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LSE Human Rights Past Research Projects

 

Human Rights in the Commonwealth of Independent States

For the last two years the situation in regard to respect for human rights in the CIS region has deteriorated dramatically. This shift is, in part, related to and led by a government backlash – with an unprecedented number of new restrictive laws - against mass protests in Russia and a crackdown on the independent media, and on human rights defenders and political opposition in Ukraine. These developments are closely watched and - in many cases – followed by the governments of other CIS countries leading to a number of cases of pressure on and persecution of human rights defenders. This situation affects all independent non-governmental organisations in the region, but particularly those dealing with civil and political rights and especially those that are more active and successful (as they become a bigger irritant for the authorities). The increasing gravity and persistence of the human rights violations are dangerous per se and they also act as a dangerous precedent in the CIS region and in other parts of the world.

For years, human rights defenders in the CIS region – apart from those in the most repressive countries, like Belarus or Uzbekistan – have mostly concentrated their efforts on developing systems of human rights protection for their target groups. Their relationships with their governments were never very close but were, in general, characterised by a sort of cautious neutrality. Most human rights defenders in the region were taken by surprise by recent developments and by the purposeful attack on human rights defenders themselves, and on the way that they operate, and by the unprecedented level of this attack, which has included a number of far-reaching legislative changes.

The new laws (such as the “foreign agents” law adopted in Russia and now discussed in a number of other CIS countries) are not only very restrictive for civil society organisations but also potentially very dangerous to individual human rights defenders. The law on treason may lead to 10 or more years of imprisonment for vaguely described reasons which may include simply sharing information with foreign organizations.

Defending the Defenders

This is a three-year project to support a consortium of Russian non-governmental human rights organisations which enables them to work together in order to assist and protect organisations and activists defending human rights in Russia when they themselves come under threat. 

The present members of the consortium are the Moscow Helsinki Group; the Youth Human Rights Movement; Memorial; the Independent Council of Legal Expertise; the Human Rights Association "Agora"; and the Russian Human Rights Network. 

The project has established a Centre of Emergency Response in order to provide legal and other forms of assistance to organisations and individuals to help them deal with administrative pressure and other forms of intimidation, protect their personal security, and to strengthen the security of their information. The project is also developing a database to provide a reliable basis for advocacy, reporting and campaigning. It helps those human rights defenders who have to go to court. The project also facilitates cooperation with different international human rights mechanisms within the Council of Europe, OSCE and the UN.

CIS Human Rights Network for Conscripts

This is a three-year project to support a consortium of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the CIS to build their capacity to empower conscripts and their families to claim their rights and to enhance the impact of civil society organisations on decision-making processes related to the representation and protection of the human rights of military conscripts. 

The present members of the consortium are Soldiers' Mothers of Armenia; Human Rights Centre of Azerbaijan; Belarus Foundation for Legal Technologies Development; "Promo-LEX" Association of Moldova; Khabarovsk Committee of Soldiers' Mothers; Youth Human Rights Movement; Moscow Helsinki Group; Humanitarian Centre "Compassion"; Young Lawyers Association of Tajikistan, "Amparo"; Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties.

The capacity-building programme is aimed at assisting CSOs to cooperate with their own governments and mass-media as well as with international human rights bodies, as well as helping them to organise awareness-raising seminars, roundtable discussions and other advocacy activities with public authorities and other key stakeholders at local and national levels and other key stakeholders. 

Project Team

Professor Margot Light, Programme Director.

Andrey Kuvshinov, Programme Coordinator. Andrey has Masters Degrees in Physics and Social Psychology from Novosibirsk State University, Russia. He was the Chairman of the Siberian Human Rights Network until 2006 when he joined LSE. His interests include human rights, civil society, security, population and development, migration.   

Dmitry Lyulev, Research Assistant

Selected publications

Defending the Defenders

A report on human rights defenders in Russia in 2011: Report in Russian

A report on the observance of the right to the freedom of associations in Russia in 2011: Report in Russian

A report on the observance of the right to the freedom of assembly in Russia in 2011: Report in Russian

Guidelines on the monitoring of the freedom of peaceful assembly: Webpage in English I Webpage in Russian

Legal protection of activists at public events: Webpage in Russian

Methodology of organising public events: Report in Russian

Online guide to freedom of association for government agencies and civil society: Webpage in English I Webpage in Russian

CIS Human Rights Network for Conscripts

Annual Report on Human Rights in Russia 2011: Report in Russian

Annual Report on Human Rights in Russia 2010: Report in Russian

The book "Alternative call" (on the right to conscientious objection): Russian

"Black Book" which describes most serious violations of rights of young people in the military: Russian

Monitoring report on military recruitment for 2011 in Tajikistan: Russian

Report on Human Rights in Moldova 2009-2010: Report in English I Report in Russian  

Alternative military service. Standards and approaches to reforms: Report in Russian

British Social Attitudes

The British public's traditionally strong commitment to civil liberties is believed to be in decline, but until now there has been little rigorous analysis of public opinion. In this project we address that gap by collecting and analysing nationally representative survey data on public attitudes towards national security, human rights and civil liberties. This project was conducted in partnership with the National Centre for Social Research with the support of the New Security Challenges Programme of the Economic and Social Research Council.

We analysed British public attitudes and how they relate to one another (particularly the extent to which it is acceptable to 'trade off' some civil liberties for a perceived counter-terrorism gain). We also identified the political allegiances of those who hold particular views and examined the extent to which attitudes have changed over time. Our key aim was to contribute to the political, public, media and academic debate on civil liberties, human rights and national security, and the interplay between them.

The results of our research were published in 'Civil Liberties and the challenge of terrorism' by Mark Johnson and Conor Gearty in Park A., Curtice, C., Thomson, K., Phillips M., and Johnson, M. (eds) (2007) British Social Attitudes: the 23rd report - Perspectives on a changing society, London: SAGE. ISBN: 9781412934329

Civil Society and National Security

Over a period of two years from 2005 to 2007, we conducted a series of seminars to consider the proper role, if any, of non-governmental personnel in the handling of national security issues within the state. This investigation was made possible with funding from the New Security Challenges Programme of the Economic and Social Research Council.

The objective of the series was to develop a dialogue between government and non-governmental actors on the management of issues related to national security. Our purpose was to facilitate the forging of an approach to the subject which achieves the right balance between officials and others on the one hand, and between principles (relating to security and to democratic and legal accountability for example) on the other. On a strictly non-attributable basis, we brought together senior figures from the government, the judiciary, the bar and the media, as well as academics and campaigners, to discuss the handling of security issues within a state.

The success of the seminar series prompted us to devise a further event devoted to structured thinking and highly-focused discussion on the challenge posed to human rights by terrorism and by counter-terrorism law. Again with support from the ESRC we conducted a full day conference, run on the same non-attributable basis and involving many of the same participants. As with the seminar series our aim was to break through the divides that lie between the various actors engaged in the field of terrorism and human rights thereby fruitfully to address the issues of concern to each in a frank and confidential environment.

In March 2008 the Centre produced a new report: 'Human rights, civil society and the challenge of terrorism', commenting on the inter-relationship between terrorism law and human rights and reflecting on the seminar series  and conference.

Seminar Reports

- Seminar one: The proper role of the legal profession
- Seminar two: The role of the media 
- Seminar three: The proper role of the judiciary 
- Seminar four: The role of civil society 
- Seminar five: The proper role of politicians 
- Seminar six: The place of the Human Rights Act

EU policy on human rights, peace and security

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights is a member of the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI). With a grant from European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research AHRI members have undertaken research on EU foreign policy in the areas of human rights, peace and security.

An output of this project is the publication of a multidisciplinary anthology which brings together scholars and practitioners to address the question as to whether, in our globalised world, the protection of economic, social and cultural rights in the South has or should become the duty of actors beyond the state. It explores the role of actors such as transnational business, international financial institutions, supranational organisations and influential states who are involved in or impact on human rights in developing countries. In adopting a 'responsibilities approach', it seeks to clarify the nature, content and scope of their contemporary duties.

Margot E. Salomon, Arne Tostensen and Wouter Vandenhole (eds), Casting the Net Wider: Human Rights, Development and New Duty-Bearers (Intersentia, 2007).

Human Rights Futures Project

The Human Rights Futures Project explored and analysed the future direction of human rights discourse in the UK and elsewhere. The project particularly focused on monitoring and evaluating the impact of the UK's Human Rights Act (HRA) inside and outside the courts to chart the evolving nature of human rights and challenge its characterisation as a technical, legalised discourse, focused solely on the relationship between the individual and the state.

The Project engaged in the political debates on the future of the HRA and proposals for a British Bill of Rights. Human Rights Futures provided academic research and analysis on the background and context to the debate and draws on comparative material to signal the global implications of moving away from international human rights norms to a more national focus. The Project was also involved in analysing political and philosophical debates about the nature of the state and human rights.

Selected publications

Human Rights Act impact on everyday life (briefing), July 2013

Prisoners Voting Rights in the UK (briefing), June 2013

There can be no “forced” law change under the Human Rights Act, Letter to the Daily Mail, 7 May 2013

The government is free to ignore a declaration of incompatibility, Letter to the Daily Telegraph, 7 May 2013

Declarations of Incompatibility under the HRA, April 2013

European Court of Human Rights cases, March 2013

Deportation and the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 HRA, February 2013

Response to the Commission on a Bill of Rights second consultation, September 2012

Response to the Commission on a Bill of Rights discussion paper 'Do we need a UK Bill of Rights?', November 2011. Appendix 2: Proposals for the 'British model' of ECHR incorporation, 1997.

Response to Home Office Consultation on Family Migration, October 2011

The Human Rights Act, European Convention on Human Rights and phone hacking convictions, July 2011

'Human Rights Act Reporting in the Media: corrections and clarifications'. Subsequently published on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee website as written evidence for their Bill of Rights Inquiry, June 2011 

Landmark developments under the Human Rights Act, May 2011

Protection of children's rights under the Human Rights Act, May 2011

Human Rights Act impact outside courts, June 2010

A Bill of Rights that is Human Rights Act plus: What are the minimal indicators?, January 2010

Human Rights Measurement Framework

A partnership project between the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion and the British Institute of Human Rights, and commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The Human Rights Measurement Framework (HRMF) was developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), in partnership with the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), to monitor human rights in England, Scotland and Wales. The specialist consultation was carried out by an LSE team in partnership with the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR).

The Human Rights Measurement Framework (on the EHRC website)

Project microsite (LSE Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion project page)