Picture of Sara Austin

Sara Austin has become the first alumna of the Master's in International Human Rights Law to see their research turn into reality: what started out as a proposal for a new international instrument in her Oxford dissertation has become UN endorsed protocol.

The new legislation, called the 'Third Optional Protocol' provides for a communications procedure that allows children, groups of children or their representatives to submit a complaint about violations of their rights by their State to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. It also allows any interested party to provide information about grave or systematic violations of chid rights to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (through an inquiry procedure).

The protocol finally went into force this month. Sara explained: “This was a huge win, but the work is far from complete. The original 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified convention in UN history, with only three countries choosing not to ratify. If we can get as many countries to ratify the Third Optional Protocol, it will mean a drastically different future for children worldwide whose lives are marginalized every day.”

The Master's in International Human Rights Law is offered jointly by the Faculty of Law and Department of Continuing Education More information is available on http://ihrlmst.conted.ox.ac.uk/. It is conducted on a part-time basis over 22 months and includes two periods of distance learning via the internet as well as two summer sessions held at New College, Oxford.