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About us

The Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) is an interdisciplinary research and teaching centre. It is a friendly community of scholars and visiting practitioners who have a shared focus on the real world challenges of putting human rights into practice and protecting human rights defenders at risk. A focus on human rights defending and defenders shapes all the Centre’s work.

The Centre is both genuinely interdisciplinary and committed to practice. The work of the Centre is international in breadth and draws on the University of York’s rich tradition of rigorous and engaged scholarship in the fields of development, post-war reconstruction, public policy, public health, disability rights, gender and women's rights, environmental issues, and refugee law. The Centre has particularly strong links to the Department of Politics and York Law School.

Key facts

Founded in 2007, the Centre:

  • offers a unique Protective Fellowship Scheme for human rights defenders at risk 
  • runs 2 masters programmes, a PhD programme and practitioner courses
  • conducts research on human rights defenders, human rights and development, refugee law, and transitional justice
  • hosts the Journal of Human Rights Practice (Oxford University Press), the only scholarly journal of its kind
  • organises academic conferences, practice-oriented workshops, and local human rights events.

Human Rights in York

York has a long tradition of social justice and human rights. Building on that, our Centre, together with a range of stakeholders, is very involved in the York as a Human Rights City project. A pilot for the project received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

There are several human rights related events in York each year, including Refugee Week, Holocaust Memorial Day, Festival of Ideas, and York Pride Celebration. Our Centre’s staff and students actively participate in many of these events as organisers, speakers, and/or volunteers.

For a listing of events in York, see the City of York's Festivals page.

Amnesty International (York city chapter)  City of Sanctuary  Refugee Action York  International Development Society (University of York)  Student Action for Refugees (STAR)  York Arc Light

Several human rights organisations in York will welcome new members or volunteers. Our staff and students have links to the following organisations: Amnesty International (York city chapter), Arc Light (a homeless shelter staffed by volunteers), City of Sanctuary campaign, and Refugee Action York (which runs a drop-in centre for refugees run by volunteers).

The University of York itself has several student organisations that work on human rights issues, host human rights events, and have links to our Centre: Amnesty International (University of York chapter), International Development Society, and Student Action for Refugees (STAR). All welcome postgraduate students.

For more information on how to get involved, see the YUSU Activities webpage.

Living and studying in York

We are housed in the new Research Centre for Social Sciences (ReCSS) in York Science Park on Heslington West campus.

The York campus is set in 200 acres of parkland, but is less than two miles from the city centre and easily accessible with frequent bus services.

York is one of the UK's most livable cities and a top tourist destination for its well-preserved medieval walled city. In a recent 'quality of life' survey, York placed 7 out of 145 cities. It has frequent, high-speed rail links to London (2 hours), Manchester (1 hour) and Edinburgh (2 hours).

Student life »

CAHR is involved in the following projects in the wider York community:

York Human Rights City Project

York City of Sanctuary