Alan Miller

Prof, Professor of Practice in Human Rights Law

  • United Kingdom

Personal profile

Personal Statement

I was appointed as Professor of Practice in Human Rights Law in August 2019. My role is twofold. Firstly, I bring to the university experience and expertise from national and international human rights practice and, secondly, I promote the university whilst engaged in such practice (further details are to be found in the Expertise and Capabilities section).

This invloves my teaching on the Human Rights LLM and helping build the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law into a national and international centre of excellence.

A current example of my national practice is having been appointed in 2019 by the First Minister as independent Co-Chair of the Natioal Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership. It has published a Report in March 2021 and its recommendations for a new and ambitious post-Brexit and post-Covid human rights framework for Scotland will be the basis of a Human Rights Bill to be enacted this parliamentary session. 

A current example of my international practice is leading a joint project of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Development Programme. It will research, analyse and support the development of good practice by member states in implementing their international human rights treaty obligations. This is part of responding to the call by the UN Secretary General to provide practical guidance on the Universal Periodic Review which is a flagship accountability mechanism of the UN and is linked to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

My motivation and ambition as Professor of Practice is to help equip students to become human rights practicioners and leaders.


Expertise & Capabilities

Although clearly inter-related I will briefly outline my national and then internatioal expertise and capabiities.


Since 2016 I have been appointed to various leading roles by the First Minister to advise on human rights leadership steps to be taken in and by Scotland following 20 years of devolution, the Brexit Referendum and the Covid-19 pandemic.

This culminated in my becoming the Independent Co-Chair of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership which published its Report in March 2021. Its highly ambitious and bold 30 recommendations have all been accepted by the Scottish Govrnment which will this parliamentary session introduce a Bill to establish a new and ambitious human rights framework for Scotland. It has been recognised as a world-leading exemplar of how to "build back better" from the pandemic.


Prior to the above I was unanimously elected in 2007 - and unanimously re-elected in 2013 - by the Scottish Parliament as the inaugural Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission to promote and protect human rights in Scotland and represent Scotland in the UN human rights system. The Commission popularised a human rights-based approach and advocated for the incorporation of UN human rights treaties. This contributed to an increasing internationalist outlook and confidence in human rights in Scotland which has led it the cusp of its biggest step yet in its human rights journey and establishing a world-leading new human rights framework.

Before being elected to the above role I had between 1985 and 2000 run a legal aid practice in Castlemilk, Glasgow and became elected as President of the Glasgow Bar Association in 1999. Between 2000 and 2008 I established and led a human rights consultancy which advised public authorities on the introduction of the Human Rights Act as well as advised in the emerging field of business and human rights in Scotland and different parts of the world.


I am an Independent Expert with the UN Developmemnt Programme (UNDP) Crisis Bureau and carry out human rights capacity-building missions around the world. Similarly, I am a member of the Roster of Experts of the internationally renowned Raoul Wallenberg Institute, University of Lund in Sweden which conducts similar capacity-building missions.

Between 2016-2019 I served as Special Envoy of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and between 2011-2016 held the elected position of Chair of the European Netwrok of National Human Rights Institutions.  Both roles provided much high-level experience of the European and UN human rights syatems.

Between 2000-2008 I was engaged in a number of projects. Thes included leading a joint UN/International Bar Association programme of post-conflict training of Iraqi judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers and I also worked as an independent expert with the Business Leadrs Initiative on Human Rights which was a global initiative led by Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and contributed to the establishment of the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights in 2011.

All of the above has provided me with a diversity of experiencer and expertise in human rights practice and leadership which I am keen to pass to the upcoming generation of human rights law students.

Teaching Interests

I teach on the the Human Rights LLM including the International Human Rights Law and Business and Human Rights modules.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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