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Rights and Freedoms Cluster

Rights and Freedoms Cluster

Led by Professor Jill Marshall and Dr Leonardo VP de Oliveira, the Rights and Freedoms research cluster is active in a variety of international, national and local projects producing excellent research.

We are proud that Royal Holloway’s stunning main campus is located close to Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. The Magna Carta is recognised as one of the foundation stones of justice and the international rights movements.

Building on this important heritage, our cluster engages in impactful research spanning a number of disciplines. The cluster comprises a mixture of academics from law, criminology, social work and social policy, researching:

  1. the role law, society and culture play in the creation and protection of personal freedoms and corresponding rights, globally and nationally, from theoretical, doctrinal and critical perspectives;
  2. cultural, including intellectual property, rights;
  3. access to justice and private law rights in their social context.

The Cluster provides a forum for members for exchange ideas, share information and support one another's research through collaboration and peer review.

Together with Prof Nicholas P. Miller, Dr Alexis Artaud de La Ferrière is co-director of the Religious Liberty & COVID-19 research project. This is a joint effort by an interdisciplinary group of international scholars, professors, and lawyers to monitor the impact of public health guidelines and restrictions on the worship and faith practices of religious groups and individuals. The project is initially focused on monitoring developments in the United States and the countries of the European Union. It is currently a project of the International Religious Liberty Institute based at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in collaboration with scholars and lawyers who are part of the panel of experts of the International Religious Liberty Association.

Prof. Jill Marshall (co-I) was awarded an EPSRC, SPRITE+ research grant of approximately £30,000 for the project "First RespondXR: Digital vulnerability of immersive training for first responders". This project was the first to map the vulnerability space (i.e., its social, technical, legal, ethical risks and impacts), from the perspective of (a) those delivering the training, (b) the first responders who will be undertaking this training, and (c) the technical teams bringing forward new training methodologies in XR.

Dr. Eugenio Vaccari, together with Prof Laura Coordes (Arizona State University) and Dr Yseult Marique (University of Essex) was awarded a grant from INSOL International to conduct a project titled "When Liquidation is Not an Option" on the treatment of local public entities in distress. This research project analyses the impact of the financial distress of local public entities (LPEs). The treatment of LPEs in distress is a significantly under-researched area of insolvency and public law, particularly outside the US. This project is the first to examine the treatment of distressed LPEs on a global scale and the first to attempt to articulate unifying principles and standards for the laws and regulations governing the financial distress of LPEs. This project also seeks to include participants from countries with varied economic and governmental structures. The findings of the project were presented at the INSOL International Academics Colloquium in June 2022 (see here), and they will result in an edited book to be published towards the end of 2022.

Professor Jill Marshall led the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) college cluster on human rights during 2018-2021. GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. This fund creates complementary programmes that promote challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and strengthens capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries through partnership with excellent UK research and researchers. Royal Holloway’s Global Challenges Research Fund strategy submitted to Research England was highlighted in 2018 as one of ten commended university strategies. The Human Rights cluster is one of the areas championed under this strategy.

Dr Josephine Ndagire (Makerere University) and Professor Marshall were awarded a GCRF/Academy of Medical Sciences networking grant from 2019 to 2021 “Infusing Law and Policy with the Voices of Displaced Survivors of Sexual Violence in Conflict”. An art exhibition of the stories of the survivors portrayed by a young Ugandan artist King took place in Kampala in April 2021. The project involved workshops with trainers of judges and officials on gender sensitivity in the Great Lakes area of Central/East Africa, and with survivors of sexual violence from Northern Uganda. The project has been presented at the Law and Society Association conference and the Research Network for Law, Gender and Sexuality (Research Lex) in 2021. The project impacted the social well-being of survivors of sexual violence in the regions and linked the arts to social sciences and law at a national and international level.

Dr Eugenio Vaccari recently showcased the impact of his research on corporate rescue procedures in the Creditor Bargain Podcast - more information here.

On 4 April 2022, the Rights and Freedoms Research Cluster in the Department of Law and Criminology at Royal Holloway, University of London, hosted a half-day conference to debate two topics in two panels. The first panel addressed international legal perspectives on the Afghanistan situation. The second focused on the contemporary issues in business and human rights. The summary of the conference is available here.

The Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law (CSEL) is co-directed by Prof Jill Marshall and Prof Amina Memon from Psychology. CSEL provides an interdisciplinary platform connected to the Rights and Freedoms research cluster. CSEL hosted Prof Gísli Gudjónsson CBE at our 2022 Annual Lecture (rescheduled from 2020 due to COVID19). On 8 February 2022, Gísli delivered a lecture titled “The battle for justice in cases of false confession: an international perspective”. 

The full schedule of events for the spring term of the academic year 2021/22 can be found below:

DATE: 2nd February 2022 - TIME: 13.00-14.00

  • SPEAKER: Sapan Maini-Thompson
  • TITLE: ‘Implementation of facial recognition technology in British policing’

DATE: 4th April 2022 - TIME: 13:30-16:30

  • Half-day conference on contemporary issues in Business and Human Rights, with a particular focus on the Afghan situation;
  • SPEAKERS: Prof Jill Marshall, Dr Alexander Gilder, Dr Mohammad Sabuj, Dr Aldo Zammit Borda, Dr Irene Antonopoulos, Dr Sufyan El Droubi, Mr Paul Kinninmont.

The members of the cluster took part in a series of conferences, events and symposia in the first half of 2022. A selected list of the most relevant events is reported below:

  • Dr Eugenio Vaccari delivered a guest lecture on restructuring procedures at Goldsmiths, University of London (see here). He also took part in a visiting lectureship at the University of Paris Nanterre, where he presented a paper titled: 'The Impact of Brexit on Company and Insolvency Law' (see here). Dr Eugenio Vaccari also took part in a month-long visiting lectureship at the University of Milano Bicocca, where he presented a paper titled: 'The impact of EU law on the evolution of the English corporate insolvency framework' (see here). Finally, Dr Eugenio Vaccari was invited to present at the Master en Reestructuraciones Empresariales (MRE) organised by the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid on the topic of recent developments in restructuring procedures in the UK.

The full schedule of events for the autumn term of the academic year 2021-22 can be found below:

DATE: 13th October 2021 - TIME: 13.00-14.00

  • SPEAKER: Dr Irene Antonopoulos RHUL Law and Criminology
  • TITLE: ‘Climate change’ and ‘human rights’ finally meet before the European Court of Human Rights. What to expect when you are expecting a court decision?’

DATE: 27TH October 2021 - TIME: 13.00-14.00

  • SPEAKER: Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci, Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow in Public International Law, British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • TITLE: ‘Determinants of Anti-Trafficking Efforts: How far does international law go?’

DATE: 10th November 2021 - TIME: 13.00-14.00

  • SPEAKERS: Dr Eugenio Vaccari RHUL Law and Criminology and Dr Carlo Corcione (D'Amato Shipping)
  • TITLE: “On the Nature of Admiralty and Cross-Border Insolvency Law, and on their Interaction”

DATE: 24th November 2021 - TIME: 13.00-14.00

  • SPEAKER: Dr Jane Marriott RHUL Law and Criminology
  • TITLE: On Human Rights, the pandemic and care homes

The academic year 2020-21 meant our seminars were all online. Our Autumn seminar was led by Dr Mark Berry who presented his work on the ethics and challenges of semi-covert research with active offenders. At our Winter seminar, in January 2021, we heard from Dr. Ryan Hill, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. Dr. Hill’s paper "Challenging the Right to Offend Religious Sensibilities in the Face of Foreseeable Harm" was based on his article published in the Law & Justice - Christian Law Review.

We had an active work-in-progress seminar series during the 2019-20 academic year, particularly aimed at encouraging Early Career Academics.

Dr Foivi Mouzakiti and Dr Alexander Gilder presented their current research at our Christmas seminar in December 2019. Foivi Mouzakiti discussed the EU’s legal framework for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing and the privacy and data protection implications that arise from the operations of the UK’s Financial Intelligence Unit which falls under the remit of the National Crime Agency. Alexander Gilder presented on the legal consequences of UN peace operations that pursue ‘stabilization’. Alex outlined concerns over increased militarisation, UN support for counter-terrorism, and heightened cooperation with the host state.

Dr Leonardo de Oliveira, Dr Simon Behrman, Dr Alexander Gilder, Dr Mohammad Sabuj presented on their international justice work at our Spring 2020 Seminar. Dr Evgenia Korkodeilou presented her work on stalking and Dr Lawrence Newport on the execution of Charles I at our Summer Seminar 2020, all of these took place online in our new COVID-19 environment.

Professor Jill Marshall presented her research on Burqa bans and legal restrictions on women’s dress at a conference organised and hosted by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in May 2020. This was the first time Jill presented at, and attended, a conference via Zoom. This brought together international scholars contributing to an edited collection Law, Cultural Studies and the Burqa Ban: An Interdisciplinary Handbook (Anja Matwijkiw & Anna Oriolo eds., Intersentia).

Dr Mohammad Sabuj organised a Writing Retreat in early summer and many of us found this invaluable during lockdown using our imaginations to recreate a communal physical space for contemplation and immersive writing in a supportive environment. Our PhD students commented especially on its usefulness.

Dr Alexis Artaud de la Ferriere was appointed in September 2021 to the FoRB Working Group, G20 Interfaith Forum. He recently became board member of the Association Française de Sciences Sociales des Religions and an editorial board member of the peer-reviewed journal Social Sciences and Missions. Alexis is co-convenor of the Religious Liberty and Covid-19 Research Project, and was recently appointed as member of the "Group of Experts" in the International Religious Liberty Association. 

Victims of Stalking: Case Studies in Invisible Harms by Dr Evgenia (Jenny) Korkodeilou has recently been published. Her monograph provides an in-depth look at the impact of stalking and criminal justice system responses to this form of abuse.

Professor Jill Marshall has been appointed a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) for 2021-22. She has recently published: Personal Identity and the European Court of Human Rights (Routledge 2022) - available here. Jill is editor and author of two chapters in this edited collection. It is the first book in her new series Routledge Studies in Law and Humanity. Please contact Jill if you have a book proposal in this area.

Dr Foivi Mouzakiti was recently awarded a small grant from the Society of Legal Scholars Small Projects and Events Funds.

Dr Aislinn O'Connell, together with Dr Ksenia Bakina of Privacy International, have developed a project highlighting the lack of mechanisms available to victims of image-based sexual abuse (so-called ‘revenge porn’) to remove their images from online. The project was published in Legal Studies, where it was one of the most-downloaded outputs of 2021. Dr O’Connell has also published a related paper on Image Rights, which is among the 5% of all outputs scored by Altmetric.

Together with Sara Hourani, Dr. Leonardo De Oliveira has recently co-edited the book Access to Justice in Arbitration: Concept, Context and Practice (Wolters Kluwer, 2021). This is a compendium of essays by arbitral practitioners, academics, and arbitral institution officials presenting, for the first time, an in-depth analysis of the role access to justice plays in arbitration. He has also co-written the chapter titled  ‘The Brazilian Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Agreement as a model for Latin America?’, available in S el Droubi and CJ Flores Elizondo (eds), Latin American Perspectives to International Investment Law, Melland Schill Perspectives to International Law (Manchester University Press 2022).

Dr Mohammad Sabuj recently published a monograph titled Legitimacy of Use of Force in Public and Islamic International Law (Palgrave Macmillan 2021). The monograph explores the legitimacy of Use of Force, one of the most contested topics in current international affairs. It analyses the differences between two potentially conflicting legal systems, proposing how the two could be complementary. It argues how different cultural and religious views can lead to different interpretations of what forms of power people believe to be justified.

The Rights and Freedoms Research Cluster within the Department of Law and Criminology at Royal Holloway, University of London engages in impactful, multi-disciplinary research. The cluster provides a forum for its members to share ideas and information, as well as to support each other’s research.

The cluster members have expertise, which spans through a variety of disciplines and subjects. In this section, we have uploaded some recent interviews with three newly appointed lecturers at the Department of Law and Criminology: Dr Irene Antonopoulos,  Dr Eugenio Vaccari and Dr Gauri Sinha. These interviews show the links between the cluster members’ research and social justice issues in the areas of human rights and environmental protection, the treatment of debtors and creditors in insolvency, and company's reactive behaviour to changes in financial regulation.

To watch the first two interviews, please click on this link. The third interview with Dr Gauri Sinha is available here.

Victoria Adkins: The Birds and the Bees…and the Artificial Womb

Alexandra Aldridge: F***ing and being f***ed: towards a sexual ethics of sex on drugs

Ali Chaudhry: The Legal Fiction of Personhood in English Law: A History, Conceptual Analysis and Examination of its Modern Applications

Isabella Da Re: Conceptualising ‘Female Suffering’: Reconciling Gynocentric Realities of Suffering with the International Prohibition of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Kenneth Ghartey: Reconciling Arbitrability, Party Autonomy and Access to Justice in the Use of Arbitration in Cross-Border Insolvency Disputes

Maria Javed

Karl Mason: How does homelessness impact on the experience of having care needs: what do adults with experience of homelessness and care needs say about these experiences?

Anna Pathé-Smith: Pregnancy and the law - how are pregnant persons conceptualised in law?

Jeremy Woloszyn: The Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales

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