centre celebrates HR Day with conference on Immigration and Asylum

More than 50 people attended the discussion on Immigration and Asylum organised under the aegis of the BLS Human Rights Centre on the 10th December, the Human Rights Day as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. The event sparked a very lively debate.

Page last updated: Thursday 28 May 2015