Centre for European Law and Internationalisation

News and events

The latest activities from CELI

Dr Jens T Theilen on ‘The concept of Europe: Progress, colonial continuities, and the European Convention on Human Rights’, 16 May 2023

An analysis on the ‘concept of Europe’ in the "European" Convention on Human Rights, especially with regard to narratives of progress and colonial continuities.

Dr Jens TheilenDebates on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) are awash with references to Europe, from early invocations of the ‘concept of Europe’ by Pierre-Henri Teitgen, via the idea of the ECHR as a constitutional instrument of the ‘European’ public order, to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as the ‘conscience of Europe’. Yet these references to Europe have gone largely unanalysed in academic commentary. In this presentation, I will argue that they build on the time-space of European colonialism, positing Europe as a progressive space that is hierarchically superior to non-European territories, ostensibly lagging behind Europe in civilizational terms.

I trace the ‘concept of Europe’ from early debates on the need for a specifically European human rights instrument to three areas that remain relevant to the present day: questions of territorial applicability, especially but not exclusively the so-called ‘colonial clause’ (Art. 56 ECHR); doctrinal figures developed by the ECtHR, particularly the ‘European consensus’ argument associated with the margin of appreciation; and, finally, academic and policy debates on the position of the ECHR in relation to regions outside of Europe, and of the ECtHR in relation to other human rights bodies. My claim will be that the sense of European ownership of human rights and the localization of progress as European shines through in each of these areas, and hence that the time-space of colonialism is constitutive of European identity as expressed within human rights law. In closing, I will consider the broader implications of this claim for the ECHR and what it might mean to move towards a different ‘concept of Europe’.


Open to: All
Date and time: 16 May 2023, 13:00–14:00
Location online via Teams

‘Migration & Race: Human Rights or Nation-Centred Justice?’ A public talk by Hiroshi Motomura, 4 May 2023

Public Talk by leading US immigration scholar Prof. Hiroshi Motomura entitled 'Migration and Race: Human Rights or Nation-Centred Justice?'

The Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI), the Migration, Mobility and Citizenship Network (MMCN) and the Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law (JIANL) invite you to a public talk by award-winning scholar and author Prof. Hiroshi Motomura (with Q&A/discussion) entitled 'Migration and Race: Human Rights or Nation-Centred Justice?' which draws on themes explored in Hiroshi’s current book project Ethical Borders: Toward a Fair, Realistic, and Sustainable Immigration Policy.


Working toward ethical borders requires a conceptual framework to guide the way. Over the past several generations in the United States, much of this framework for immigration policy has come from the civil rights movement and its role in responding to racism. But this approach to expanding rights in immigration law and immigrants’ rights in the United States raises a basic question: can a civil rights framework — or any other framework based on claims to national belonging — do the conceptual and persuasive work needed to make borders ethical? Or do ideas based on human rights play an essential role? What is the relationship between human rights and nation-centred justice in migration policy?


Open to: All
Registration via Eventbrite 
Date and time: Thu 4 May 2023, 4:00–5:00pm
Venue: Council Suite, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester, University Road Leicester, LE1 7RH
Contact: Dr Alan Desmond 

Workshop with Prof. Hiroshi Motomura on his book project 'Ethical Borders', 4 May

This is an opportunity to discuss the working draft of the current book project of leading US immigration law scholar Prof. Hiroshi Motomura   

In this informal workshop we will discuss 3 chapters (see chapter outlines below) from Hiroshi Motomura's current book project, Ethical Borders: Toward Fair, Realistic, and Sustainable Immigration Policy. The most recent drafts of the chapters will be distributed to participants on 28 April. Attendees are not obliged to read all 3 chapters in advance; Hiroshi will spend a few minutes summarising each chapter before the discussion of the chapter in question.

Chapters for discussion during the workshop

  • Chapter on forced migration: Working title: What About People Forced to
  • Refugee protection in the twentieth-century
  • The political sustainability of refugee protection
  • Managing refugee protection
  • Refugees or migrants?
  • Ways forward

Chapter on Regularisation of Undocumented Migrants: Working title: Should Status Be Offered to People Without It?

  • For and against legalization
  • Legalization and the rule of law
  • The limits of legalization

Chapter on the root causes of migration: Working title: How Can Migration’s Root Causes Be Addressed?

  • The meaning of root causes
  • Transit countries
  • Broader contexts for response to migration

Organised in conjunction with the Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI), the Migration, Mobility and Citizenship Network (MMCN) and the Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law (JIANL), 


Open to: All
Registration via Eventbrite 
Date and time: Thu, 4 May 2023, 12:00–1:30pm
Venue: Sir Bob Burgess Building, Room 2.04, University of Leicester University Road Leicester, LE1 7RH
Contact: Dr Alan Desmond 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ 75th Anniversary Conference, 28 April 2023

A discussion of the progress made, and one still to be made, by the UK in the area of Human Rights

For many years governmental action related to human rights protection in the UK has focussed almost exclusively on the ECHR due to the close link between that instrument and the Human Rights Act 1998. This event will highlight the importance of the additional ‘International Human Rights’ in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and draw attention to what the UDHR demands of the UK. It will identify how aspects of the UK’s legal regime are wanting with respect to the protection of certain of these rights, exploring how they may be made more real in the UK context. 

The forthcoming 75th anniversary of the UDHR, on 10 December 2023, is an opportunity to pursue this objective. The event will highlight how the UDHR requires a far more enlightened vision of human rights protection than that witnessed in the UK’s domestic legal landscape, and associated with debates about reform of the HRA, plus negative narratives about ‘human rights’ generally associated with that. A reappraisal or reawakening of this field is necessary, especially in the context of post-Brexit, ‘global’, Britain.

We would like to thank the Modern Law Review for their generous sponsorship of this event.


Open to: All
Registration: via Eventbrite
Date and time: 28 April 2023, at 09:45-16:45 BST
Venue: Council Room, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester University Road Leicester LE1 7RH
For more information please contact Dr Ed Bates or Dr Steve Riley

CELI Annual Lecture 2023: Shamima Begum and the Future of British Citizenship, 27 April 2023

Professor Matthew Gibney (University of Oxford) will be looking at the case of Shamina Begum and the prospects for security of British citizenship over the coming decade

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the individual the right to a nationality and protection against its arbitrary deprivation. Over the last two decades these guarantees have been challenged by the revival of citizenship stripping in response to Islamist terrorism across Western states. Nowhere has this been more true than in the UK, which has broader and more frequently used citizenship stripping powers than any other liberal democratic state.
In this talk, I will take as my starting point the well-publicised case of Shamima Begum to consider the set of legal and political factors that made it possible for this young British-born Muslim woman to find herself effectively stateless and indefinitely detained in northern Syria. Thinking through these factors, I will then turn to consider where British citizenship is likely to head over the next decade. Drawing on my work on the history of denationalisation power, I will argue that, in spite of its recent trajectory, British citizenship is likely to become more secure over the coming decade. The reasons for this lie less in the law and judicial intervention than in politics and changing international circumstances.
Matthew Gibney is Professor of Politics and Forced Migration at the University of Oxford and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. He is also Distinguished Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto. He specialises in the political and ethical issues raised by refugees, citizenship, and migration control and has a prolific and influential record of publication on these topics. 


Open to: All
Date and time: 27 April 2023, 4:00pm
Venue: Fielding Johnson Council Suite
For more information please contact Alan Desmond or Ed Bates 

Russia’s 2022 War against Ukraine and a New international security architecture, 6 March 2023

Dr Luigi Lonardo (University College Cork) will give a talk on the role of the EU in the war against Ukraine.

CELI is hosting a seminar reflecting on the first 12 months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Drawing on some of the themes developed in Russia 2022 War against Ukraine and the EU Foreign Policy Reaction (Palgrave 2022), Dr Luigi Lonardo will analyse how the war has affected the fragile security architecture established in Europe after the end of the Cold War. By adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, Dr Lonardo will delve into topics such as the EU diplomatic response to the war, the Ukrainian application for membership of the EU and the question of the future role of Russia in the security system of the European continent. 

Dr. Luigi Lonardo is a lecturer in EU law at University College Cork, Ireland, and a visiting lecturer in European Foreign Security and Defence Policy at Sciences Po in Paris, France. He is the author of EU Common Foreign and Security Policy after Lisbon: Between Law and Geopolitics (2022) and Russia 2022 War against Ukraine and the EU Foreign Policy Reaction (2023).


Open to: All
Date and time: 6 March, 4.00pm–5.00pm
Online event via Teams
Contact: For more information please contact rossana.deplano@leicester.ac.uk

Dr Rossana Deplano has published the monograph Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives on International Law: How States Use the UN General Assembly to Create International Obligations.

Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives on International Law: How States Use the UN General Assembly to Create International Obligations book coverEmpirical and Theoretical Perspectives on International Law: How States Use the UN General Assembly to Create International Obligations (Cambridge University Press 2022). The book provides an original study of the use of resolutions by states in three different contexts: at the time of adoption within the General Assembly, within domestic law and in international practice. By employing a combination of empirical and theoretical perspectives, the book offers a unique methodological perspective to the study of the legal significance of resolutions and an insightful examination of how the resolutions of the General Assembly transition from soft law to binding law through state practice. It thus provides an original contribution to the academic literature.

Seminar on the UK Rwanda Asylum Plan, 4 July 2022

CELI, in collaboration with the University of Leicester’s Migration, Mobility and Citizenship Network, is hosting a seminar on the UK Rwanda Asylum Plan.

The Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI) and the University of Leicester Migration, Mobility and Citizenship Network are hosting an interdisciplinary seminar on the UK Rwanda Asylum Plan. The seminar will examine the substantive legal issues with the UK Rwanda Plan, will examine the substantive legal issues with the Plan, the Brexit background and the UK legislative provisions, the policy background and implications of the Plan and an analysis of the June 2022 interim judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The seminar will be chaired by Dr Ed Bates (Law) and host presentations by Dr Alan Desmond (Law), Professor Bernard Ryan (Law), Dr Kelly Staples (Politics) and Dr Loveday Hodson (Law).


Open to: all
Date and time: Monday, 4 July 2022, 2.00pm – 3.30pm
Venue: online
Contact: For more information please contact rossana.deplano@leicester.ac.uk

New CELI publication

Professor Katja Ziegler (Leicester Law School) has co-edited the Research Handbook on General Principles in EU Law published by Edward Elgar.

The Research Handbook on General Principles in EU Law is divided into 34 chapters, the research handbook is the result of a collaboration of researchers from Leicester, led by Professor Katja Ziegler, and across Europe. The project was kick-started by a two-day workshop in 2018 and generously funded by the European Commission and the British Academy. The handbook hosts chapters by Professor Katja Ziegler and Dr Ewa Zelazna as well as former Leicester Law School’s PhD students Dr Cristina Sáenz Pérez and Dr Aristi Volou.

More information, including some “Open Access” chapters, are available. /p<>

Please contact katja.ziegler@leicester.ac.uk for further information.

Call for papers: ‘Dispute Resolution and Religion: a Roundtable’ (deadline 20 June 2022)

Dr Blerina Xheraj and Dr Paolo Vargiu are organizing an event on dispute resolution and religion. The event is funded by Leicester Law School.

The role of religion in dispute resolution is particularly controversial. In addition to the specific mechanisms for resolving disputes based directly on religious questions established within the various confessional institutions, religious issues also emerge significantly in disputes arising out of private, public, criminal and international legal matters. The relevance and influence of religion in such disputes, however, is rarely the subject of study and research. The aim of the roundtable is thus to explore the role of religion in the solution of international disputes.

Contributions addressing any of the following issues will be considered, based on the quality of the papers/abstracts and the expertise of the authors

  • The role of arbitration, mediation and conciliation in religious matters
  • The effects of judgments and decisions of religious bodies on domestic and international legal relationships
  • The effect of international decisions on religious bodies
  • Theoretical underpinnings of religious dispute resolution
  • Regional perspectives, broadly understood
  • Other relevant issues

The roundtable will bring together scholars working in international law, public and constitutional law, private law, criminal law, law and religion, international relations, history, philosophy, and related disciplines. We are seeking empirically - as well as theoretically-oriented draft papers and abstracts that address one or more of the above questions. Different disciplinary approaches are welcome, as long as the focus remains on the main topic of the workshop. Precedence will be given to those submitting draft papers.

Please send your submission, accompanied by a short CV, by 20 June 2022 to blerina.xheraj@le.ac.uk and/or paolo.vargiu@le.ac.uk.

We aim at communicating the results of the selection process by June 27. The organizing committee shall be able to cover up to £150 in travel expenses for speakers who will attend in person. Please confirm in your email if you will attend in person.

The roundtable is funded by Leicester Law School.

Supported by: Centre for European Law and Internationalization (CELI)

With the participation of: Observatory on Religious Freedom in the Jurisprudence of the ECHR (ORFECT)

Media Partner: Transnational Dispute Management

The journey of business and human rights arbitration from Geneva to The Hague, 30 March 2022

The third event of the CELI Annual Lecture Series 2021-2022 examines how international arbitration can contribute to human rights protection in context of business disputes.

The UN Human Right Council adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (UNGPs) ten years ago and in October 2021, it recognized a new fundamental right of access to ‘a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment’. International arbitration legal instruments - to the contrary - do not necessarily address human rights and for that reason, the regime suffers from legitimacy crises. How is the international arbitration community responding to the call for greater integration of human rights protection in business disputes? Can existing investment treaties protect environmental goals? What legal and non-legal tools can arbitration practitioners use to direct international arbitration practice towards an effective protection of human rights? Our speakers will address these questions, and many more related to the journey of business and human rights issues in recent international and arbitration legal initiatives. 


Event recording

Date and time: 30 March 2022, 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Venue: Online
Contact: For more information please contact blerina.xheraj@leicester.ac.uk
Read our privacy notice (PDF, 147KB)

The situation in Ukraine, 11 March 2022

An interdisciplinary event blending legal and historical analyses of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The event is chaired by Dr Sarah Fox.


  • Dr Sergey Sayapin (Associate Professor, KIMEP University, Kazakhstan and CELI Research Associate) – International Law aspects 
  • Dr Alex Korb (Associate Professor in Modern European History, University of Leicester) – "Putin's obsessions. Russia, the Ukraine, and their shared past" 
  • Dr Ewa Zelazna (Lecturer, Leicester Law School) – The EU intervention 
  • Prof. Katja Ziegler (Sir Robert Jennings Professor of International Law and CELI Co-Director) – The rule of law (role of) 
  • Dr Loveday Hodson (Associate Professor, Leicester Law School) – Human rights implications of the Russian invasion 
  • Dr Alan Desmond (Lecturer, Leicester Law School) – On the unfolding refugee crisis 

Followed by a question and answer session.


Open to: All
Date and time: 26 January 2022, 5.00pm – 7.00pm
Venue: online
Contact: ed.bates@leicester.ac.uk
Read our privacy notice (PDF, 147KB)

The future of human rights protection in the UK – a “Modern Bill of Rights”?, 26 January 2022

Do the UK Government's 2022 proposals to establish a “Modern Bill of Rights” represent a backward step in human rights protection, and what is motivating them?

In December 2021, the UK government published two documents vital for the future of the protection of human rights in the UK: a detailed, 500-page Independent Review of the Human Rights Act, and a Consultation on reforming the Act. The latter is entitled: ‘Human Rights Act Reform: A Modern Bill of Rights’. It contains the government’s proposals for human rights reform; however, it ignores several of the Independent Review’s recommendations, and raises many new issues. Critics argue the proposals within the Consultation would diminish rights protection significantly. It is said to be politically motivated, aiming to insulate the government from legal challenge, and pushback on the European Court of Human Rights’ influence within the UK. This event is a chance to hear from experts discussing the Consultation’s proposals and envisaging what a ‘Modern Bill of Rights’ for the twenty-first century might look like.


  • Dr Ed Bates, Leicester Law School, University of Leicester.
  • Professor Merris Amos, Professor of Human Rights Law, Queen Mary, University of London.
  • Dr Lewis Graham, Law Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford.
  • Dr Kasey McCall-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Public International Law, University of Edinburgh Law School.


Event recording

Open to: All
Date and time: 26 January 2022, 5.00pm – 7.00pm
Venue: Online
Contact: ed.bates@leicester.ac.uk
Read our privacy notice (PDF, 147KB)

Book launch: The emergent African Union Law: Conceptualization, delimitation, and application, 26 January 2022

Written by members of the African Union Law Research Network, the book discloses the work and organisation of the Union.

The book is written by members of the African Union Law Research Network and advances the conversation on the norm generating aspects of the work of the AU, its organs, and its institutions. The book covers a broad spectrum of aspects of AU law, including harmonisation and integration, human rights, peace and security, intellectual property, customary law, statelessness, terrorism, taxation, land management, sustainable development, dispute resolution, business enterprises, competition law, taxation, intellectual property, financial institutions, and consumer protection. The book is published by Oxford University Press.

Ambassador Negm, the African Union’s Legal Counsel will be the keynote speaker at the launch event hosted by the International Law and Policy in Africa Network (ILPAN) and the Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI).


Open to: All
Date and time: 26 January 2022, 12.30pm – 2.00pm (UK time)
Venue: online
Contact: eki.omorogbe@leicester.ac.uk
Read our privacy notice (PDF, 147KB)

No more Blackface: The trial of Black Pete, 15 December 2021

The first event of the CELI Annual Lecture Series 2021-2022 will take place on 15 December 2021, 4.00-6.00pm via Teams Live. Speaker: Dr Frank King.

The feast of St. Nicholas, a Father Christmas-style figure, is widely celebrated in The Netherlands, as it is in a number of other European countries. In the last decade, the character of Black Pete, St. Nicholas’ servant, has been the target of a successful anti-racism campaign. Black Pete is traditionally impersonated by white people wearing blackface. Frank King was the lawyer representing anti-Black Pete activists in the Amsterdam Administrative Court in 2014. At the centre of the legal challenge was the licence which the city of Amsterdam had issued for the 2013 St Nicholas parade. In this lecture, Dr King will discuss his experiences and reflect on the role of the court case in ending the blackface tradition.


Event recording

Open to: All
Date and time: 1 December 2021, 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Venue: Online
Contact: Dr Lieve Gies

Prestigious UKRI grant awarded for critical COVID-19 research

Dr Lieve Gies (School of Media, Communication and Sociology) has been awarded a UKRI Emergency Route for Time-critical COVID-19 Research grant by the ESRC.

University students are high-risk spreaders of COVID-19. Effective delivery of vaccines to this population group is essential for the intertwined goals of preventing disease cases, breaking transmission cycles and economic recovery. Delivery of effective student-centred COVID-19 vaccine campaigns will require a clear understanding of how different student groups perceive COVID-19 vaccines. This study, led by Professor Chris Bayliss (Department of Genetics) and Dr Lieve Gies (School of Media, Communication and Sociology), aims to develop informed recommendations for these campaigns by examining the importance of convenient vaccine delivery and whether differing pandemic experiences (including experiences of harassment and hate speech) negatively or positively impact on students’ decisions relating to vaccine uptake.

As part of the research project, there will be a large survey of University of Leicester students, followed by one-to-one semi-structured interviews with up to 80 participants. Interviews will focus on experiences of disease, lockdowns, hate crimes, nationalism and media coverage of the pandemic. The University of Leicester provides an ideal case study. The University is located in one of the cities worst affected by COVID-19. More importantly, it has an exceptionally diverse student population (with more than 50% of its students from BAME backgrounds) and boasts a vibrant international student community. 

20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, 26 May 2021

Dr Eki Omorogbe (Leicester Law School) gave a talk on occasion of a webinar organised by the African Union Commission to mark the twentieth Anniversary of the entry into force of its Constitutive Act.

The panel included talks by Ambassador Namira Ngem, Legal Counsel of the African Union and Dr Solomon Dersso, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The webinar was moderated by Makane Moise Mbengue, Professor of International Law and Director of the Department of International Law and International Organization at the University of Geneva.


Date and time: 26 May 2021 – 3.00pm – 6.00pm
Venue: online
Contact: eki.omorogbe@leicester.ac.uk

Assassination, Necropolitics and International Law: Global Inequality and Violence, 4 March 2021

This seminar will host three scholars and experts on violence in the international legal order: Professor Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and Director of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression Project; Professor Kevin Jon Heller, Professor of International Law and Security, University of Copenhagen; and Assistant Professor Noura Erakat, Department of Africana Studies, Rutgers University, USA.

The panel will discuss assassinations in the current international legal order, whether there is a growing number of illegal killings permitted by international law; the problem of remedies for assassinations; the role of geo-politics and necropolitics in thinking about the causes and motivations for assassinations, as well as how assassinations have been treated historically.

In line with the “thinking outside the box” approach of this lecture series, the panel will not be constrained in their thinking and discussion by traditional language and frameworks of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC).

Whether it is in the context of occupation, freedom of speech, international human rights, indigenous activism to prevent resource extraction, labour and union activism, journalism, questions concerning the role of assassinations in the international legal order, and the necropolitics and geopolitics attached to these, will be explored.


Event recording

Date and time: Thursday, 4 March 2021, 6.00pm - 7.30pm (GMT)
Venue: Online
Booking not required
Contact: Dr Paolo Vargiu.

How might MPs scrutinise the new UK-EU relationship?

Prof. Adam J. Cygan has published an Insight for the House of Commons Library addressing scrutiny issues around the UK-EU TCA. 

This Insight explores how MPs might scrutinise the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, taking into account that the UK is no longer bound by EU law and that the post-Brexit scrutiny needs different arrangements.

Feeding Global Inequality, 28 January 2021

The seminar will host three scholars: Michael Fakhri, (University of Oregon School of Law and UN Special Rapporteur on right to food), Nadia Lambek (University of Toronto), and Luis Eslava (Kent Law School).

The panel will discuss the forms of inequality caused by issues of food and resource distribution in the global international order. The right to adequate food and nourishment is a long-standing international human right and, in spite of its apparent specialism, it is closely connected to the right to life and dignity and the possibility to enjoy a wide range of fundamental rights. The unequal distribution and exploitation of resources, however, makes access to food a struggle for many people in different countries and regions, in spite of the constitutional rights, national laws and policies, and international programmes aimed at achieving a sustainable redistribution of resources. Our panellists will share their insights and their unique perspectives with the audience in the conversational setting that characterises this year's edition of the CELI Peace Talks.


Event recording

Date and time: Thursday, 28 January 2021, 6.00pm - 7.30pm (GMT)
Venue: Online
Contact: convenors, Dr Paolo Vargiu.

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