Associate Fellow, Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank
Senior Associate, Governance, Human Rights and Diplomacy, Oxford Information Labs
Associate, Oxford Human Rights Hub
Advisory Board member, Innovethic
Course Director and Advisory Board member, Centre for Political and Diplomatic Studies
Focus and expertise
I am a human rights and public international lawyer and former British diplomat with over 20 years’ experience of law and diplomacy, now focusing on academia, advocacy and consulting.
My primary interest is in the application of human rights to the digital environment. I am concentrating on this area because I’m gravely concerned that digital developments are riding roughshod over human rights, carefully developed since 1945.
Initially I focused on human rights as a framework that will harness the benefits of digital technology while avoiding grave erosion to our democratic systems. See my 2019 Chatham House paper “Online Disinformation and Political Discourse: Applying a Human Rights Framework“.
I am now researching various areas in which human rights law needs to be deployed more fully in order to ensure that technology develops for the benefit, rather than the detriment, of humankind.
I am available for consultancy, speaking engagements and academic projects in these and related fields.
I have extensive experience of human rights negotiation, litigation, implementation and strategy as well as research. I focused on human rights law during my 13 years as a lawyer and diplomat with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including during 7 years in multilateral postings, first as Legal Adviser to the UK Mission in Geneva and then as Deputy Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. For example, while in Geneva I led for the UK, and eventually the EU, on the negotiations that led to the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In Strasbourg, I was a key member of the UK’s Council of Europe Presidency team and was in the UK seat for negotiation of the Brighton Declaration that led to adoption of Protocols 15 and 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights. While in London, I focused on counter-terrorism as well as a range of areas of public international law and related domestic law (including international humanitarian law, immunities, treaty law, international organisations law, aviation, law applicable to the UK Overseas Territories).
At the University of Oxford over the last 5 years, as Director of the Diplomatic Studies Programme (Foreign Service Programme), I had the privilege of using and refining my legal and diplomatic experience in leading, managing and teaching on a brilliant, wide-ranging postgraduate programme, helping to develop some of the finest minds of the next generation while in parallel developing my own broader perspectives and research.
A UK-qualified lawyer, I began my career as a trainee and then litigation solicitor with international law firm Norton Rose, and spent several months as a Judicial Assistant at the UK Court of Appeal where I had the privilege to work for two inspiring lawyers, Lord Bingham who at that time was Lord Chief Justice, and Lady Justice Butler Sloss who at that time was President of the Family Division and the first ever female judge to sit the Court of Appeal.
Nationalities British, Irish