Human Rights in the 21st Century: Developing Rights in a Developing World

This interdisciplinary postgraduate conference aims to look at how human rights work in a changing world, including how human rights are being developed in the context of things such as technology and how human rights may be expanded to take account of developing issues (such as reproductive rights, refugees and the climate) as well as how the very purpose and impact of human rights may be changing.

Friday 20th July 2018

University of Birmingham, 

Birmingham, B15 2TT

10:00 -18:00

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We are delighted to invite submissions to participate in the postgraduate conference ‘Human Rights in the 21st Century: Developing Rights in a Developing World’. This one-day interdisciplinary conference aims to examine how human rights work in a changing world.
We invite contributions that consider, amongst other issues:


  • What is the current status of human rights?

  • Are human rights conceptually and theoretically successful, or do they need amending and/or replacing?

  • Can human rights apply to changing environments, such as the online world?

  • How should we implement human rights in countries that are still developing their human rights?

  • How do human rights apply to developing issues, such as reproductive rights, etc?

  • How can human rights link to sustainable development goals, with a particular focus on modern slavery?

Alongside our keynote speeches, the conference is scheduled around three events:


  • Postgraduate paper presentations.

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) plenary roundtable.

  • Introduction of a follow-on funding pot for new projects about modern slavery and sustainable development.


Details of each event can be found below, alongside information on how to apply to take part.



Postgraduate Paper Presentations


The conference will feature 8 postgraduate paper presentations. Papers can be any topic related to the conference theme (including, but not limited to, the suggestions mentioned above). Any current postgraduate student can apply and we encourage submissions from all disciplines, including but not limited to: law, philosophy, political science, history, literature, and sociology.


To apply, please submit an abstract of 500 words maximum.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 18th May 2018. 


Paper presentations should be no more than 20 minutes long.


To submit an abstract, please send:


1. An anonymised abstract in .doc or .pdf format, and

2. A separate document containing author information (name, paper title, email address, and affiliation) to


All abstracts will be blind reviewed.

Decisions will be announced by Monday 18th June 2018.

Accepted speakers will be eligible to apply for a limited travel bursary.

Roundtable: Sustainable Development Goals

During the day, Professor Zoe Trodd (The Rights Lab, University of Nottingham) and Dr Robin Brierley (West Midlands Anti Slavery Network) will lead a roundtable discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The purpose of the roundtable is to consider practice responses to SDGs, with a particular focus
on modern slavery and related issues (for example, gender equality, poverty, forced marriage, conflict).
It is hoped that the roundtable will encourage interdisciplinary discussion on this vital issue.

Professor Trodd and Dr Brierley will lead a discussion on SDGs with postgraduate panellists,
and workshop ideas on responses to SDGs with the panellists and other roundtable attendees. There will
be time for questions from the panel members.

To apply to deliver a 5-minute presentation as one of the 4 postgraduate student speakers, please send:

  1. A brief description of your current research.

  2. A summary indicating which SDGs you see this research connecting to, alongside a suggestion of questions and issues that you would like to consider during the panel.

Applications should be sent to by Friday 18th May, 2018.

Decisions will be announced by Monday 18th June 2018. Accepted panel speakers will be eligible to apply for a limited travel bursary.

Rights Lab “New Directions in Slavery and Sustainable Development” Award


The University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab invites proposals for new funded projects delivering research and impact towards SDG 8.7 (ending slavery by 2030). They welcome projects that connect this target to other SDG topics and targets – building an intersectional approach to achieving the SDGs.


All, and only, conference attendees and participants can submit proposals for this funding pot.

Proposals will be due by September 3rd, 2018, for projects that last between 1 month and 1 year,

with an anticipated individual project budget of between £500 and £2000. Awardees will be notified

by October 1st, 2018, and projects must begin by November 1st, 2018.


An application form and guidance will be available before the conference so that you can also use the conference to network with prospective team members about the proposal. These materials can be requested from after June 25th, 2018.


To be eligible to apply for the funding pot, you must be a conference attendee/participant. Please see the registration details below.


The conference is free to attend. Lunch and refreshments are provided.


Registration will officially close on June 25th, 2018, and the conference is limited to 60 delegates. Please register early to avoid disappointment.


To register to attend the conference, please go to the following link: 'Eventbrite: Human Rights in the 21st Century'


If you have any questions, please contact us at



Professor Zoe Trodd

University of Nottingham

Professor Zoe Trodd is the Director of the Rights Lab, a University of Nottingham Beacon of Excellence that is delivering research to help end global slavery by 2030. Her books include To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves (2008), Modern Slavery (2009), The Tribunal (2012), and Picturing Frederick Douglass (2015). She currently holds two major research grants, the Antislavery Usable Past (2014-19) and the Antislavery Knowledge Network (2017-21).


Dr Illan Wall

University of Warwick

Dr Illan Wall is an Associate Professor at the University of Warwick. His research focuses on the relationship between law and disorder. He has published on critical legal theory and theories of human rights. He has just completed an Early Career Research Fellowship from the Independent Social Research Foundation and is one of the editors of the blog


Panel led by Professor Zoe Trodd and Dr Robin Brierley from the West Midlands Anti Slavery Network.


10.00 Registration 
11.00 Keynote: Dr Illan Wall
12.00 Break with refreshments
12.15 PGs present their 30-minute papers 
13.15 Lunch
14.15 PGs present their 30-minute papers 
15:15 Break with refreshments
15:30 Keynote: Professor Zoe Trodd
16:30 Break with refreshments
16:45 SDG Roundtable, led by Professor Trodd and Dr Robin Brierley
18:00 Conference Ends

© 2018 by Human Rights Conference

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This conference is generously supported by a partnership between Midlands3Cities and The Rights Lab, University of Nottingham.
© Human Rights Conference 2018 
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