Welcome to Volume 9, Issue 1, of the University of Leeds Human Rights Journal.
Given the circumstances of this year, 2020/2021 has been unique yet incredibly successful for the Journal. Having been part of the Journal throughout my university experience, this has been a key aspect of my time at Leeds. Looking at the continuous success and expansion of the Journal during the past few years, I am confident of the Journal’s potential over the coming years. Despite the new obstacles encountered, the Editorial Team consisting of our Managing Editors, Online Editor, Marketing Officer, Peer Reviewers, Steering Committee and Graphic Designer have done well to make this project come to fruition.
Working remotely with my Editorial Team this year has been an extremely challenging yet productive experience. The commitment of the team and the drive to reach our goals has contributed to the quality of the Journal this year. At our first editorial team meeting we agreed that we shared the vision of increasing the reach, funding, and quality of the Journal.
Our outreach team, Rachel, Zahra and Niamh, have done a remarkable job of increasing engagement with the Journal through expanding our presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and through sending marketing emails to reach as many students as possible. Our Managing Editor responsible for the Journal’s finance, Henna, has successfully secured funding from the Centre of Ethnicity and Racism Studies, the Faculty of Social Sciences, and the Laidlaw Foundation which greatly contributes to the activities of the Journal. Our Managing Editor responsible for corresponding with the wider team, Poppy, has been fantastic in communicating with our Peer Reviewers and our newly formed Steering Committee, ensuring that they have the full opportunity to contribute to this year’s publication as well as improving the broader activities of the Journal.
The peer review process this year was enhanced through a more competitive recruitment process, a bigger team, and additional training resources made available to the Peer Reviewers, which I believe has led to a higher standard of work in the ninth volume. We also have Eve Jones join us in the Peer Review team for a second term, bringing in her experience to provide us with her leadership and valuable feedback. The Editorial Team truly appreciates the work done by the Peer Reviewers for their meticulous attention to detail and for their efforts in promoting the Journal.
A new feature to the Journal this year is the establishment of the Steering Committee. The Editorial Team believes that this will provide input in improving the quality of the Journal and equally assist in the continuity in the Journal’s management as the Editorial Board is renewed annually. Our administrative members, Tess Hornsby Smith and Ed Clarke, have assisted us with handling our communications within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures. While our academic members, Dr Ipek Demir, Dr Adrian Gallagher and Dr Ilias Trispiotis, gave their approval for all the articles that have been published and picked the winning essay for the HRJ Essay Prize.
The scholarship displayed in the publication this year has been of the highest quality starting with the winning piece by Georgia Mackay, which was agreed to be the best piece by the Steering Committee. The following creative piece by Aisha Habib Ahmad titled ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ was a personal favourite that captures the theme of Transition. For indeed, no matter how much has changed I have always felt that I have been ‘denied my cup of tea’.
This year the Journal was successful in hosting six events, achieving over 200 attendees to some events, with follow up blog posts by members of the Editorial Team. The first event on Decolonising Human Rights was a personal goal of mine, and I am thankful to the faculty at the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies for collaborating with us to make the event a huge success. That event was followed by the Uyghur Human Rights Crisis and The Kashmir Issue webinars which highlighted the plight of Muslims living under the governments of the two most populous countries. On Human Rights Day, we collaborated with European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, with Emily Faux from the ECR2P soc hosting the event, to discuss the viability of the R2P beyond the West. Our following collaboration was with Sunny Dhillon from Skills@Library, who delivered a session to train the Editorial Team, Peer Reviewers and contributors on critical writing and research skills. Lastly, on International Women’s Day, we hosted the Women in Focus event with an inter-disciplinary panel of speakers from POLIS and Geography. Each of these events brought insight to the reality of human rights and provided a ground for discussion in which the audiences actively contributed.
Furthermore, a main feature of the Journal is our blog which has been adeptly managed by our Online Editor, Zahra, complemented by the social media promotion by our Digital Marketing Officer, Rachel. Some of my personal favourites were by Lawrence Wilde on immigration policy and Aksa Arshad’s on Islamophobia, both of which problematises the liberal perspective of human rights by highlighting its exclusion of immigrant and minorities living in the West. I hope the Journal’s blog continues to be a place that provides a voice to marginalised communities and safe space to discuss and promote human rights.
I am pleased of how far the Journal has come these last three years and I am confident of its continued success with the Steering Committee and renewed Editorial Team for the next year.