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Personal profile

Research Interests

My core research focuses on interpretation of the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. I am interested in all aspects of this right, including cultural dimensions and its application in the socio-economic sphere. I have recently completed a monograph entitled Dignity, Degrading Treatment and Torture in Human Rights Law: The Ends of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights

I have interests in the right to human rights education, and the concept of human dignity in human rights education. Recent and on-going projects consider human rights and human dignity as understood by student teachers and student nurses.

Academic / Professional qualifications

I studied Law and French Language (LLB Hons) at the University of Glasgow, International Politics (MA) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Human Rights and Democratisation (MA) at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights, Venice, Italy/Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. In 2010, I was awarded a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. 

Teaching Interests

I teach on the Public Law II and Human Rights Law classes on the LLB ordinary degree and coordinate Human Rights Law in Theory and Practice at Honours level. I am also course coordinator for Human Rights Protection in the UK on the LLM in Human Rights Law. 

Personal Statement

I teach human rights law on classes across the undergraduate LLB curriculum and at postgraduate level. My research interests lie in the field of European and international human rights law, supra-national judicial interpretation of human rights and non-judicial interpretation at the national level. I am particularly interested in the protective human rights obligations of states and the concept of human dignity in human rights law. I completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2010, where I held an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award. 

I lead the activities of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law, which is a focal point for staff and student engagement in human rights law research and teaching. I am Course Director for the PgCert/PgDip/LLM Human Rights Law. 

I am currently the Executive Secretary of the Association of Human Rights Institutes and a member of the Scottish Human Rights Commission's Research Advisory Group. 

I have been an Erasmus visiting teacher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and have spent time at the Institute for Human Rights and Critical Studies at KU Leuven in Belgium, as a Royal Society of Edinburgh/Caledonian Research Foundation European Visiting Fellow. 

I have an interest in curriculum design and assessment and feedback practices. I am undertaking a PG Diploma in Advanced Academic Studies. I also have in interest in public engagement and was a member of the University's 'Becoming an Engaging Researcher' module steering group in 2013 and 2014. I speak fluent French. 

Expertise & Capabilities

  • The prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment
  • European human rights law
  • Human dignity in human rights law
  • Interpretation of human rights, including by civil society
  • Human dignity and human rights education
  • Human rights protection in Scotland and the UK
  • Human rights-based approaches, including in healthcare


  • human rights
  • public law
  • human dignity
  • inhuman and degrading treatment
  • education
  • human rights obligations

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Projects 2010 2024

Research Output 2006 2019

human rights

Juan E Méndez: a figurehead of the fight against impunity for grave rights violations

Webster, E., 16 May 2019, The Faces of Human Rights. McCall-Smith, K., Wouters, J. & Gómez Isa, F. (eds.). Oxford, p. 269-276 8 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Activities 2015 2019

Beveridge's Five Giants Revisited from a Human Rights Perspective

Elaine Webster (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference