Andrew Searle

Andrew Searle

Department of History
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Is Anybody Listening?  Advocacy by Human Rights activists in Palestine between 1967-2006 and the politics of Human Rights in the UK. 
Supervisors:  Dr Chris Moores, Dr Simon Jackson and Professor Nicholas Crowson
PhD History


  • BA (hons) 1st in History, Open University
  • MA (distinction) Contemporary History, University of Birmingham


I am a doctoral researcher in History, funded by M3C/AHRC. The majority of my career has been in information technology, until ten years ago when I decided on a lifestyle change and became a part-time firefighter.  Whilst working in fire and rescue, I read for a degree in History and then a Masters in Contemporary History.  My areas of academic interest include:

  • Human Rights Activism
  • Humanitarianism
  • Greater Syria, Palestine and Transjordan from the Mandate period until early 2000
  • United Nations / League of Nations
  • Refugees and displaced people


How has understanding of human rights and the conflict in Palestine been constructed in the UK? 

My research examines the relationship between the late 20th century proliferation of human rights politics and the expanded role of the NGO at national and global levels.  It seeks to understand how political, cultural, strategic and tactical considerations shaped NGO responses to rights violations, examining changes in strategy and emphasis.  It especially focuses on the advocacy of Amnesty International, because of its role in establishing rights saliency, shaping public discourse via the media.  

I will draw on Amnesty’s scrutiny and advocacy of rights abuse in specific Middle Eastern contexts. In particular, Palestine’s complex legal status and history of large-scale rights violations represents a fine-grained social and cultural human rights narrative documented by multiple Human Rights Organisations.  The intractability of the conflict has created a fifty-year period through which to examine how the media have acted as interlocutors for human rights advocacy and the extent activist organisations have been protagonists in the emerging human rights discourse. 

Equally, I will consider the nascent strategies regimes employed to marginalise NGO allegations of human rights violations, identifying common patterns and methodologies.

Other activities

  • I continue in my part time firefighter capacity.

Conference papers

  • Round Table presentation on 'The Human Right to Dominate', as part of a conference entitled Human Rights in the 21st Century: Developing Rights in a Developing World, University of Birmingham (2018).  My paper discussed Gordon and Perugini's book contending that Human Rights advocacy can be misappropriated by the regimes that violate them.