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On 18 June the Transitional Justice Institute and Human Rights Consortium organised a one-day workshop for civil society, policy-makers and academics reflecting on the current state of human rights protection, and in particular the role of positive obligations in the protection of human rights. The workshop was attended by 25-30 participants.

The video for this is now on the TJI youtube channel (filmed by Alan Meban).

The event was organised by the Transitional Justice Institute and Human Rights Consortium and supported by the AHRC Impact Accelerator Account at Ulster. The programe and links to additional materials are below.

10.00-10.30Tea and coffee

Prof Rory O’Connell (Ulster)


Chair: Dr Gillian Kane (Ulster)

Dr Vladislava Stoyanova (Lund)

11.30-13.00Panel One

Chair: Prof Rory O’Connell

Nuala Toman (Disability Action)

  • Positive obligations and disability

Dr Gillian Kane (Ulster)

  • Identifying and Protecting Trafficked Persons in the UK and Ireland: A Role for Article 4 ECHR

Caitriona Mackel (Ulster)

  • Affirmative Action and Housing Inequality in Northern Ireland
14.00-15.30Panel Two

Chair: Dr Anne Smith

Alan Brecknell (Pat Finance Centre)

  • The role of Article 2 ECHR and the NI conflict

Elaine Crory (Women’s Resource and Development Agency)

  • Women’s Rights and Positive Obligations

Prof Rory O’Connell (Ulster University)

15.30-16.00Closing remarks
  • Kevin Hanratty (Human Rights Consortium)

Speaker Information

  • Dr Vladislava Stoyanova, Lund

    Dr Vladislava Stoyanova is an Associate Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, Lund University. She is the holder of the Wallenberg Academy Fellowship (2019-2024) awarded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, leading the project ‘The Borders Within: The Multifaceted Legal Landscape of Migrant Integration in Europe.’

    She is the holder of the 2023 Henrik Enderlein Prize for research excellence in social sciences. Her publications include the monographs Positive Obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights: Within and Beyond Boundaries (Oxford University Press, 2023 open access) and Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered: Conceptual Limits and States’ Positive Obligations in European Law (Cambridge University Press 2017).

  • Nuala Toman, Head of Innovation and Impact, Disability Action

    She is a Fellow of the Centre of Democracy and Peace Building.  As a Deaf and disabled person Nuala has worked to close the gap between decision-makers and Deaf and Disabled People.  Nuala is author of “Progress Towards the Implementation of the UNCRPD” and “The Pedagogy of Lifelong Learning”.  Nuala is a member of the All-Island Women’s Forum and the Shared Island Forum.  Nuala is a Board Member of the NI Museum Council, CnaG, and the Human Rights Consortium.  Nuala is a Council Member of CCMS, Chair of the Little Forget Me Nots Trust and Vice Chair of Thrive.

  • Dr Gillian Kane, Ulster University

    Dr Gillian Kane is a Lecturer at Ulster University School of Law. Gillian’s research expertise lies in international migration law. Gillian’s work focuses on the intersections between various international legal frameworks governing migration. Gillian is currently researching the role of international law in addressing human trafficking in the context of forced migration, including climate-related displacement.

    Gillian joined Ulster University School of Law in 2023. Alongside her research, she teaches Public Law, International Human Rights Law,  International Humanitarian Law. Before joining the School of Law, Gillian worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, University of Galway. (2022-2023), and prior to that, she completed her PhD research - on the role of international law in preventing and tackling human trafficking among refugees and asylum seekers - in the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. Gillian is also co-chair of the Human Trafficking Research Network, a Research Affiliate at the Refugee Law Initiative, and a trustee at Chab Dai UK.

  • Caitriona Mackel, Ulster University

    Caitriona is a PhD researcher at Ulster University. She originally obtained an LLB in Law with Politics in 2002 and an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies in 2004 from Ulster University. After a long career in office management and accounts administration, she returned to academic studies obtaining an LLM in Human Rights and Transitional Justice at TJI in 2019. She had also been actively involved in local politics and various community relations projects in a voluntary capacity over the course of the last decade. She is particularly interested in segregation, economic, social and cultural rights and reconciliation in Northern Ireland which forms the basis for her PhD research.

    Her project focuses on confronting housing inequality and segregation in Belfast by analysing the impact that an integrated approach to affirmative action and transitional justice might have on equality and reconciliation. Her supervisors are Prof Rory O’Connell and Dr Anne Smith.

  • Dr Anne Smith

    Anne is a Senior Lecturer  at the Transitional Justice Institute and the School of Law.  She teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.Her research and teaching interests are transitional constitutionalism, comparative constitutional law, human rights and equality. She has published widely in these areas and is currently writing a book on Negotiating Social Justice: The Drafting of Bills of Rights (Hart Publishing, forthcoming).Anne’s research has been supported by grants from Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Anne was invited by the Irish Research Council to act as a  remote reviewer for applications to COALESCE Research Fund.

    She is a Senior Fellow of HEA and a Fellow member of CHERP, and teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.She received the ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award (Faculty of Social Sciences category) at Ulster University Students’ Union Awards Ceremony in June 2016.Anne read Law and Government at Ulster University and graduated with a BA Hons (2:1, first in year).

    She then graduated at the same university with an LLM in European Law and Policy in December 1999. She proceeded to write a PhD thesis on Bills of Rights graduating in December 2007 at Ulster University receiving an unconditional pass.Anne is an Executive  member of  the Committee on the Administration of Justice and is a member of  various organisations such as the British Association for Canadian Studies, the UK Constitutional Law Association (UKCLA) and the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS).

    She is also involved in various research networks, including the Academic Network on the European Social Charter (ANESC/RACSE) and was the co-oordinator for the Economic and Social Rights Academic Network UK and Ireland (ESRAN-UKI) from March 2017-November 2018. Anne is also a peer reviewer for several journals such as Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law; Nordic Journal of International Law; and the Journal of Human Rights.

  • Alan Brecknell, Pat Finance Centre

    Alan Brecknell is an Advocacy Support Worker with the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), a non-party political, anti-sectarian human rights NGO, which supports bereaved families and survivors of the NI conflict.

    Alan's father, Trevor Brecknell, was one of three people killed in a UVF gun and bomb attack at Donnelly's Bar, Silverbridge, Co. Armagh on 19 December 1975. Trevor was celebrating the birth of his daughter who was born just two days earlier. Alan was only seven years old at the time.

    In 1999, Alan became involved in supporting and advocating for other victims after approaching the PFC seeking help with his own case.

    Following engagement with the RUC and the Barron Inquiries in ROI, Alan's family brought a case to the ECtHR. The result was the Brecknell judgement which informs how investigations into conflict-related deaths are dealt with by the UK authorities. Trevor's murder, along with approximately 120 other linked murders, are now the subject of a review by an independent police force (Operation Denton).

    Alan sits on the Victims' Forum in a personal capacity, and he has extensive experience of engaging with other stakeholders on legacy and victims' issues. He is a regular speaker at conferences, universities and public events regarding victims' issues and his experience in the ECtHR.

    Alan recently completed a BSc in Psychological Trauma from Queens University Belfast and also has a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice  at Ulster University.

  • Elaine Crory (Women’s Resource and Development Agency)

    Elaine Crory is Women’s Sector Lobbyist at Women’s Resource and Development Agency and formerly Specialist Advisor to the Westminster Women & Equalities Committee Inquiry on Violence Against Women and Girls. She has a background in adult education and holds a MA in Politics and International Relations and a BA in Politics and History.

  • Prof Rory O’Connell , Ulster University

    Rory O'Connell joined the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) and School of Law in 2013 as Professor of Human Rights and Constitutional Law. He is the Director of Development & Partnerships – School of Law (appointed 1 September 2023). He held the role of TJI Director from February 2014 to February 2020, and Research Director for Law from July 2017 to September 2023.

    Rory's research and teaching interests are in the areas of Human Rights and Equality, Constitutional Law and Legal Theory. He has published in the International Journal of Constitutional Law, European Law Journal, Legal Studies, European Human Rights Law Review and other journals. His books include Applying an International  Human Rights Framework to State Budget Allocations (Routledge), Human Rights and Public Finance (Hart), Legal Theory in the Crucible of Constitutional Justice (Ashgate). His latest book Law, Democracy and the European Court of Human Rights  (Cambridge) was published in 2020.

  • Kevin Hanratty, Director, Human Rights Consortium

    Kevin Hanratty is the Director of the Human Rights Consortium - a coalition of around 160 civil society groups that campaign for a human rights based society in Northern Ireland through the development of a strong and inclusive Bill of Rights and other campaigns, education and advocacy focused on the protection and promotion of human rights. He has previously worked as a Human Rights Officer with the OSCE Field Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Political Consultant with the NDI in Macedonia and in policy and research work for the Social Democratic and Labour Party.