At the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), we adopt interdisciplinary, critical and socio-legal approaches to rethink state and other forms of power.

International human rights law relies on the state as the main duty-bearer and enforcer of its obligations. At CAHR, we unearth the values, assumptions and material factors that shape the interests and actions of various state actors and power holders at local, national, regional and international levels. We also examine the discrete role of non-state actors in the realisation of human rights. 

Our focus is on how human rights are created, shaped and transformed by local state and non-state actors, rather than simply interpreted by centralised state organs such as parliaments or courts. 

CAHR championed the 2017 declaration of York as the UK’s first Human Rights City. Working with local residents and community groups, we developed indicators to measure York's journey as a Human Rights City.

We explore how human rights law and discourse both constrain and enable the state’s coercive and penal powers, and what implications this has for the local and global society.

Through normative and collaborative research, we aim to identify and examine alternative avenues of accountability for state abuses that do not reify and perpetuate those very same powers that are frequently sources of violence and domination.

Publication highlights

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'Human Rights as Penal Drivers Across the World' by Mattia Pinto in The Transformation of Criminal Jurisdiction: Extraterritoriality and Enforcement.

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'Coercive Human Rights and the Forgotten History of the Council of Europe's Report on Decriminalisation' by Mattia Pinto in The Modern Law Review.

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York Human Rights City Network Indicator Report 2022, No. 7.