UCL Institute for Human Rights



The UCL IHR holds a series of symposia every year exploring a series of prominent human-rights topics

Some of these symposia will be by invitation only and others will be open to the general public. We hope to uncover areas of discussion which are untouched in other human-rights circles and to engage controversy whenever this can give rise to fruitful discussion and future research.

The Institute for Human Rights Symposia are generously supported by the Pentland Group. 

The Ethics of Human Right Philanthropy

29 May 2012

About the event:

This final Symposium from the Pentland Symposium series addressed the ethical challenges presented by philanthropy towards human rights organisations, both academic and non-academic. It considered recent charges that this kind of philanthropic giving distorts national politics; academic priorities; and undermines the will of Parliament.

Against the background of the Woolf report, the panel considered the ethics of philanthropic giving and how this form of funding might be treated so as to avoid accusations of bias, ‘opinion-buying’, and research agenda setting by donors.


Sigrid Rausing (Rausing Trust) Professor Jonathan Wolff (UCL Philosophy) Anthony Tomei (Director, Nuffield Foundation) Dr George Letsas (UCL Laws)

Chaired by Professor Philippe Sands QC

Further information:

UCL Event blog by Claire Lougarre


Prospects for Economic and Social Human Rights Country Indicators

14th October 2011

About the conference: Can we develop accurate and useful indicators for economic and social human rights? Can we score countries on their economic and social rights achievements? What would be the requisites and aims of an economic and social rights dataset? What kind of international questions would such a dataset inform?The implementation of human rights standards in different societies implies that we can make judgements about the observance of human rights obligations by states. Such judgements, however, have to be made on the basis of more than the declarations of governments or even their legal commitments. It must be possible both to describe and prescribe institutional and policy measures that constitute clear observance of these obligations. Whilst some significant work has been done to develop civil and political rights indicators, scoring the human rights performance of specific territories, not enough work has been done outlining and defining indicators for economic and social human rights. This symposium brings together leading experts in the field to discuss past and current initiatives and desiderata for an economic and social human rights dataset.

Venue: UCL Faculty of Laws

Confirmed Speakers: Professor Todd Landman (University of Essex), Dr Polly Vizard (LSE), Professor David Cingranelli (University of Binghamton), Dr Rodwan Abouharb (UCL), Professor Indra de Soyza (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Saladin Meckled-Garcia (UCL)

Law, Religion and Education Conference

8 & 9 October 2010 (in collaboration with the UCL Centre for Global Laws & La Maison Française d'Oxford)

About the Conference: Religion has returned forcefully both as a subject of academic debate, as a lived reality in contemporary societies and as a renewed challenge for secular systems of governance.  The Conference will examine the relationships between "Law, Religion and Education", addressing the accommodation of religious diversity as well as the content and meaning of education, notably religious education, in a human rights context.

The topic addressed and examined over two days is full of tensions and complex issues.  It is also extremely newsworthy.  In the Lautsi case at the European Court of Human Rights it was recently held that the presence of crucifixes in the classroom at State schools was contrary to the State's duty of neutrality and violated the plaintiff's right to freedom of religion under Article 9 of the Convention.

In a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective, this extremely timely project will study the key concepts of laïcité, discrimination and religious freedom; it will present the different models of religious regulation adopted in Europe and different models of Church-State relations.  General sessions will be followed by case studies targeting topical and controversial issues raised in various European jurisdiction under three different fheadings: defining religious beliefs, defining teaching content and religious symbols.

Who Should Attend: The conference will be attended by academics, legal practitioners, NGOs and policy makers given ongoing discussion on bills before the French and British parliaments.

Venue: Maison Française d'Oxford, 2-10 Norham Road, OXFORD OX2 6SE

Confirmed Speakers: Prominent Law and Religion experts and academics including: Professor Norman Doe, Professor Lucy Vickers, Professor Christopher McCrudden Peter Cumper, Professor Heinrich de Wall, Professor Michael Freeman, Dr Russell Sandberg, Dr Javier Oliva. Also, Dr Lorenzo Zucca, Dr Sylvie Langlaude, Dr Kerem Altiparmak, Professor Marco Ventura, Dr Arif Amal, Maleiha Malik, Dr Alison Mawhinney, Dr George Letsas, Dr Tobias Lock, and Professor Mark Hill QC.

The Idea of Human Rights & Foreign Policy

15 June 2010 (in collaboration with King's College & the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE)

This one-day symposium brought together leading theorists of politics and law to discuss the nature and importance of human rights.

The symposium was followed by a free public event at UCL to which 150 public guests came.  Speakers from the symposium discussed their positions on human rights and answered questions from the audience. The chair of the public event was Leif Wenar of King's College London.

Symposium Papers

  • Katrin Flikschuh (LSE) & Charles Beitz (Princeton) "Scepticism about Human Rights”
  • Joseph Raz (Oxford & Columbia) & David Held (LSE) “Human Rights in the Emerging World Order”
  • John Tasioulas (Oxford) & Saladin Meckled-Garcia (UCL) “Human Rights: An Orthodox View”
  • Henry Shue (Oxford) & Margot Salomon (LSE) “Human Rights, Climate Change, and the Trillionth Ton”

Special Symposia

Occasionally the Institute organises special symposia events which are not part of our regular series (the Pentland Symposia Series). These bring together groups of experts in workshops to develop research programmes on a focused theme.