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Projects and activities

The Transnational Law Institute carries out a diverse range of projects and activities.

These activities are organised into three areas of focus: transnational human rights, democracy and the rule of law (TLI-HRs); transnational environmental law (TLI-EL); and transnational health (TLI-Health).

Project outputs include research papers, reports, articles, books, and databases as well as documentaries, audio-visual pieces and web-based pieces in blogs and other digital media.

Our three areas of focus

TLI-HRs focuses on projects that aim to study transnational human rights, democracy and rule of law issues in any topic with particular interest in three main broader areas: race, gender and socioeconomic deprivation.

TLI-EL focuses on projects that aim to investigate the relationship between law and other forms of regulation, the protection and destruction of the environment.

TLI-HEALTH focuses on projects that aim to study transnational legal issues related to health in general, in particular how laws, regulations and human rights impact on and are impacted by these issues.

Transnational Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

Lead: Prof Octávio Ferraz. This research project investigates the ongoing cross-fertilization between constitutional and international protections of human rights, how the same rights are interpreted and applied differently in different legal systems and what difference they make in the lives of individuals across the globe. Collaborators: Prof Mila Veersteg (University of Virginia) and Neha Jain (University of Minnesota and European University Institute). Publications: Oxford Handbook of Comparative Human Rights (forthcoming); Amicus Curiae brief to the Colombian Constitutional Court on the decriminalization of abortion.

Lead: Prof Octávio Ferraz. A transnational study of the relationship between rights and race, in particular how black and other non-white communities suffer from a deficit of rights and a disproportionate share of state violence across the world and how law and rights may (or not) offer protection to these communities. This project’s initial aim is to conduct case studies in the UK, the US and Brazil on the theme of police treatment of black people and respect for their human rights. Collaborators: Patrick Granja (film maker, Brazil), MC Leo (rapper and activist, Brazil), Carlos Alexandre Teixeira da Silva (Capoeira Master and film producer, Brazil) Publications and outputs: A Troco de Que? (For What Purpose?) – documentary on police killings in shanty-towns in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; ‘Disproportionate’ – research paper assessing the proportionality of state responses to criminality in poor communities in Brazil and in comparative perspective (work in progress)

Lead: Prof Octávio Ferraz. A transnational study of the relationship between rights and gender, in particular how women and LGBTQ people suffer from a deficit of rights and a lack of state protection against violence across the world and how law and rights may (or not) offer protection to these communities. This project has already led to a transnational study of the laws and jurisprudence on decriminalisation of abortion and the submission of an amicus curiae petition to the Constitutional Court of Colombia to support a landmark case on the decriminalisation of abortion in that country. (for details see the Transnational Legal Clinic below). Publication: Research Paper ‘Abortion Decriminalization across the World’, prepared in collaboration with students participating in the Transnational Legal Clinic in 2020-21.

Lead: Prof Parosha Chandran. A transnational research project surveying the adoption in legislation and court decisions of the ‘non-punishment’ principle of the international law of modern slavery. This project started in the wake of the landmark decision of the European Court of Human Rights in V.C.L. and A.N. v United Kingdom, in which Prof Chandran represented one of the victims. Publications: research paper on how the principle of ‘non-punishment’ is implemented in selected countries (work in progress)

Lead: Prof Octávio Ferraz. A transnational study of the relationship between rights, poverty and inequality, focusing on how law in general and rights in particular can be both an instrument to combat poverty and diminish inequality but also to hinder progress or even make things worse. The project has started with a grant from the British Council Newton Fund and the organisation of an international workshop in Brasilia in 2018 bringing together 30 early career academics based in Brazil and the UK to discuss work in progress. Collaborator: Jeff King (UCL) Publications: report on ‘The Laws of Inequality’ surveying how law has helped and hindered equality in selected countries (work in progress)

Lead: Dr Emily Barritt and Dr Carmen Pavel. This collaborative project unpicks the policy choices made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, analysing the way power has been used and abused by governments across the globe. The aim of the project is to draft a set of principles to help guide how governments should respond to emergencies like pandemics. Collaborators: Centre for the Study of Governance and Society (King’s College London) Publications: blog piece for the Lex Atlas and research paper (work in progress)

LLM related modules: Transnational Human Rights Law in Transnational and International Perspective; Law and Practise of Modern Slavery; Authoritarianism, Populism and the Law; The Law and Practice of the United Nations: Edging towards Transnational Constitutionalism?; International Refugee Law; Business and Human Rights; Transnational & International Criminal Law; Transnational Human Rights Litigation

Transnational Environmental Law (TLI-EL)

Lead: Dr Emily Barritt. In 2018 a group of young Colombians won an history legal victory in the Supreme Court of Justice. The subsequent ruling not only compelled the Colombian government to bring deforestation of the Amazon to net zero by 2020, but also stated that the court would ‘recognise the Colombian Amazon as an entity, subject of rights,’ granting the rainforest legal rights as if it were a human. This collaborative project uses interviews with the claimants and extracts from the judgement to create a 360 degree film telling the story of how the Colombian Amazon was given a legal personality. Collaborators: Mark Knightly (theatre maker and artistic director of Crowded Room theatre company) Publications: 360 degree film on the rights of nature

Lead: Dr Emily Barritt. Environmental law across the globe is increasingly considering the spiritual dimensions of humanity’s relationship with the environment. From the recognition of the spiritual aspects of environmental protection to the bestowal of rights on sacred, natural sights, the mystic is now an important feature of many innovations in environmental law. The project has two key features. The first is a theoretical account of what spirituality is in the context of environmental law. The second part showcases and unpacks transnational examples where spiritual considerations have shaped the formation of the law, with reference to examples where the belief systems of Indigenous cultures has helped to develop these legal innovations. Publications: research paper (work in progress)

Leads: Dr Emily Barritt and Prof. Octávio Ferraz. This project surveys and analyses environmental litigation, a fast-growing phenomenon, across the world and with a particular focus on countries of the so-called "global south". Collaborators: Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE)

Lead: Prof. Octávio Ferraz. This project explores the transnational legal protection of rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and its relationship with environmental preservation and climate change reduction. Collaborators: Clean Trade, Prof. Leif Wenar (Stanford) and Jeremy Gilbert (Roehampton, UK).

LLM related modules: Global Law of Climate Change; Oceans Governance

Transnational Health (TLI-HEALTH)

Leads: Prof Octávio Ferraz and Prof Jeff King (UCL). A collaboration between the TLI, UCL, the Max Planck Institute and a major network of 60 country teams across the world, exploring legal responses to the coronavirus pandemic in 60 countries. Discover more on the LAC19 website, which includes country profile pages, blogs, analytical insights and datasets. The LAC19 has generous financial support from the AHRC. Collaborators: Prof Jeff King (UCL) and Pedro Vilarreal (Max Planck Institute) Publications: Oxford Compendium on National Legal Responses to Covid-19, published open access here

Lead: Prof Octávio Ferraz. A transnational study of the role of the internationally recognised right to health in improving population health across the world, in particular whether and how law and litigation can make a positive impact. This project includes research, publications and events on the right to health. Workshops have been held in São Paulo in partnership with the University of São Paulo, in Washington in collaboration with Georgetown University and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, and at King’s in collaboration with the School of Global Health and Social Medicine. This project has received support from a King’s Together Grant. Publications: Special section of Health and Human Rights (Harvard School of Public Health) on Health Litigation in Latin America; The right to health in the new Chilean Constitution, forthcoming (in collaboration with Jude Bueno de Mesquita, Essex University).

LLM related modules: Transnational Human Rights Law in Transnational and International Perspective

Related Event: Pandemics and Inequality: the ethical, legal and policy challenges of tackling COVID-19 in an unequal world 2020-21

Lex-Atlas

Lex-Atlas

Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 (LAC19): A global academic project tracking and analysing worldwide legal…

Transnational Legal Clinic

The Transnational Legal Clinic (TLC) is a legal clinic working in collaboration with civil society organisations and actors from across the world, to produce campaigns and litigation aimed at social transformation. The Clinic is made up of staff and students from the TLI, enabling students the chance to apply their learning and develop skills in a real world context. The Clinic’s inaugural project was an Amicus Curiae brief presented to the Constitutional Court of Colombia in a case challenging the criminalization of abortion filed by fourteen Colombian citizens with the backing of the leading women rights’ NGO La Mesa. The project was conducted with the participation of 19 LLM students and was reported in the main Colombian daily, El Tiempo. The most recent project, currently underway, is on the protection of the human rights of people in poor communities against police violence and the role of civil society. Students and staff interested in getting involved should contact Dr Octavio Ferraz.

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Critical Transnational Justice Network

The Network's main goal is to place the importance of a Global South academic and activist research perspective—and then transcend the paradigm of Global South—in order to critically foster transitional justice mechanisms and to promote local conceptions of justice. We aim to do this taking into account the intersections of the field with gender rights; race and ethnicity; critical criminology and restorative justice; and development and environment.

TLI feature global south