Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Louisa Riches

The purpose and function of the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review for states in crisis.

Increasingly, human rights and the rhetoric of security is ubiquitous; civil unrest, uprisings, protest and revolution are all too often attributed to a state’s failure to observe and protect individual rights and freedoms. In this climate the role of human rights monitoring and reporting mechanisms that are resource intensive but often yield little in terms of enforcement for human rights violations or failings comes under scrutiny. As such a mechanism, the purpose of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for states with deep-seated issues as an effective mechanism in addressing and dealing with an on-going state of crisis is questionable.

Born out of concern that UN human rights bodies focused on only a few states, the UPR was conceived as a means to broaden the human rights conversation as a global undertaking despite human rights being, primarily, an internal matter for each member state in accordance with its sovereignty. The UPR is state focused. This state-centric character is not unique to the UPR, it pervades the charter and treaty based human rights protection, reporting and monitoring mechanisms of the UN. It does not directly take into account trans-border and transnational perils fuelling state instability and insecurity. For this reason, and others, the UPR faces significant, potentially fatal, challenges to its stated quest to promote the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of all human rights; for those states experiencing crisis the state-centric nature of the UPR may not be the appropriate forum, or an effective mechanism via which to discuss, address and determine action with regard to human rights commitments and obligations.


I am a senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds Beckett University from September 2014) and a solicitor (non-practising).

I graduated from my first degree in 1995 having studied English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds.  I was a founding partner of Unlimited Theatre, a Leeds based multiple award winning company, and continue to be involved with Unlimited in my capacity as the Chair of its board of trustees. I embarked upon a career change at the start of the millennium, training as a solicitor at Walker Morris in Leeds and practising as an employment lawyer before joining Leeds Met Law School in 2008.

I completed an LLM in International Law at the University of Leeds with distinction in 2012. I teach a range of subjects including international human rights, employment law, public law, english legal system, method and skills. I am an external examiner for the University of Lincoln.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

To further my academic career and further develop my research and writing skills.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

This is a complex area of law that intersects with politics and the social sciences. The challenges at the heart of this area of study stimulate heated debate that cuts across a number of different fields and research interests. This in turn offers diversity in terms of future professional and personal development and partnerships.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

To continue to pursue my academic career with a greater focus on research activity.

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