Dr Andrew Fagan, a white man in grey suit is sitting on a stage with a slideshow behind him with images of the posters for the short-courses offered by the HRC 

Last week, March 22, the Human Rights Centre celebrated its 40th anniversary in Geneva in an event that welcomed back many alumni from the past decades. For more than 40 Human Rights Professionals this was an opportunity to reconnect and share stories from their time at the University of Essex and learn about what’s on the horizon for the HRC in the future.

a group a people pose together  at the HRC event in Geneva

Geneva was chosen because many of our former HRC students went on to follow successful careers in the UN offices and other organisations based in the city. Held in the birthplace of the philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the event included a talk by the current Director of the HRC, Dr Andrew Fagan, on the past, present, and planned future contributions of the HRC to the global Human Rights project. It was followed by a drinks and hors d’oeuvres reception.


 Happy to be Back

a group of people talking with each other, there is a table with drinks and food in the back

Michele Buteau from the class of ‘93 was already a trained lawyer from New York when she came to Essex but said the HRC helped her expand her geographical approach to cover a broader promotion of the protection of the rights of individuals. She stated that the event was a long time coming: “I’m very happy to be here, and I couldn’t think of a better place for this event to happen.”

From the class of ‘92, Mohammad Abu Harthieh is now Michele’s work colleague in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). He said the Human Rights Centre, since its establishment, has been doing a great job in supporting Human Rights defenders and lawyers to create a global community.

 Celebrating a Love Story

Magdalena Sepulveda, a woman wearing black dress and white man wearing a blue suit pose togueter

For Magdalena Sepulveda and her husband, from the class of ‘99, the Human Rights Centre has transformed their lives in more than one way. They both met in Essex when they were studying in the LLM and have been together ever since. “Not only we met there, but we have based our careers on what we studied”. She is now the Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).

Since its establishment in 1982/83, the HRC has built up a global reputation for its outstanding and continuing contributions to the Human Rights project. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary with a number of events and initiatives throughout the year. Stay tuned for more opportunities to stay connected.