Public Law and Human Rights

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At Birmingham Law School, there is a longstanding interest in relationships between the state and the individual, as refracted through the entanglement of law and politics. Our research covers not only enduring theoretical inquiries into the appropriate roles of and limits on judicial and political institutions, but also more timely and pressing questions of institutional design, nationally and internationally. 

With a variety of modules offered on the School’s LLB and LLM programmes, an active and growing postgraduate community and a discussion group that meets throughout the year, public law and human rights is at the very heart of Birmingham Law School’s research culture. 

Our research has impact beyond the Law School: we present our research at conferences throughout the world, publish widely and have advised a range of policy-makers.

Public law theory

Our research interests embrace public law theory. Jane Norton is interested in applied normative theory, exploring how the state should regulate exercises of power by bodies that sit between the state and individual. Graham Gee’s research includes constitutional theory, with recent work interrogating the nature, content and limits of political models of the constitution. Anastasia Vakulenko is interested in human rights and critical theory.

Comparative public law

Comparative public law is a thread that binds much of our work. Recent publications span a wide range of international jurisdictions (Canada, France, Ireland, Kosovo, Latvia, South Africa and the United States) and an equally wide variety of substantive issues (the legal regulation of same-sex relationships, national self-determination, religious freedom). Sophie Boyron has recently completed a book on the French constitution and her future research includes a comparative analysis of second chambers in legislative institutions.

Regulation and institutional Design

Connecting public law and human rights to questions of regulation and institutional Design is a central theme of our work. Jane Norton’s recent research has explored the relationship between religious tribunals and religious freedom, with a special focus on vulnerable members of religious communities. Dominic de Cogan examines relationships between public law, regulation and tax policy.

Minority rights and legal pluralism

Investigating the relationships between minority rights and legal pluralism is a vital theme of our research. Gulara Guliyeva’s work is focused on the protection of national minority rights, with recent work on the challenges posed by languages and linguistic minorities in the EU. Anastasia Vakulenko has written widely how freedom of religion in domestic and international human rights law is configured by a particular post-Christian understanding of secularism and religion. Rosa Freedman is currently exploring how "hybridity", a discourse that moves beyond post-colonialism, is being used by states seeking to expand and/or change aspects of international law.

Human Rights in a National Security Age

Much of our work examines Human Rights in a National Security Age. Adrian Hunt writes on human rights in the context of police and executive counter-terrorism powers. Bharat Malkani’s research examines the relationships between human rights and criminal justice. Much of Rosa Freedman's research has focused on the United Nations human rights machinery, and she has recently published a monograph on the UN Human Rights Council.