Under its aegis, the new Institute will produce, and deploy in the field, academic research of such calibre that the lives of men, women and children worldwide will be improved.
We are thrilled to welcome Justice Kate O'Regan as the inaugural Director of the newly established Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, hosted by the Faculty of Law. Kate commenced her appointment in October 2016. The University of Oxford has awarded her the title of Professor of Human Rights Law, recognising her distinguished career as a scholar, practitioner and judge including a fifteen year term of office as a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
Kate's role as Director will be to provide overall leadership, to promote and develop activities and to shape the strategic role of the centre. Kate's aim is to foster open, civil and frank engagement with those working within the field of human rights. There will be a focus to build collaborative and reinforcing relationships with colleagues already engaged in human rights research and teaching at the Faculty of Law and beyond. Kate has spent her first weeks information-gathering and introducing herself to colleagues both inside and outside of Oxford, in order to discuss the strategic role of the Institute. She explains that;
It has been a busy few weeks since I arrived in Oxford. I am very grateful to the many members of the Faculty and Mansfield College for the warm and supportive welcome I have received.
The Institute itself will be located at Mansfield College, with the current building work is due to complete September 2017, with occupancy starting October 2017. The Institute's home at Mansfield will be central to it's identity and an important factor in the Institute's ability to attract visiting scholars. It will also be crucial to hosting important symposia and conferences. Mansfield's Principal, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC has been the driving force behind the establishment of the Institute, working collaboratively with the Faculty of Law and promoting Oxford as a focal point for human rights scholarship. She explains that;
The Rule of Law and the protection of human rights is fundamental to stable societies. We only have to look at fragile legal systems around the world to see why law and independent lawyers and judges matter. On arriving at Oxford to be Principal at Mansfield College, I knew that this had to be the big goal - to leave behind an Institute of Human Rights in one of the greatest law faculties in the world, located in the most perfect of colleges and supported by people who care about justice.
The Institute has four goals:
1) Establishing a community of scholars
The Institute will establish a vibrant, collegial community of scholars and practitioners and to foster collaboration, innovation and global networks. In particular the Institute will seek to foster collaboration between human rights lawyers in practice, including judges and scholars.
2) Hosting lively intellectual events
The Institute would like to be recognised as a place that hosts engaging intellectual events relating to human rights law, including lectures, conversations, discussions, conferences and symposia. The first will include a lecture discussing Stephen Jensen's new book 'The Making of International Rights: The 1960's, Decolonization and the Reconstruction of Global Values' at All Souls College, Oxford. In May 2017, the first of a series of conversations will be held on 'adjudicating human rights' with Dame Sian Elias, Chief Justice of New Zealand.
3) Enriching the experience of graduate students
The Institute will enhance the experience of graduate students working in the broad field of human rights at the Faculty of Law, not only by providing them with a collegial working space and access to many of the Institute's events, but also by providing a range of opportunities that will enable graduate students to think about the application if human rights law in practice. This will be achieved by giving them the opportunities to be exposed to human rights law in practice including a series of travelling interships for graduate students from the Faculty and developing graduate participation in Human Rights Moots, such as the Price Moot competition and the Nelson Mandella Human Rights Moot competition, organised by the Centre for Human Rights at the Univesity of Pretoria.
4) Fostering collaborative world-class research in human rights law
The Institute will encourage collaborative research initiatives between scholars at Oxford and other institutions in the broad field of human rights. Discussions are currently taking place regarding a Business and Human Rights Research Project as well as a second theme around the Freedom of Expression and Media in Contemporary Democracies. Extensive work is being carried out to engage with colleagues with an interest in these areas and the intention will be to communicate the resulting research findings in a clear and accessible way to policy-makers, practitioners and the broader public.
Professor Anne Davies, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Oxford says that;
We are delighted that such generous donors have made it possible to create the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford in association with Mansfield College. Oxford is now positioned as one of the top places in the world to study the important field of human rights law at an international, European and domestic level.