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Professor named UN Special Rapporteur in rare double for Brunel

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Brunel Law School’s Professor Alexandra Xanthaki has been elected as the United Nations' new Special Rapporteur, giving the school the rare distinction of having two academics working in the prestigious role at the same time.

Prof Xanthaki will take on the role of UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, joining her colleague Professor Javaid Rehman, who was elected as Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran in 2018.

The announcement was made at the 48th Regular Session of the UN’s Human Rights Council.


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Professor Xanthaki was elected UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights

Special Rapporteurs are leading independent human rights experts elected by the UN to report on specific human rights issues. There are currently 55 working around the world, and it is thought that Brunel is now the only UK university to have two of its members active in the roles.

Initially for three years, Prof Xanthaki’s new role will be to promote and protect cultural rights – the right to access and enjoy art and culture of their choosing – and to report on instances where those rights are being violated.

Prof Xanthaki will formally visit two countries a year to monitor and discuss their position on cultural rights and provide technical help to those countries where required. She will also be responsible for communicating with states where specific complaints have been made to the UN on the issue.

The position was previously held by Prof Karima Bennoune from Davis School of Law at the University of California, who is stepping down after seeing out the maximum six-year term in the role.

Prof Xanthaki, Director of Research at Brunel Law School, said: “This is really exciting for me, and very prestigious for Brunel – especially so, as we know have two Special Rapporteurs at the same university.

“Prof Javaid Rehman has been the UN Special Rapporteur in Iran for a couple of years, and whilst Javaid’s position is somewhat different, it is very high level too.  

“To have the particular distinction of two Special Rapporteurs is a real credit to the university’s work and appointments.”

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