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Human Rights Futures conference asks: What's next for human rights?

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70 years on from the implementation of the United Nations (UN) universal declaration of human rights, the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University reflects on the future of human rights.

In a three-day conference, academics, experts and activists from around the world debated and contemplated the future of human rights, looking forward at the renewed and emerging challenges facing humanity.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, delivered a poignant opening keynote speech, welcoming visitors to the university and introducing three days of discussion on various topics and issues relating to human rights. 

Professor Sital Dhillon, director of the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice said: "Human rights face several challenges in a world of rapidly shifting global trends in economic power, the rise of populism and nationalism and mass migration. The human rights futures conference sought to identify these key challenges and then share responses which will help to meet them."

"The event included participation from all over the world, including a keynote speech from Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and a range of interactive sessions such as human rights theatre, litigation, clinics and the use of the written word, including poetry and literature to highlight key challenges in the 21st century."

Over the three days, the conference focused on three areas of discussion, with a range of panels, workshop sessions and talks exploring each area. The three strands; global threats to human rights in the 21st century, innovations in human rights, locally, nationally and globally and human rights and humanities considered the future of human rights, the issues we face and the positive changes we have made.

University Chancellor Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

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The human rights futures conference saw significant participation from around the world, giving the opportunity to strengthen key partnerships and liaise on collaborative projects. These include future working relationships with leading human rights centres at Binghamton University, the state university of New York and the Universidade do Estado do Rio Janeiro, the state university of Rio de Janeiro.

The University’s research is characterised by a focus on real world impact - addressing the health, cultural, economic and social challenges facing society today.

For press information:Laura Burden in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 5301or email