Event Date: 

09/7/18 to 09/8/18

Location name: 

Edinburgh, Scotland


Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI)


The Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI) calls for the submission of proposals for papers to be presented at the general AHRI Human Rights Research Conference to be hosted by

the Global Justice Academy at the University of Edinburgh Law School in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 7


8 September 2018:

This year we celebrate the 70 th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). At the time of its adoption, none of the drafters nor the UN General Assembly could have calculated the movement, norms, and practice relating to human rights for people across the globe that would grow from the document. Across every country, grassroots campaigners and civil society work to combat inequality across a host of civil, political, social, economic and cultural fronts. All 193 Members States of the United Nations are examined periodically with reference to the UDHR. Nine core human rights treaties and a number of further optional protocols have been agreed to give legal force to the promises set out in the UDHR. Governance of the international human rights system is overse en by treaty bodies, national human rights institutions, and other UN bodies. Each of these aspects of the grand human rights system has met unrelenting challenges and the 70th anniversary of the UDHR presents a perfect opportunity to take stock of how far we have come and how far we have to go.


At the same time, h uman rights is a constantly expanding field with new issues for discussion and

debate arising daily. The AHRI conference is placed ideally to provide a platform for discussion, debate and advanced - thinking about the both the particular challenge which human rights now face, and innovative ways in which they may be addressed. In 2018 we would like to build on prev

ious AHRI conference themes and apply them to the current context.


Human rights appear peculiarly under threat in a global, structural way. Transitions to democracy in

which rights were seen as central, have not tracked smoothly forward, but suffer ‘democratic

regression’; western liberal states who long promoted rights now appear to be at a new crossroads

in which populism goes hand-in-hand with dismantling rights commitments. Rising new powers

increasingly seek to play a part in global politics, but with questions about the normative commitments underlying their normative interventions. At the same time, there has been talk of revisiting the UDHR and the UN mechanisms to make them more relevant an enterprise that risks retreat even as it tries to ensure advancement


Human rights discourse and the treaty machinery also come up against a different form of challenge in the form of new ‘regimes’ such as responsibility to protect, or the women, peace and security agenda, which can undermine tried and tested forms of human rights law and mechanisms.

Those at the heart of the UN Institutions to protect human rights express disillusionment.

Against this backdrop, we take the 70th anniversary of the UDHR as a starting point, and aim

to address key aspects and themes in the field which connect to our turbulent times

and promise to promote lively engagement and discussion.


As the largest inter-disciplinary and general research conference on human rights, the AHRI 2018 Conference welcomes both individual papers and panels exploring the themes set out below. The 70th anniversary of the UDHR is the leading overall theme, but proposals do not need to be limited to that because the AHRI research conference will be a general platform for discussing new human rights research. The six primary tracks are framed to capture both the tedium and triumph that the human rights system is experiencing 70 years after its inception.


Preference will be given to strong proposals falling within one of the following six tracks, under which several panels will be organised:

1. Revisiting Human Rights Machinery: Mission, Message and Relevance

The 70 th anniversary of the UDHR presents the prime opportunity to not only reflect on the wide

ranging developments that have been achieved in its shadow, but also to assess critically

how to maintain a progressive and stable human rights protection system.This track invites submissions examining existing human rights international and regional regimes in relation and juxtaposition to the UDHR. It is intended that this track will enable an assessment of various regimes in the contemporary context as well as invite critical discussion of contested spaces in international governance.


2.Protecting Human Rights for States and Peoples in Modern Conflict or Transition

Modern conflict and its aftermath have presented a wide range of new challenges to the promotion

and protection of human rights. Contemplating the various challenges to human rights precipitated

by states and peoples in modern conflict or in transition from conflict or authoritarianism or indeed

in other forms of global political transition. This track seeks to explore the contributory and critical

perspectives of human rights in both political and social conflict and transitional settings.

Submissions are welcomed on a variety of issues ranging from the decoupling of the

political relationships of states (such as with Brexit or in a post-conflict context) and the

incidental effects on individuals (such as forced migration, refugees and integration of migrants).


3. Tensions between Individual and Collective Rights In light of the various tensions stemming from nationalist and anti-rights movements across the globe, this track invites submissions exploring how the fundamental principles of the UDHR can still be protected. It also envisions questions about other visions of collective rights, such as indigenous rights or collective security.


4. Emerging Norms and the Advance or Retreat of Human Rights Recent and emerging  developments in rights and their protection will be the focus of this track. Submissions may consider new substantive norms or evolutive and expansive interpretations and incarnations of UDHR norms.


5. Non-state Actors and Human Rights Protection This track welcomes submissions looking at the positive and negative impacts of various non-state actors on human rights. While civil society, including NGOs and NHRIs, have sought to positively influence and promote human rights protection, corporations and terrorist organisations have wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of many individuals. To what extent can both positive and negative influences be contextualised? And, more controversially, when do the roles reverse?


6. Peace Processes, Peace Agreements, Inclusion and Human Rights Peace processes often aim to protect rights through ending violence, and by providing for new human rights and new human rights institutions.This track welcomes submissions questioning how effective are these provisions, what relationship do they have to the ‘political deal’ which is being reached, and to what extent are there tensions between human rights and pragmatic negotiations to end conflict?




Interested participants should submit by email one unified document including:

1) title of paper or panel

2) a clear indication of the track to which the paper belongs,

3) an abstract of no more than 300 words (per abstract in the case of panels)

4) author name, affiliation and short biographical details, 5) contact details.\


Papers can be presented on any topic related to human rights and should be unpublished.

Interdisciplinary projects and jointly authored papers are welcomed (with the proviso that only one

person will be allowed to present).


Proposals for entire panels are equally welcome, indicating the title, abstract and author of each

paper. Note: a panel consists of 3 speakers and 1 proposed discussant may be indicated.


Alternatively, panels of four speakers (without a discussant, so as to allow sufficient time for discussion) might be considered. To ensure diversity in all respects, panels which are a mix of male

female and consist of researchers from different research institutions will be given precedence.

Researchers at all career stages, from PhD students to full professors, are invited to submit.




The deadline for submission of abstracts and panel proposals is 5 March 2018


Submissions should be sent to


All abstracts will be reviewed by the AHRI Programme Committee and selections announced

no later than 6 April 2018 with completed papers of approximately 6000 words due at the end of July (date to be confirmed by panel chairs). Formal registration for the conference will be possible from mid-March onwards.


For practical questions about the conference and for questions related to the submission of papers

and the overall conference programme, please contact us at



questions relating to AHRI , including admission of new member institutions, please contact

Elaine Webster,

Executive Sec

retary for AHRI, at




The AHRI 2018 conference is hosted by the Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh Law

School, and will take place on 7 - 8 September 2018. The conference coincides with the reopening of the Law School’s original home in The Old College, which dates from 1789 and

has been undergoing renovation over the past several years. Additionally, the conference will

mark the official Edinburgh launch of the Political Settlements Research Programme’s PA-X Peace Agreements Database (PA-X) database on the 6 September (

The database lists all the peace agreements between 1990 and the present day which have provisions on women, gender or sexual violence


ll AHRI conference participants are also invited. All AHRI participants are invited to join an evening reception on 6 September , which will mark both the launch of the database and the opening of the

2018 conference. The conference is open to both AHRI and non- AHRI members and aims to bring together both junior and senior academics and practitioners to present innovative human rights research in the law, the humanities, the social sciences and other disciplines. Travel and accommodation costs are expected to be covered by the participants themselves.

Individual bursaries may be available for applicants from developing countries . A registration fee of

70 EUR (65 GBP) will cover amenities and lunches during both days of the conference. A conference dinner and ceilidh (traditional Scottish country dancing event) will be held the evening of

7 September, and participants can register for this when registering for the conference.