Human Rights in Law and Life

Join to discuss the nature of human rights practice globally, with a focus on the legal and lived experiences in different contexts.

The Human Rights Bill (Scotland) drew together a panel of leading thinkers, many contributing to the RSE’s marking of the significant 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This evening’s panel is made up of contributors to the consultation for the RSE, and focused on the space for action and reflection of the academy, nationally and internationally. It focuses on the highly contextual nature of human rights practice globally, and on the room available for human rights as technical legal practice alongside the ‘cruel optimism’ of human rights. It looks at those who have never enjoyed the right to have rights and the tantalising concept of ‘human dignity’ as legal and lived experience.

The panel is resolutely situated within the human rights struggles of the present moment, of conflict and contestation seeking to offer a space for reflective practice and the discomforts that come with the contradictions.

We invite the audience to reflect on what different appeals to Human Rights mean today, in language and in practice, and in a global context. This includes the key question of how we can foster and critique Human Rights approaches in contexts different to the inception of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


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Professor Alison Phipps FRSE

Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow and UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts

Alison Phipps UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow and Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies. She was De Carle Distinguished Visiting Professor at Otago University, Aotearoa New Zealand 2019-2020, Thinker in Residence at the EU Hawke Centre, University of South Australia in 2016, Visiting Professor at Auckland University of Technology, and Principal Investigator for AHRC Large Grant ‘Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the body, law and the state’; for Cultures of Sustainable Peace, and is now co-Director of the Global Challenge Research Fund South South Migration Hub. She is Ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council. She received an OBE in 2012 and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Waterloo, Canada in 2023. She is an academic, activist, educator and published poet and a member of the Iona Community.

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Dr Deval Desai

Reader in International Economic Law, University of Edinburgh

Dr Deval Desai is Reader in International Economic Law. He joined Edinburgh Law School in 2020. His work focuses on law and development, administrative law and regulation, theories of the state, and their relationship to patterns of knowledge and authority. He has taught on these topics at the Geneva Graduate Institute, Harvard Law School, Manchester, Northeastern Law School, SOAS, and the Universidad de los Andes. Deval trained in history and French literature (M.A., Oxford), and law and social theory (LL.M. and S.J.D., Harvard Law School). At Harvard, he held the Byse, Program on Negotiation Next Generation, and Institute for Global Law and Policy fellowships. In recognition of his work on law and development, he held an inaugural Bingham Center International Rule of Law Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Member of the Young Academy of Scotland.


Professor Nasar Meer FRSE

Professor of Social and Political Science, University of Glasgow

Nasar Meer FRSE FAcSS is Professor of Social and Political Science at the University of Glasgow and Academic Chair of the Stuart Hall Foundation. He is co-Investigator of The Impacts of the Pandemic on Ethnic and Racialized Groups in the UK (ESRC) and Principal Investigator of the Governance and Local Integration of Migrants and Europe’s Refugees (GLIMER) (JPI ERA Net / Horizon-2020). He has been a Commissioner on the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Post-COVID-19 Futures Inquiry, a Member of the Scottish Government COVID-19 and Ethnicity Expert Reference Group, and co-Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Identities: Global Studies n Culture and Power, and his recent publications include The Cruel Optimism of Racial Justice (2022) and The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges (co-authored, 2020). He has previously held a Minda de Gunzburg Fellowship at Harvard University, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the UK Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the RSE Thomas Reid Medal.

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Thursday December 7th, 2023 18:00-19:30


Hybrid Event



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