International Guidelines Help Promote and Protect Human Rights in Phillippines

The United Nations (UN) has recommended international guidelines developed through a partnership between Julie Hannah, at Essex Law School, and the United Nations Development Programme should be used in the Philippines to improve and protect human rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recommended the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy form part of the UN joint action plan to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Julie Hannah, who is the Director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy based at the Human Rights Centre, said:

“We are delighted to see the Guidelines form one of the United Nation’s key recommendations to the government of the Phillippines to advance more humane and just responses to drugs in the country. Vigilance and accountability will continue to be critical to ensure the Guidelines are utilised in a comprehensive system of reforms necessary to support justice and healing for the communities so deeply affected by the punitive and violent drug control efforts of recent years. It is an honour to play a very minor role in supporting the tremendous advocates at the Commission on Human Rights as well as civil society colleagues and friends in the country.”

Improving human rights in the Philippines

This recent UN report examines progress made on the implementation of the United Nations Joint Programme on Human Rights (UNJP), agreed by the Government of the Philippines and the UN on 22 July 2021.

This three-year UN joint programme was developed to implement Human Rights Council Resolution 45/33 which outlined specific areas, including drug control, for capacity-building and technical cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.

The OHCHR’s recommendation that the new Philippines administration ‘revise legislation and policies in line with a human rights-based approach and the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy’ followed a national consultation convened in 2021.

This consultation involved the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, the OHCHR and national stakeholders to review the current efforts on drug policy reform in the Philippines in light of the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy. This was subsequently followed by meetings organised by the UNJP in April this year with government, health officials and academia to propose a draft roadmap to transition the national drug policy framework towards a public health and human-rights centred system to enable voluntary community-based treatment and rehabilitation for drugs.

More about the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy

The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy are the result of a multi-year collaborative effort between academics, UN entities and civil society addressing Health, Development and Criminal Justice.

They were developed by the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy and the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with the GPDPD, GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

This piece was first published on the University’s news web pages and is reproduced on the ELR Blog with permission and thanks.

The House of Lords Committee Inquiry into Migration Partnership Between UK and Rwanda: Essex Law School Academics’ Written Evidence Cited in the Committee’s Final Report

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On 10 June 2022, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee, chaired by Baroness Hayter, launched an inquiry into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK government and the government of the Republic of Rwanda for the provision of an Asylum Partnership Arrangement. 

The UK-Rwanda MoU was published by the Government on 14 April 2022. It is a political agreement under which anyone who is deemed to have arrived illegally in the UK since 1 January 2022 may be relocated to Rwanda. Although their claim for asylum in the UK would not be considered, they would be able to claim asylum in Rwanda. However, concerns were raised by academics, legal practitioners, third-party stakeholders and activists in relation to the choice of an MoU as a tool for implementing the arrangement.

The UK-Rwanda MoU is an important agreement, which may have far-reaching consequences for individuals and their rights. Unlike formal international agreements (treaties) that are subject to formal parliamentary scrutiny arrangements under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, an MoU is not a treaty. Rather, it is a political arrangement between the UK and Rwanda, which is not designed to be binding in international law.

On 18 October 2022, the Lords Select Committee published its 7th Report of Session 2022–23 on the UK-Rwanda asylum agreement, citing written evidence submitted by Professor Theodore Konstadinides and Dr Anastasia Karatzia of the Essex Law School (para. 32).

Prof. Konstadinides and Dr. Karatzia questioned, in particular, whether an MoU is an appropriate vehicle for the relocation of asylum seekers deemed to have arrived illegally in the UK, “especially given: (a) the implications it has for individual rights, and (b) the assurances and safeguards included in the MoU, particularly those relating to inspection and monitoring, a relocated individuals’ access to legal assistance, and data protection which give rise to legitimate expectations as to the other party’s conduct.” They argue that such commitments would be better protected by a formal treaty.

In its final report, the Lords Select Committee criticised the UK government for having avoided any meaningful parliamentary scrutiny. It emphasised that, during the course of its inquiry, it “routinely heard” from witnesses that the UK-Rwanda MoU was inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under international law. However, the Committee refrained from offering any conclusions on the compatibility of the MoU with the UK’s international obligations, given the ongoing proceedings before the High Court concerning proposed deportations under the controversial agreement.

The Committee received 19 written submissions from academics, NGOs and lawyers, as well as a submission from the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. The written evidence can be accessed here.

Giving Nature A Voice

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Faith In Nature has become the world’s first company to officially appoint Nature to its Board of Directors. The precedent-setting move gives Nature a vote on key business decisions with Essex Law School academic and Co-Founder of Lawyers for Nature Brontie Ansell joining the Board as the first representative for Nature.

In a fundamental change to their corporate governance structure and in a first for the business world, the decision from the natural hair care and soap company gives the natural world a voice and a vote on the future of the business.

The company has formally amended its constitution, with the result that Nature is now represented on the Board by an individual who is legally bound to speak on behalf of the natural world. The nominated proxy will speak and vote on behalf of Nature, much as a guardian acts on behalf of a child in the courts of law.

This decision extends a growing legal precedent around environmental personhood – the attribution of legal rights to non-human entities – and presents a fresh opportunity for businesses wanting to reduce their environmental impact.

Simeon Rose, Faith In Nature’s Creative Director and driver of the initiative, said: “We’re delighted to be the first to do this but we don’t want to be the last. Our hope is that other businesses who take their responsibility to the natural world seriously will follow suit – and we’re really happy to share details of how and why we did this. We’ve always wanted Nature to be at the heart of what we do and this felt like this is the next serious step we could take to make that a reality. This is much more than spin: by changing our governance structure we are making sure we’re legally accountable and that what’s good for Nature informs our strategy.”

Rose’s vision has been realised by lawyers that helped pioneer the concept of environmental personhood, Paul Powlesland and Brontie from Lawyers for Nature, and Grant Wilson from Earth Law Centre. Earlier this year, the Earth Law Centre assisted with the high profile legal case to attribute legal rights to Nature in Panama. The legal process with Faith In Nature also received significant support and expertise from a pro bono team of corporate experts at international law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP.

In what will be a rotating position, Brontie will be the first board representative for Nature. Brontie is Director and Co-Founder of Lawyers for Nature and is also a Senior Lecturer in Essex Law School at the University of Essex.

Brontie said: “This will hopefully spark a big change in how the business world perceives and acts on its responsibility to the natural world. For too long Nature has been seen purely as an expendable resource: this kind of thinking has led us to the brink of ecological collapse. It can and must change.”

Grant Wilson at the Earth Law Centre, added: “The movement for the Rights of Nature is picking up momentum across the world, but businesses have been slow to recognise that they are a crucial part of this story. Making Nature a Director is a tangible step that businesses can take to ensure that their operations take into account the rights and needs of the natural world.”

The board representative will work in concert with a committee of environmental experts, to make Nature’s case on all major board decisions. Faith In Nature has decided to open-source the legal process to allow other companies to follow its lead.

This story was first published on the University of Essex’s news webpages and is reproduced on the ELR Blog with permission and thanks.

Investigating Allegations of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Settings

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

Professor Carla Ferstman is a member of the Justice Rapid Response (JRR) Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Justice Experts Roster. She recently wrote a research paper for JRR on the investigation of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) allegations involving children.

Along with Fabian Ilg, who is a Justice Rapid Response Roster Expert, Prof. Ferstman participated in a launch event: Investigating Allegations of Sexual Exploitation & Abuse of Children Occurring in Humanitarian Settings: Reflections from Practice (recording available). 

Prof. Ferstman and Fabian Ilg recently conducted an interview with JRR about the research paper. Their responses are reproduced on the ELR Blog below with permission and thanks.

Carla, As the author of the report, could you summarize the key findings and its recommendations?

The purpose of the report is to explain the key challenges to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving child victims. It is not a “how to” guide, but there are several clear messages to the report.

First, allegations of SEA involving child victims are likely to happen in settings that present unequal power dynamics. This will include fragile settings whether impacted by conflict, insecurity, weak governance, poverty, disease, or natural disasters. Because of this likelihood, all humanitarian agencies and organizations working in these environments need to actively prepare for such eventualities. Hoping that it won’t happen is simply not a good enough strategy. Active preparation includes having clear child-friendly policies in place, being proactive about uncovering child SEA, having specialist staff on hand, and taking effective steps to mitigate the risk of SEA involving child victims.

Second, agencies and organizations should ensure that their policies and practices maximize the rights of child victims. Ensuring the best interests of the child in relation to SEA investigations is not only about protecting children from psychological and other forms of harm during investigations; it also requires that children’s rights to information, to participate in investigation processes, to justice and to reparations are all maximized to the greatest possible extent. How child victims are consulted during SEA investigations should reflect their evolving capacities and their maturity. Third, agencies and organizations should recognize and address the conflicts of interest they often have when conducting SEA investigations. This includes ensuring children have access to independent advice and support about how best their interests, needs and rights can be respected during a SEA investigation and subsequently.

Being the first report of its kind, dedicated to exploring the issue of SEA investigations through a child-centered perspective, what do you hope it will achieve?

It is hoped that the report will raise awareness about a really complex issue that arises all too often in humanitarian settings.

Hopefully, it will spur agencies and organizations to action, so that the needs and rights of child victims can be met and so that accountability for this horrific crime can prevail.

Fabian, why do you feel that this project and paper are important and needed? 

First, I am very proud and glad to have had the opportunity to participate in this very important project and to bring in some of my own experience from the field while investigating different SEA cases involving children (CSEA) over many years, both as a JRR expert and as a professional in law enforcement.
This report is one of the most complete documents created about this topic and fills a large void. Over the past years, the focus to improve protection of CSEA victims has increased a lot. As a result, organizations working in the humanitarian sector have needed guidance and specific standards to prevent CSEA, as many CSEA cases still occur regularly all over the world. Now more than ever, it is very important to do the utmost to protect children, the most vulnerable human beings, to treat them with respect during this process, and to start helping survivors to make their future life as bearable as possible. This report provides the needed guidance in a comprehensive manner, and is therefore a perfect tool for all who may be involved with CSEA during their work.

As someone who has conducted SEA investigations, how do you have to adapt your approach to investigate SEA against children?

SEA investigations are very complex on different levels. CSEA investigations are an even greater challenge. In many cases, material evidence is missing and the victims’ voice is the only proof. Relationships of dependency and abuse of power are some of the usual modus operandi used by perpetrators, to make victims appear to have wanted the sexual contact. In court, judges follow the strong voice of the lawyers of the perpetrators and the statements of adults often have a much higher weight than that of children. Children are very vulnerable and can often not distinguish between right and wrong, and as such their judgement is viewed as limited. Furthermore, the chances of their re-victimization at a later point in time are sadly quite high.

This makes CSEA very different from SEA. We, as CSEA investigators, have a grave responsibility to protect these young victims, and must do so by putting them in the centre of the investigation. This starts with ensuring all their rights are protected during the investigation process. Among other things, to be interviewed is a very traumatic experience for a child. The victim-centred approach is in many ways the most critical step to support a child and provides them with the chance of having a bearable life in the future.

Celebrating the Very Best of Essex Research: Research and Impact Awards 2022

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The very best of Essex research was recognised at our Excellence in Research and Impact Awards 2022 ceremony at Colchester Campus on Wednesday 25 May 2022. The annual awards highlighted how the work conducted at Essex is having a positive impact on people’s lives across the globe. 

This year, a total of 21 awards were presented to research champions, impactful projects, and technical teams over the course of a three-hour event. The School of Law attracted four awards in four different categories:

The award for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Research went to Lorna McGregor (School of Law), Ahmed Shaheed (School of Law), Peter Fussey (Department of Sociology), and Human Rights Big Data and Technology colleagues for the world-leading Human Rights, Big Data, and Technology Project.

Alexandros Antoniou received the Research Visibility Champion award for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Julie Hannah won the award for Best Research Impact by an Early Career Researcher for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. The award was for her project titled Closing Protection Gaps in International Drug Control: The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy.

The award for Best UK Public Policy Research Impact went to Wayne Martin (School of Philosophy and Art History), Sabine Michalowski (School of Law), Aaron Wyllie (School of Health and Social Care), Emily Fitton (School of Philosophy and Art History), Margot Kuylen, Vivek Bhatt and Thomas Hartvigsson for their AHRC project Ensuring Respect for Human Rights in Locked-Down Care Homes.

Tara Van Ho was a runner-up for Best International Research Impact for her work that helped Twitter devise new content policies for tackling online misinformation about the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict and other humanitarian crises.

“These awards are another fantastic indicator of how Law School research is having an enormously important impact at so many levels of society beyond the academic world. This was recognised by the recent Research Excellence Framework which rated over 70% of the Law School impact work from 2014-2021 as being world-leading. With these awards, we see that there has been no let up. The Law School continues to strive to be world-class at using its research to make a real difference to law, policy and people.”

Prof. Chris Willett, Director of Impact, School of Law

You can see this year’s winners and runners-up for each of the ten award categories here.

The awards are open to all academics, researchers, and doctoral students each year and signal the University’s commitment to world-class research that makes a difference.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe: Her Journey to Freedom and the Lessons We Can Learn

Photo of Richard Ratcliffe at the candlelit vigil outside the Foreign Office on Friday 05 Nov. 2021, eleven days into his hunger strike, via Flickr.

Professor Carla Ferstman is a lawyer and an activist. Before joining the School of Law in 2018, she directed REDRESS, an organization dedicated to helping torture survivors in all parts of the world to seek justice for all the harm they suffered. That is where she first met Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe who was released earlier this week on 15 March 2022 after almost six years of being kept as a hostage in Iran.

Kate Clayton, Senior Communications Officer at the University of Essex, spoke to Carla to find out more about her perspective on Nazanin’s journey to freedom and to ask her what lessons we might be able to draw from her case.

Why has the plight of Nazanin and her family resonated with so many people in the UK and beyond?

On a human level, it is hard to fathom what it must feel like to have one’s family torn apart by such an arbitrary, brutal act and to feel so powerless over so many years. So this was about compassion first of all. But also, Richard’s advocacy, his unwillingness to be quieted in the face of the injustice he and Nazanin faced helped to bring and keep people on board.

Do you think there were any turning points in the campaign?

Yes, several, and I will focus on the positive ones.

First, is the recognition by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that Nazanin’s detention was arbitrary, that she was likely to have been arrested because of her status as a dual Iranian-British national, and that she should be immediately released. This 2016 decision made it clear that this was no ordinary criminal case where the UK should sit back and wait for justice to take its course. No, Nazanin was being targeted. Removing the veneer of a criminal justice justification for her detention was really important because it helped to move the UK Government towards a position where it understood that it had to act. Passivity was not an option.

Second, was the coming together of many of the families of detainees, mainly dual nationals and Iranian nationals with foreign links. This was crucial to change the narrative about what was happening. All the stories were so similar – this was a form of hostage-taking. It was also important to counter isolation and build a sense of common solidarity. 

Third, was the 2019 decision by then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to grant Nazanin diplomatic protection, meaning that the UK Government had recognised formally that the harm caused to Nazanin was a harm to the UK Government and one for which it could intervene as a state to state claim. This was a landmark recognition.

Fourth, was the March 2022 repayment by the UK of a £400m debt that had been outstanding since the 1970s in relation to an outstanding order for military equipment.

You managed to involve Essex students in the campaign. How did this go?

Iran’s human rights record was being considered by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva through its universal periodic review process. The students, under the auspices of the Human Rights Centre Clinic helped prepare a submission on behalf of seven families to highlight the injustice of their situation. This came at a really important time and was a start of much more robust joint advocacy by families of detainees. This was quite a unique opportunity for the students to work on such a concrete, live case involving real people undergoing serious human rights violations in real-time.

Have campaigns like this impacted your academic research?

Indeed, I just recently co-authored with my colleague Dr Marina Sharpe a journal article which considers whether the arbitrary detention of dual and foreign nationals in Iran violates the Convention on the Taking of Hostages and may constitute a crime against humanity. We hope this will be useful to ongoing scholarly debates and also assist the many organisations who are following these issues and governments whose citizens continue to be affected by the practice.

What do you think comes next for Nazanin and Richard?

One of the wonderful things about the freedom they now have is that it is absolutely for them to figure out their next steps. Something we may all take for granted, I imagine for them feels very luxurious.

What next for the other cases?

There are still so many people who remain arbitrarily detained in Iran in a hostage context, many for multiple years, under very difficult circumstances. And the practice is also happening in more and more countries. The advocacy must continue until the practice stops.

This piece was first published on the Blog of the University of Essex and is reproduced on the ELR Blog with permission and thanks.

Essex Research Informs Police Review

Photo by Bruno Martins 

Research by Dr. Simon Cooper on police accountability and the role of Police and Crime Commissioners has been cited in a major nationwide review of policing.

The Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales, which was conducted by the Police Foundation and chaired by Sir Michael Barber, has called for a radical shake-up of the way forces are run.

It cites research by Dr. Cooper, from the School of Law, which showed that the power of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to remove Chief Constables from office is having a “corrosive” effect on policing and police accountability.

Drawing on Dr. Cooper’s research, which was published in The Criminal Law Review (Issue 4, 2020), the Strategic Review specifically highlights his finding that a vital independent review process, meant to safeguard against a compromised PCC wrongly removing a Chief Constable from office, has only been used once since 2012 and didn’t impact the decision.

The authors of the report note that “such untrammelled power in the hands of one person has created job insecurity throughout the Chief Constable rank and this in turn has led to increased churn and reduced tenure.”

Dr. Cooper said: “Policing is at an inflection point. The Strategic Review comes at a time when public confidence is low and policing is under pressure. The Strategic Review will help shape the future of policing.

“The interviews I conducted find the PCC’s power to remove Chief Constables has already compromised the independence of senior officers. As currently formulated, the PCC’s s. 38 power creates an environment in which it would be possible for a PCC – effectively a layperson – to command, overrule and potentially even control a Chief Constable. We urgently require a Select Committee inquiry to re-examine the PCC’s power to remove their Chief Constable.”

Dr. Cooper’s research was based on a series of interviews with PCCs, Chief Constables, and members of Police and Crime Panels (PCPs), as well as the person responsible for introducing the current system and one of the most senior figures in policing at a national level.

This post first appeared on the University of Essex’s news webpage and is reproduced on the ELR Blog with permission and thanks.

Licensing System for 3D Printing in China

Source: PxFuel

James Griffin (Associate Professor, University of Exeter), Onyeka Osuji (Professor, University of Essex), and Hing Kai Chan (Professor, Nottingham University Business School China) have developed a digital watermarking technology that enables the tracking and tracing of 3D Printing (3DP) content, from its creation through to its destruction.

A watermark is embedded into creative content; the team’s research made the technology easier to implement and difficult to remove, thus enabling new forms of 3DP works.

The technology was successfully demonstrated operating at a conference in China in 2017 and received widespread and acclaimed international press and television coverage. It has been granted a patent in China in August 2020.  

The research team’s next task, with James Griffin as principal investigator in the impact follow on research, is to develop the technology further for implementation into licensing systems. They will do this with two China-based companies. The AHRC awarded Griffin, Osuji, and Kai Chan £65,774 for the project.

Professor Osuji’s role is mainly to apply contract law to 3D printed watermarks, provide training sessions concerning contracts and lead the development of the best practice code.  

Attaching the technology to an existing licensing platform will allow for the use of 3DP content in new creative ways, leading to new artistic forms. For example, the technology could be attached to 3DP materials themselves, resolving an ongoing problem in ensuring the quality of materials that are used for printing. This could allow for more complex artistic works; it could even lead to organic works involving 3DP biological material.

The technology would open up new markets, even overcoming existing regulatory hurdles. This is because the technology would enable right holders to guarantee sources of materials and can be used to check if the structure of a 3DP object has changed internally. 

More details about the project can be found here.

Police and Crime Commissioners: A Dislocated Expectation?

Image by James Eades

New research, based on exclusive interviews with high-ranking figures from across UK policing – including Chief Constables, PCCs, one of the most senior persons in policing and one of the persons involved with introducing PCCs – suggests a postcode lottery in police accountability. The calibre of individual PCCs is seen as the key factor in ensuring adequate oversight, with stark differences exposed between forces.

Dr. Simon Cooper, from the Essex Law School, gained unprecedented access to key figures from all sides, on the condition of their anonymity.

Dr. Cooper’s findings, which were published in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice and subsequently cited in the House of Commons Police and Crime Commissioners 2021 Report as well as House of Lords 2022 Report Police and Crime Commissioners: Powers and Functions, support the argument that the current system can work.

However, Dr. Cooper identifies a “significant anomaly”, with accountability dependent on the relative strengths of PCCs and Chief Constables and the relationship between the two. Success, in this respect, can be seen to “hinge on luck”.

Dr. Cooper said:

“These findings suggest a significant variation in how police accountability is administered around the country. While one Chief Constable described being regularly ‘grilled’ by their PCC, some Commissioners are seen as ill-equipped, ill-prepared and potentially ego-driven. The importance placed by the system on these single individuals suggests there is a real possibility that some Chief Constables are being held to account more effectively than others.”

One Chief Constable, identified as Chief Constable D, outlined the issues that exist when dealing with their elected PCC, contrasting it with the previous ‘tripartite’ structure, where Chief Constables would report to the Home Secretary and their local Police Authority:

“…there is a significant risk that the relationship (between PCC and CC) either becomes excessively hostile, excessively friendly or… there isn’t the balance, additional questioning or informing of the debate that a wider group would give. (…) Because of poor safeguards and governance arrangements it too quickly descends into personalities and subjectivity in which accountability becomes likeability, becomes re-electability. Accountability becomes all of those things it shouldn’t.”

Another Chief Constable, Chief Constable C, underlined the importance of the PCC-Chief Constable relationship, noting the impact of individual experience and characters:

I have seen evidence of PCCs who are ill-equipped and ill-prepared and actually don’t have the skills to understand big organisations making sweeping statements and making assumptions about individuals without any basis whatsoever. I have also seen Chief Constables that do not want to adapt to a new way of working and will be very obstructive towards PCCs.”

Summarising the impact on oversight, Police and Crime Commissioner D asked:

“The question is can a PCC be played by a Chief Constable? They clearly could be and some I suspect are. I am quite sure that there are some Chief Constables who just pay lip service to their PCC.”

The current system was seen by some as placing an impractical burden on one individual. The lack of a ‘pool of different views’ limits opportunities for the PCC to moderate their thoughts and has the potential to leave the PCC either exposed or guided by advice from others, with no formal oversight role. PCC A commented:

Presumably if it’s something they (the PCC) didn’t know a lot about they talk to a lot of people about it but you don’t see any of those conversations played out.”

In reality, one senior figure, Person Z, was left questioning the original design of the PCC system:

“For one person, even though they are elected, to replace the wisdom and contribution of 19 [Police Authority members] is a tall ask. There’s only one person [the PCC] providing scrutiny [of Chief Constables] and that’s a heavy responsibility, so in terms of scrutiny of course it’s a lot less. Palpably has it worked? No… I suspect PCCs might, in hindsight, be regarded as a blunder.”

Dr. Cooper’s findings suggest a need for the Home Secretary to review the Policing Protocol and for an Accountability Code of Practice to be issued. He said:

“This research encourages the Home Secretary to exercise their power and urgently review The Policing Protocol Order. In its current form, the PPO is overly broad, presumption-based, loosely-worded and generic, with a resulting impact on accountability.”

Dr. Cooper’s research is published at a time of a continuing debate on police accountability. The Police Foundation found a “crisis of confidence”, recommending “root and branch reform”, and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services recommended a “profound and far-reaching police reform” and there have been calls for a Royal Commission.

Dr. Cooper’s research also found that in some instances the PCC model is viewed favourably when contrasted with its forerunner, with the previous bureaucracy and resulting backlog replaced by a “single point of decision-making” and a greater “visibility” of the decision-making process at a local level.

Other interviewees, however, suggested such appearances could be deceptive. PCC E commented:

“We have gained in terms of visibility but lost in terms of detailed scrutiny that the Police Authority was capable of.”

Dr. Simon Cooper’s article titled ‘Police and Crime Commissioners: A Dislocated Expectation?’ was published in Vol. 15, Issue 3 of Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice and can be accessed via the publisher’s website here. The House of Commons report on PCCs, citing Dr. Cooper’s research (pp. 10-11), can be read here. The House of Lords report also citing his research (para. 1.3) can be read here.

This ELR post was updated on 10 November 2022 to reflect recent developments in the impact of Dr. Cooper’s research.

University of Essex 2021 Research and Impact awards

Photo by Jungwoo Hong

As the academic year comes to an end, we want to take a moment to recognise the incredible work and successes of our researchers in the School of Law at the University of Essex.

Colleagues continue making important contributions to the University’s research mission through exceptional performance and we have plenty to celebrate this year.

Staff from across the University were recognised at the 2021 annual Excellence in Research and Impact Awards, which took place on 29 June 2021. The awards showcase some of the best examples of how our University’s research positively influences people’s everyday lives.

The School of Law was strongly represented with three winners and a runner-up, demonstrating the School’s breadth of work and commitment to world-class, transformational research.

School of Law prizes

Dr Haim Abraham won the award for Best Research Impact by an Early Career Researcher for his project Access to Surrogacy in Israel which addressed discrimination in Israel’s surrogacy law. Dr Abraham commented:

‘The nomination and award are a great honour and a privilege. The support of my colleagues in the School of Law and the University for a project aimed at advancing LGBTQ+ rights demonstrates our deep commitment to equality and diversity, and our drive to bring about positive change in the world.’

Judith Bueno de Mesquita received a joint award for Best International Research Impact for her project titled Realising the right to health. Her research examined the expectations (or norms) in relation to the right to health, in the context of specific health issues, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The award was shared with Professor Thankom Arun from the Essex Business School. Judith stated:

‘The Human Rights Centre and School of Law are famous for their commitment to and history of engagement in human rights practice, through research-informed partnerships with governments, international organisations and activists. My research is shaped by this tradition and commitment to improve human rights on the ground. I dedicate this award to my outstanding research partners at the national human rights institutions in Azerbaijan and Kosovo and at the UN Population Fund, whose knowledge and commitment was incredible and made change possible.’

Dr Emily Jones was a runner up for the Outstanding Early Career Researcher award for the Faculty of Humanities. Dr Jones’ work spans the areas of feminist approaches to international law, international environmental law, science and technology and international law, gender and conflict and the regulation of contemporary and emerging military technologies. Dr Jones, who was recently elected to Senate (the supreme academic authority of the University) said:

‘The award is a recognition of my contribution to the research environment at Essex, including my work in fostering interdisciplinary links across Departments and Faculties at Essex’.

Dr Alexandros Antoniou won The Conversation Award for the Faculty of Humanities for his article titled The Johnny Depp libel trial explained. His piece looked at the Hollywood actor’s defamation claim against The Sun over the publication of an article characterising him as ‘wife beater’. The Conversation awards go to the writers of the best-read articles over the last 12 months. More than 102,265 readers accessed Dr Antoniou’s article which was published on 3 November 2020.

Congratulations to all! Onwards and upwards!