Current Research Projects

Current Research Projects

GHRN members are involved in a wide range of research projects.  If you are interested in a specific project please contact the PI/lead researcher.

Realizing International Human Rights: Scotland on the Global Stage

Dr Jo Ferrie (Glasgow University, Teaching Lead and Equality & Diversity co-Lead, GHRN)

Dr Elaine Webster (Strathclyde University, Steering Group, GHRN)

Prof Rebecca Wallace (Robert Gordons University) are editing a special edition of the IJHR due to be published in 2017.

'Realizing International Human Rights: Scotland on the Global Stage', aims to chart Scotland's successes in mapping and realizing rights for an international audience. The end product will be a spcial edition of the International Journal of Human Rights.  The articles are written by established academics, early career scholars and practitioners in the field of human rights. There will also be a seminar series hosted by GHRN in Autumn 2015 to hear some of the key articles. More information will be released as it's available. A synopsis of the proposal‌ to the IJHR is available to download.‌

Moral Victories

Dr Kurt Mills (Co-investigator)

We are an inter-disciplinary team of researchers headquartered at the the University of Glasgow, and based across the US Naval War College, and the UK Joint Services Command and Staffing College.  We are affiliated to the School for Social and Political Sciences and the School of Humanities, and draw upon the support and expertise of the Glasgow Global Security Network, the Glasgow Human Rights Network, the Scottish Centre for War Studies, and Policy Scotland. Our aim is to bring together scholars and military professionals to consider the ethical issues that arise in relation to how violent armed conflicts are concluded.

Find out more about the Moral Victories project on the Policy Scotland website.


International Responses to Mass Atrocities in Africa: Responsibility to Protect, Prosecute and Palliate

Dr Kurt Mills

This project was supported by the British Academy and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and entailed dozens of interviews with practitioners and policymakers at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and the African Union in Addis Ababa.

This project examines how the international community responds to mass atrocities, using a much more holistic approach than is usually employed to analyse mass atrocity situations. It argues that states and other international actors have developed three sets of norms and practices to address such situations. The first is the responsiblity to protect, an assertion that when states cannot or will not stop genocide, crimes against humanity, and widespread war crimes in their territory, or are responsible for their commission, the international community has a duty to transgress sovereignty, including through the use of force, to protect civilians and stop the atrocities. Second is the recognition of the responsibility to prosecute those who commit such atrocities, institutionalized in the International Criminal Court, as well as ad hoc tribunals and the exercise of universal jurisdiction. Third is the provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by violent conflict, identified as the responsibility to palliate since humanitarian assistance can never do more than provide temporary relief for civilians caught in war. The project examines how these three responsibilities operate individually and together in four interrelated African case studies – Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Darfur. A core argument is that while these responsibilities have all arisen in the context of an ongoing global revolution in the protection of human rights, they do not always mutually support each other. Indeed, policmakers and practitioners face multiple conundrums when implementing one or more of these responses. Further, while norms have been accepted, there is frequently little will or capacity on the part of states and intergovernmental organizations to engage in appropriate action to protect civilians. The book uniquely examines atrocity response from multiple perspectives simultaneously, and will be of interest to international policymakers and those who are practically involved in stopping atrocities and protecting civilians in the midst of violent conflict, as well as all who are concerned about protecting people in conflict.

The outcome of this project will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2015.

Other outputs associated with this project include:

  • Kurt Mills, ‘R2P and ICC: Working Together?’ (2015) Criminal Law Forum 26 (March 2015)
  • Kurt Mills, ‘Humanitarian Space in Darfur: Caught Between the National and the International,’ (2014), in Negotiating Relief: The Dialectics of Humanitarian Space, New York: Oxford University Press/London: Hurst
  • Kurt Mills, ‘Africa and the International Criminal Court,’ (2014) in David Luban, Julie Rose O’Sullivan and David P. Stewart, eds., International and Transnational Criminal Law, Waltham: Wolters Kluwer
  • Kurt Mills, ‘R2P3: Protecting, Prosecuting or Palliating in Mass Atrocity Situations?’ (2013) Journal of Human Rights 12 (3)
  • Kurt Mills, ‘Constructing Humanitarian Space in Darfur’ (2013) International Journal of Human Rights 17 (5-6)
  • Kurt Mills, ‘“Bashir is Dividing Us”: Africa and the International Criminal Court’ (2012) Human Rights Quarterly 34 (2)
  • Kurt Mills, ‘Vacillating on Darfur: Responsibility to Protect, to Prosecute, or to Feed?’ (2009) Global Responsibility to Protect 1 (4)

Human Rights Protection in Global Politics: Responsibilities of States and Non-State Actors

Dr Kurt Mills and Dr David Karp

Human Rights Protection in Global Politics analyzes the contemporary human rights responsibilities of states, non-state and international actors. It includes an inter-disciplinary set of perspectives based in international relations, politics, law and philosophy. The book seeks to understand—but also to critique and to move beyond—the contributions of the ‘respect-protect-fulfil’ tripartite division of human rights responsibilities and the more recent ‘Responsibility to Protect’ policy framework. It rejects approaches that treat responsibilities to respect, not to harm, or not to violate human rights as entirely constitutive of our understanding of the responsibilities that global actors have. The book’s contributors engage in dialogue with each other, and sometimes even disagree, but are unified in their attempt to paint a more complex picture than is currently available about the nature of human rights protection and various global actors’ responsibility for it.

The project began life at a conference hosted by GHRN in 2012 entitled 'Protecting Human Rights: Duties and Responsibilities of States and Non-State Actors’, co-sponsored by the human rights sections of the International Studies Association, American Political Science Association, and the International Political Science Association. That conference received more than 200 paper submissions, with 60 papers presented. We invited several of the authors to present second drafts at an International Studies Association (ISA) Catalytic Research Workshop of the same name, held in San Francisco in April 2013, after the editors received funding from the ISA to hold that workshop. This ‘pre-ISA’ workshop had three main objectives: to encourage authors to reflect on the links between their own chapter and the book project as a whole (including the development of synergies with the other chapters); to improve the stand-alone quality of each chapter through peer feedback and editorial review; and to clarify the arguments of the book as a whole. The result of this three-round process of collaboration and revision is a book that benefits greatly from authors having closely read and commented on each other’s work. The process also has fused the various pieces of work into a project that is coherent while simultaneously allowing debate between different points of view.

The outcome of the process was published by Palgrave in January 2015 (ISBN 978–1–137–46316–6) - 'Protecting Human Rights: Duties and Responsibilities of States and Non-State Actors’

Don't Waste Our Future! Building a European alliance of youngsters against food waste and for new models of sustainable development and consumption

Dr Alan Britton (Scotland/UK contact)

The overall objective of the project is to increase the critical understanding, the accountability and the leading role of young European citizens in relation to sustainable development at a local and global level. The specific objectives are:

• Increase awareness among young Europeans on the issue of food waste, on responsible consumption and the relationship with the global right to food, in order to make them responsible agents of the necessary change;

• Build a European alliance of students against food waste and develop new models of development and sustainable lifestyles;

• Raise awareness among local authorities and their networks on the issue of food waste and the role they can play in the formation of citizens and promoting concrete actions - in the framework of their respective competencies - in the fight against food waste and, generally, in the construction of sustainable human development starting from their territories.

You can find out more by downloading Don't Waste Our Future - full details

Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth

The distinctively free online book Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change (London: School of Advanced Study, 2013) was co-edited by Dr. Matthew Waites of Glasgow Human Rights Network, with Dr. Corinne Lennox of Institute of Commonwealth Studies. Since publication Dr. Matthew Waites has been engaged in an ongoing project focused on impact and knowledge exchange, with extensive dissemination especially to LGBTI and human rights NGOs worldwide via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  Chapters from the book have been downloaded more than 18,500 times. On  18 July 2014 GHRN partnered Equality Network, Kaleidoscope Trust and Pride Glasgow when hosting the LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth conference, from which GHRN has published videos. Dr. Waites also contributed to the LGBTI People of the Commonwealth exhibition in 2014, and the event The Present Situation of LGBTI People in Uganda, and has engaged in a programme of public engagement; forthcoming events include LGBTI Human Rights Activism and Film, for which GHRN will partner the Canadian-based transnational project Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights.   Publications by Dr Waites have appeared in online periodicals such as The Conversation and Discover Society.


You can find out about the research our PhD students are involved in by visiting our PhD Research Projects section.