I am fortunate to be the recipient of one of two UNIDROIT scholarships awarded for the 2015/2016 academic year. The scholarship has supported my MPhil research in the area of international labour law, and in particular the way in which the European Court of Human Rights uses other international instruments, such as the European Social Charter and International Labour Organisation Conventions, in adjudicating disputes under Article 11 ECHR which protects the right to freedom of association.

My research to date has enabled me to begin to develop an account of why the Court refers to such instruments in Article 11 judgments and how much influence the standards of non-ECHR bodies exert on the development of ECHR principles. I hope that these findings will provide a good basis for my DPhil research project, which will explore the relationship between ECHR, ESC, ILO and EU labour law provisions in the context of the broader debate on the fragmentation in international law and the separation of civil and political, and social and economic, rights. In effect, this project will be an inquiry into the desirability of the convergence of international law norms in this area of labour law and the integration of socio-economic rights into instruments which traditionally protect civil and political rights. The UNIDROIT scholarship has enabled me to benefit from the special learning environment at Oxford: not only have I been able to pursue this project under the supervision of leading academics, but I have also had the opportunity to participate in discussion groups such as the Labour Law Discussion Group and, importantly, to meet and exchange ideas with fellow students. Over the course of the year, I was also able to attend conferences in Oxford, Cagliari and Paris and develop relationships with other legal scholars working in the area of labour law and other fields. These experiences have been formative in that they have exposed me to other fields relevant to my ongoing research and have encouraged me to approach legal scholarship with curiosity and open-mindedness. The ability of research students to pursue projects like mine and to benefit from this type of intellectual and professional development heavily depends on the continued support of bodies such as UNIDROIT. I am therefore grateful to the organisation for its generosity and hope that the partnership between UNIDROIT and the Faculty of Law will continue to benefit young legal scholars.

Kalina Arabadjieva