Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research

Forthcoming events

Rights Research Series

The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research Seminar Series includes a range of events, including external speakers, work in progress seminars, research cafés, and workshops.

In-person events are subject to us being able to book a room. For online access please sign up to our internal mailing list, our external events and announcements list, or contact us by email. Everyone is welcome – in whatever format is most convenient for you. 

Spring 2024 Rights Research Series 

Friday 1st March 2024, Generate and Engage: The Use of Lethal and AI-Enabled Autonomous Weapon Systems in Armed Conflict

Friday 1st March: Ioannis Valiakos (PhD Candidate at Sussex Law School and SCHRR member)

Title: ‘Generate and Engage: The Use of Lethal and AI-Enabled Autonomous Weapon Systems in Armed Conflict’

Abstract: In the past few years, there is discussion about a new class of means of warfare, often referred to as lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). It is generally expected that these WS will be designed in a manner that will enable them to choose their own targets in war without requiring or even admitting any further input by human operators once they have been activated. Questions are therefore raised by the international community and interdisciplinary authors about a legal requirement for human control if force will be used by means of such WS. Only naturally, discussion also extends to issues of legal compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and legal responsibility through International Criminal Law (ICL) in the event that the “decisions” made by these WS result in violations of IHL that are punishable by existing ICL. 

Against this background, one of the core premises of my thesis is that autonomous systems should be clearly distinguished from automated ones, with the former being generative systems whereas the latter are necessarily deterministic. Based on this distinction, I discuss challenges for human control and legal compliance due to the autonomous and artificially intelligent nature of operation of these WS. Up next, on the question of the so-called ‘accountability gap’, at the heart of my thesis there is my argument that the ‘who is to blame’ question addressed by the majority of interdisciplinary contributors to the debate is the wrong question to ask. Instead, adopting a human-centric approach, I am of the view that we should take a step back and first consider “what is required from whom” in terms of legal obligations. In asking this question, my thesis ultimately holds that the harmer is always the human.

Date: Friday 1st March 2024

Time: 12.00-14.00

Venue: Fulton 209 and Online

Wednesday 6th March 2024, In the aftermath of October 7th, 2023: Jewish identity and genocide

Wednesday 6th March 2024: Prof Haim Bresheeth (Centre for Global Media and Communications, SOAS and filmmaker/photographer) 

Title: 'In the aftermath of October 7th, 2023: Jewish identity and genocide'

Time: 14.00-16.00

Venue: Freeman G22 and Online

Wednesday 13th March 2024, Nadiia Maksimentseva, 'The Derogation of Rights and Freedoms in Ukraine during the Martial Law' and Emily Yates and Matthew Smith, 'Transport, Disability Rights and the Regulatory landscape'

Wednesday 13th March 2024: Dr Nadiia Maksimentseva (Faculty of Law, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, Ukraine and SCHRR Visiting Research Fellow), Emily Yates (UK Transport and public ownership activist) and Matthew Smith (former UK Government advisor on Rail accessibility). 

Titles: 'The Derogation of Rights and Freedoms in Ukraine during Martial Law', Dr Nadiia Maksimentseva

'Great British Railways – privatisation, competition and human rights', Emily Yates and Matthew Smith

Transport activist Emily Yates examines new draft legislation for ‘Great British Railways’, and its five-year policy history; arguing it has been dominated by competition law concerns at the expense of equality and human rights. As the government attempts to reboot rail privatisation, she shares the results of her live investigation to show the urgency for a new agenda for public ownership ahead of the general election.

Matthew Smith (former government advisor on rail accessibility) takes disability rights as a case study, reflecting on a high-profile campaign last year that successfully fought back ticket office closures and railway destaffing. He examines the current state of rail accessibility against the policy and regulatory background described, explaining its impact on the right to independent living and progressive realisation.

We are also delighted to be joined by Dr Liana Japaridze (Lecture in Competition Law, Sussex Law School), acting as discussant for Emily and Matthew's paper.

Time: 16.00-18.00 

Venue: Freeman F40 and Online

Wednesday 20th March 2024, Ihab Maharmeh, 'Palestinian Workers' Resistance in the Age of Neoliberal Settler Colonialism' and Aravind Ganesh, 'Waves of Freedom: Human Rights to Rescue on the High Seas'

Wednesday 20th March 2024: lhab Maharmeh (PhD Candidate in Politics at Sussex and SCHRR member) and Aravind Ganesh (Lecturer in Law at Sussex and SCHRR member) 

Titles and abstracts: 

lhab Maharmeh, ‘Palestinian Workers’ Resistance in the Age of Neoliberal Settler Colonialism’.


This paper examines the intricate dynamics faced by indigenous workers under the combined influences of settler colonialism and neoliberalism. It argues that Israel, utilizing neoliberal reforms as a neoliberal settler colonial entity, promotes 'soft' patterns of dispossession and the systematic erasure of Palestinian workers. This process, which devalues the lives of indigenous people by turning their deaths into commodity, emerges as a violent method of accumulation. Furthermore, the paper explores the diverse resistance tactics employed by these workers against such oppressive systems. It argues that resistance extends beyond the traditional frameworks of social movements, taking shape through a variety of political actions and activism. These resistance forms, deeply rooted in lived experiences rather than theoretical discourse, encompass a broad spectrum of tactics—from individual to collective and from organized to spontaneous. A 'logic of rejection' binds these diverse approaches together.

Aravind Ganesh, ‘Waves of Freedom: Human Rights to Rescue on the High Seas’.

Imagine yourself a traveller on the high seas. You could be anything from a stateless migrant crammed beside hundreds of others on a dinghy to a billionaire on a top-of-the-line mega-yacht. Whatever you may be, the vessel carrying you begins to sink, so you send a distress signal calling for help. That signal is received by a ship belonging to the coast guard or navy of some sovereign state, which neither collided into your vessel nor otherwise caused it to become stricken. You are neither a national of nor otherwise linked to that ship’s flag state. To wit, the international law of the sea places the master of that ship under a duty to offer you maritime assistance to the best of her ability. The question, however, is whether you can enforce that duty as an obligation personal to you; that is, whether you have a ‘right’ to a rescue on the high seas.

In this paper I draw upon ideas from the legal and political philosophy of Immanuel Kant to argue that all seafarers do indeed have that right, and that it is a human right. I further contend that we must dispense with the Grotian idea that the high seas are a ‘commons’ and instead conceive them as ‘global public goods’; that is, things the international legal order must – indeed, always already does – publicly maintain under public institutions. 

Time: 16.00-18.00 

Venue: Freeman F40 and Online

Wednesday 1st May 2024, Roundtable: 'Human rights accountability in and beyond international courts'

Wednesday 1st May 2024

Title: Roundtable: 'Human rights accountability in and beyond international courts'.

Abstract: Recently, the Republic of South Africa’s proceedings against the State of Israel at the International Court of Justice have drawn international political, legal and public attention to the roles of international courts in human rights accountability, as well as the ways in which these are imbricated in questions over politics, power and (il)legitimacy. In the shadow of the ongoing South Africa v. Israel proceedings, this roundtable considers prospects and limitations for human rights accountability in and beyond international courts. Contributors intervene from a range of perspectives on questions regarding the purposes and impacts of, and the alternatives to, international courts in human rights accountability.

Panellists include: Chris Henderson, Bal Sokhi-Bulley, Darcy Leigh, Tarik Kochi, Matthew Evans, Aisling O'Sullivan, Elizabeth Craig, Stephanie Berry

Time: 14.00-16.00 

Venue: Freeman F40 and Online via eventbrite