Exeter Law School
Very ornate gold coloured vaulted room with wall lamps and ceiling chandeliers. There is a person on a raised platform addressing a group of people who are sat down. There are also chairs and a lecturn on the raised area. A screen in the foreground is part of the presentation and displays the date 7 December 2023.

Marking Human Rights Day at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Posted by The Law School

12 December 2023

On Thursday 07 December 2023, Dr Louise Loder (Lecturer in Law and Director of Skills, Prizes & Alumni Engagement in the Law School) visited the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. She attended a very special event marking Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The invitation was from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth).

The event commenced with a recorded welcome message from Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron and a powerful address by Lord Ahmad. This was followed by an excellent panel discussion on human rights and democracy challenges and how we can inspire younger generations to pick up the mantle. The panel welcomed Lord Ahmad; Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director of Human Rights Watch; Sacha Deshmukh, CEO of Amnesty International UK; and Rita French, the UK’s Global Ambassador for Human Rights.

The day’s programme also included a wonderful panel of school children sharing their reflections on what human rights mean to them and a presentation from Roots2Justice. The event concluded with a lunch and networking reception.

Louise (who completed both her LLM and her PhD at Exeter and convenes the Law School’s Legal Foundations core module) is committed to embedding awareness, advocacy and skills for human rights and the SDGs within public and university legal education. This was at the core of her PhD research and her thesis ‘Rights by Design: Mainstreaming Human Rights Information, Education and Culture’, which she successfully defended in 2022 and articulates a vision for how we might embed human rights and sustainability education into the ‘world of the individual person’, in ‘all the small places, close to home’, from our families and communities to our places of study, work and worship. Her research was greatly inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s ‘Where do human rights begin?’ speech delivered in 1958 on the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt

In the 2023-2024 academic year, Louise has integrated human rights and sustainability topics into the core Legal Foundations module. The module includes:

  • Explorations of the human rights implications of AI and legal technology
  • Climate action and entrepreneur-led ‘justice tech’
  • The importance of open access to legal information, freedom of information, and the power of public legal education
  • Why law students need to know and care about the Sustainable Development Goals in order to better understand their future clients’ ESG and D&I priorities

This approach is closely aligned with Exeter’s Strategy 2030 for transformative education that ‘uses the power of education and research to create a sustainable, healthy and socially just future’ (Strategy 2030).

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