Working Groups


In order to strengthen the cooperation among the members of the School and give a new impetus to the work of the School working groups were created. Each working group will count approximately 15 members, coming from all walks of academic life within the School, i.e. both junior and senior researchers. Working groups may also include outsiders, as long as its members believe that this will be beneficial to the work of the group.


Organisation and facilities

Each working group will have a chair and a secretary who are responsible for the activities of the group.

The members of the working group are entirely free to use this organizational format as they see fit. They can use it to exchange ideas and information and to set up joint research activities. The members of the working group can meet physically or virtually as they see fit.

The School's website will support the activities of the working groups by offering a searchable database containing the research interests of all members and the possibility to use a forum to keep the members informed. The working groups will be able to make use of meeting facilities in Utrecht at no costs. In their activities the working groups will be assisted where necessary by the research officer.



The working groups have only one duty, i.e. to proide each year an overview of activities (a brief survey of past activities and future plans) to the Board.

The position of a working group on a certain issue does not represent the official position of the School of Human Rights Research; only the board of the School can issue such statements.


State of affairs

Currently, the following working groups are active:

1 International Criminal Law and Procedure

2 Human Rights and Sustainable Development

3 African Human Rights and Good Governance Network

4 The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Working Group

5 The European Convention Court of Human Rights Reflection Group

6 The Human Rights Committee Reflection Group



1. International Criminal Law and Procedure

Established in 2009, the Working Group International Criminal Justice and Human Rights (WG ICJ-HR) was co-chaired by Brianne McGonigle Leyh and Masha Fedorova. It meets several times a year for the dual purposes of enhancing academic exchange/peer review and building and sustaining a professional network. Activities of the Working Group include presenting working papers, debating relevant topics and sharing experiences from field-research trips and conferences.

All members of this working group, are free to propose a subject for discussion or presentation.

On 22 May 2014, “The SHRR Reseach day at T.M.C. Asser Institute, was organized in cooperation with the Working Group on ICL, "Exploring the Synergies between Norms and Institutions of International Criminal Law and Human Rights Law".

Chair: Olivier Ribbelink

Secretary: Catherine Harwood, Abel Knottnerus, Julie Fraser and Emma Irving




2. Human Rights and (Sustainable) Development

The Working Group on Human Rights and (Sustainable) Development seeks to explore the interaction between human rights and sustainable development conceptually and in practice.

Close cooperation has been established with the Law and Development Research Group of the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and the Flemish Research Network on Law and Development (Law & Dev).

Chair: Wouter Vandenhole, professor of human rights and holder of UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights, Law and Development Research Group, University of Antwerp




3. African Human Rights and Good Governance Network

The Africa Human Rights and Good Governance Network was initiated by Sharlene Ramllal a lecturer and PhD Candidate at the University of Rhodes in Grahamstown, South Africa together with Professor Tom Zwart. Ms. Ingrid Roestenburg has taken this over until 2013 and then it was taken over by Stacey Links, a PhD candidate from Utrecht University.

The main goal of the group is the creation of the Africa Human Rights and Good Governance network for which it is envisioned that it will serve a much needed function similar to that of the European Public Law Network.

The AWG meets once every quarter per year and carries out a number of activities. Among them a focus group on Zimbabwe and another that examines the link between the ICC and the AU.

Chair: Stacey Links




4. Economic Social and Cultural Rights Working Group

The ESCR Working Group was formed on 29 September 2010 following a Seminar on the Right to Health at Erasmus Rotterdam University. The main goal of the ESCR Group is the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights in academic and non academic settings.

To achieve that goal the ESCR has divided itself into a number of focus areas which include Justiciability, Norm Setting and Interpretation, Vulnerable and Marginalized Groups and Health, Food and Housing. On 21 November 2012 a Seminar took place at the T.M.C. Asser Institute, entitled "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Vehicles for Social Justice?", organized by Gustavo Arosemena a PhD Candidate from the University of Maastricht with the assistance of Shamiso Zinzombe. In 2013, Shamiso Zinzombe organized a seminar on 22 November 2013 in Rotterdam, “Austerity, Health and Human Rights”


Recently, the working group has launched a blog,

It aims to keep followers up-to-date on issues of economic, social and cultural rights. We are sharing relevant news stories, have featured posts on specific aspects of economic, social and cultural rights, and we have a section called ‘ESCR-101’, which is dedicated to explaining the legal framework and challenges for different rights and specific issues arising in relation to them.


Chair/secretary: Marie-Elske Gispen, Sarah-Jane Koulen and Marlies Hesselman.




5. European Convention Court of Human Rights Reflection Group

The School of Human Rights Research has taken the initiative to start a new working group within the framework of the school: the Reflection Group on the European Court of Human Rights.

The aim of this working group is to analyze and discuss developments in the functioning of the European Convention and Court of Human Rights .

The working group will study structural developments such as the work load of the Strasbourg Court, the methods of interpretation used by the Court, the methods of fact finding, the interaction between the Court and other human rights mechanisms within the Council of Europe and the implementation of ECHR-judgments. Also individual decisions or judgments of the Court may be discussed from different perspectives. Indeed, the forum of the Research School offers the opportunity to bring together researchers from different disciplines and with different views on the way the Strasbourg Court is dealing with cases.

Membership of the working group is open to both senior and junior researchers of the School. However, the aim of the working group is not only to bring together members from the academic community, but also practitioners from within the administration and the judiciary to reflect on the functioning of the Strasbourg Court. As many of you will be aware, the legitimacy of ECHR judgments is increasingly being challenged. Reports by political think tanks, newspaper articles by legal scholars and statements by government officials throughout Europe declare the Court to be an “expansionist” and “virtually unaccountable” supra-national bureaucracy.

Although several of these views are ill-based, they indicate the way in which an increasing number of policy-makers is perceiving the activities and position of the Strasbourg Court. All the more reason to arrange meetings in order mingle the academic human rights community with these policy-makers for an exchange of ideas and perceptions on the ECHR.

Chair: Jan-Peter Loof




6 Human Rights Committee Working Group of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research

The Working Group was set up at the start of 2011 to support Professor Cees Flinterman in his position on the Human Rights Committee. Its members come from a variety of career stages and academic and professional backgrounds. The intention is that the Working Group is a forum in which Professor Flinterman can discuss ideas and points of law raised during the sessions in Geneva. It is intended to provide Professor Flinterman with an opportunity to share his experiences on the Human Rights Committee on a confidential basis and invite comments and input from its members. The Working Group meets three times a year after the three sessions of the Human Rights Committee.

Chair: Tom Zwart

Secretary: Katharine Fortin