02nd May 2023



Engaging with the UN Human Rights Mechanisms

In May 2023, the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham, the Human Rights Implementation Centre at the University of Bristol, and Doughty Street Chambers will be hosting a three-day training course entitled “Engaging with the UN Human Rights Mechanisms”.

Held over three afternoons, the course will provide relevant professionals with practical information about engaging with the UN human rights mechanisms. The course is ideal for civil society, civil servants responsible for leading on state periodic reporting, and the growing number of legal practitioners who are engaging with the reporting, complaints and inquiry work of the UN treaty bodies, UN Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures.

The course is solidly rooted in practice, with each module led by an academic expert and involving two expert practitioner speakers.

Participants have the choice of signing up to one, two or three of the following modules:

• Module 1: The UN Treaty Bodies

• Module 2: The Human Rights Council

• Module 3: Special Procedures

Cost and fees

20 GBP per module OR 45 GBP for all three (conditional upon registration for all three modules at once). Please register via Eventbrite, you will then be contacted by the organisers for payment. Please note that places will only confirmed on receipt of payment

Discounts are available for persons who are unwaged or on benefits. Please contact the organisers at the address below to arrange this.

Register your place here


For more information, please contact: hrlc@nottingham.ac.uk.

Full Course Programme

Module 1: The UN Treaty Bodies (2nd May, 13:00 - 16:00 BST)

This webinar will focus on work with the UN treaty bodies; the independent expert bodies that are mandated to monitor state implementation of international human rights treaties. It will focus in particular on the State reporting processes in relation to those bodies, as well as on the submission of complaints.

Chair: Professor Aoife Nolan, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham

Expert practitioner speakers:

• Jamie Burton KC, Barrister and Head of Community Care and Health Team, Doughty Street Chambers / Chair of Just Fair

• Professor Sandy Liebenberg, Distinguished Professor and HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law, University of Stellenbosch / former member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2017-2020)

Module 2: The Human Rights Council (9th May 13:00 - 16:00 BST)

This webinar will address strategies for engagement with the Human Rights Council, the primary political UN body for the promotion and protection of human rights, and the value of engaging with its Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

Chair: Professor Sangeeta Shah, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham

Expert practitioner speakers:

• Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights.

• Professor Jon Yorke, Professor of Human Rights, Birmingham City University.

Module 3: Special Procedures (25th May 14:00 - 17:00 BST)

This webinar will centre on engagement with the UN special procedure mandate holders, with practical guidance from those with expert knowledge of how to engage with the mandate holders including in the submission of communications.

Chair: Professor Rachel Murray, Human Rights Implementation Centre, University of Bristol

Expert practitioner speakers:

• Leilani Farha, Global Director, The Shift / former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing

• Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, Barrister and Head of International Media Defence Team, Doughty Street Chambers.

Course leader biographies

Rachel Murray

Rachel Murray is Professor of International Human Rights Law at the University of Bristol and Director of its Human Rights Implementation Centre. Rachel undertakes regular work on the African human rights system, implementation of human rights law, OPCAT and torture prevention, among other areas, and has written widely in these areas. She also advises national, regional and international organisations, including the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and UN treaty bodies and special procedures. She engages with governments, civil society organisations and individuals on human rights law and undertakes consultancies for regional and international organisations, including the UN and OSCE. She has held a number of grants, including a major grant from the UK Economic Social and Research Council on implementation which tracked decisions from the regional and UN treaty bodies to examine the extent to which the States have complied with them (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/hrlip/). She was formally the Vice Chair of the Board of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, is a Fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex and Deputy Leader of Doughty Street Chambers’ International team. She is also a magistrate sitting in Bristol.

Aoife Nolan

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham. Professor Nolan’s professional experience in human rights and constitutional law straddles the legal, policy, practitioner and academic fields. She is President of the Council of Europe's European Committee of Social Rights, which she joined in 2017. She has published extensively in the areas of human rights and constitutional law, particularly in relation to economic and social rights and children’s rights. Professor Nolan has acted as an expert advisor to a wide range of international and national organisations and bodies working on economic and social rights and children’s rights issues, including numerous UN Special Procedures, UN treaty bodies, the Council of Europe, the World Bank multiple NHRIs and NGOs. She has held visiting positions at academic institutions in Europe, Africa, the US and Australia. She is an Academic Expert member at Doughty Street Chambers where she co-leads the Children’s Rights Group.

Sangeeta Shah

Sangeeta Shah is Professor of International Law & Human Rights and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham. She is the co-editor of the leading international human rights law textbook published by Oxford University Press and has published widely in the areas of international law, the United Nations and human rights. Her recent work has focussed on the operation of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process. She has contributed to trainings on international human rights law and engaging with UN processes for a range of actors from diplomats and national judges to African prison officers. She is currently providing advisory services to an NGO coalition that is seeking to increase ratifications of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance.

Expert practitioner biographies

Jamie Burton

Head of Doughty Street Chamber’s Community Care and Health Team, Jamie is a leading authority on health and social care, homelessness, social security and the rights of disabled people, children and migrants. He is an expert in judicial review and regularly appears in the higher courts, including the Supreme Court. Jamie acted for the Claimants in many of the highest profile cases during the pandemic and the costs of living crisis. Jamie is also Chair and co-founder of ‘Just Fair’, a registered charity that works exclusively on human rights issues, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. Just Fair has had a significant impact on the public debate on human rights in the UK. It has produced several landmark reports on the housing crisis, food poverty and disability rights. Jamie represents Just Fair at the UN and in 2016 he made submissions to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights about the UK’s compliance with its human rights obligations. In 2022, he made a central contribution to the Just Fair-coordinated independent parallel report to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Behalf of civil society in England and Wales.

Leilani Farha

Leilani Farha is the Global Director of The Shift, an international human rights organization focused on housing. She was the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing from 2014 – 2020. Leilani’s work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, not a commodity and that homelessness can be solved by 2030. She has helped develop global human rights standards on a variety of topical, thematic issues, including the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing. She recently co-authored a Protocol on a human rights-based approach to homeless encampments and The Shift Directives, the first human rights guidance for governments and investors on the financialization of housing. She is the central character in the award-winning documentary film, PUSH, and co-hosts PUSHBACK Talks, a podcast about finance, housing, and human rights. Leilani is also a Commissioner at the International Commission of Jurists.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher

Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC is an international human rights lawyer and barrister. Over the past 20 years she has acted in many landmark human rights cases in the UK and internationally, before the European Court of Human Rights, international courts and UN bodies. She has acted for, and secured the freedom of, many arbitrarily detained journalists, activists and human rights defenders around the world, including in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Caoilfhionn has extensive experience in using the UN Special Procedures in a range of cases, particularly concerning media freedom, women’s rights and children’s rights.

Caoilfhionn’s current cases in this field include leading the international legal teams for media owner Jimmy Lai, imprisoned in Hong Kong; for the bereaved family of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, assassinated in Malta in 2017; and (jointly with Amal Clooney) for Maria Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize winning journalist in the Philippines. Caoilfhionn has given expert evidence on accountability for crimes against journalists and gender-based violence against women journalists to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UNESCO and Parliamentary inquiries in the UK, Australia and the Council of Europe. Caoilfhionn is also Ireland’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and sits part-time as a Coroner in England and Wales.

Sandra Liebenberg

Prof Sandra Liebenberg is Distinguished Professor and HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Her field of expertise straddles both constitutional and international human rights law. Her research focuses on economic, social and cultural rights as well as the rights to equality and non-discrimination, a healthy environment, and sustainable development. She is a former member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2017 – 2020), and served as Vice-Chair of this body from 2019 – 2020. During her term on CESCR she was the Committee’s first Rapporteur on follow-up to Concluding Observations and served on its Working Group on Communications. From 1995 – 1996 she was appointed to the four-member Legal Technical Committee advising South Africa’s Constitutional Assembly on the drafting of the Bill of Rights in the post-apartheid 1996 Constitution. She was one of the two lead drafters of the Principles and Guidelines of the Implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted in 2010 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. She has extensive experience in public interest litigation, human rights training and education, and advice to State institutions, government departments, inter-governmental organisations and civil society organisations.

Phil Lynch

Phil is the Director of the International Service for Human Rights. Under Phil’s stewardship, ISHR has contributed significantly to the development of international and national standards and laws on the protection of human rights defenders. Before joining ISHR in 2013, Phil founded and led the award-winning Human Rights Law Centre and Homeless Law in Australia. He is a former member of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency Advisory Board and of the Australian Government Human Rights Grants Scheme Expert Panel. He has been conferred with numerous human rights and leadership awards. Phil holds an LLB (Hons) and an MPPM from the University of Melbourne.

Jon Yorke

Jon Yorke is the Professor of Human Rights in the School of Law and the Director of the Centre for Human Rights (CHR). He has advised the United Nations and the European Union, and numerous governments including, Gambia, Myanmar, Spain and the United Kingdom. He has acted in human rights cases in the United States, Sudan, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and has submitted amicus curiae briefs in death penalty cases. He has been awarded multiple Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) grants for projects to protect human rights in Sudan, and has worked on EU funded projects for the representation of capital defendants in foreign jurisdictions. His current EHRC funded project ‘Universal Periodic Review 2022 - Civil Society Engagement’ focuses upon the United Kingdom’s Fourth Cycle review in the UPR. This project has engaged UK parliamentarians, the legal profession, and CSOs.