BHRC announces its panel and speakers for Bar Conference 2018

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The Bar Human Rights Committee will be hosting a panel discussion at the Annual Bar and Young Conference 2018 in London on 24 November 2018.

The panel “A Global Mission: Championing Women in the Fight for Human Rights” will be a dynamic discussion on how women in the legal professions represent and champion women, including journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders, themselves under attack for defending the rights of women The panel comes as we mark 100 years of women in the legal professions in the UK.

The panel includes Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, FRSA, Hon FRSE; Susi Bascon, Director of Peace Brigades International, and Tanya Barron OBE, CEO of PLAN International UK. The panel will be chaired by BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC.

More information about the Bar Conference can be found in the Conference October newsletter here.

Speaker Bios: 

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is one of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished lawyers.   She has practised at the Bar for 40 years in the field of criminal law and has conducted many leading cases. She chaired the British Council for 6 years and the UK Human Genetics Commission for 8 years. She has been a member of the House of Lords for 20 years, where she chairs the European Union Sub-Committee.  She is chair of Justice, the British arm of the International Commission of Jurists. She is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  She has also been honoured by the Governments of France and Italy.  She is the chair of the Booker Prize Foundation.  She has just stepped down as Principal of Mansfield college, Oxford.  She has become the new Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam university.

Justice Patricia Ajuma Mahmoud obtained her first degree in Law in 1979 from the University of Lagos in Nigeria. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in July 1980. Justice Mahmoud begun her career in public service in the Ministry of Justice Rivers State.  She was briefly at the Benue State Ministry of Justice in 1981 before moving to Kano State Ministry of Justice in 1982. She served as a prosecutor for many years and later moved to the Legal Drafting Department where she rose to become the Acting Director and Head of Department.  She was appointed as a judge of the High Court of Kano State in December 1991 and was Acting Chief Judge of Kano State 2015. Justice Mahmoud has throughout her career been active in various professional associations including International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), She served on the Executive Council of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJN) and also was a member of the Board of International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) between 2002 and 2005.   Justice Mahmoud was elevated to the Court of Appeal in September 2018.


Susi Bascon has completed an MBA and a Masters in Development Studies.  She worked for a year in Mexico as an international observer for PBI and learnt first hand about the threats and intimidation that Human Rights Defenders face as a result of their commitment to building more democratic societies. She has been the director of the UK section of Peace Brigades International since 1998 an organisation that currently provides live saving support and protection to over 800 Human Rights Defenders at risk around the world. In 2010 jointly with late patron and former high court judge Sir Henry Brooke founded the Alliance for Lawyers at risk a pro bono network that provides  international moral support and legal advice and expertise to lawyers and other human rights defenders in danger. She has been instrumental in leading and coordinating the global campaign that seeks to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the global community of Human Rights Defenders.

Tanya Barron OBE Starting out as a special needs teacher, and then a lecturer in Politics and Philosophy, in 1989 Tanya Barron joined VSO, becoming their Head of Programmes for Eastern Europe and the CIS.  After three years with the European Children’s Trust, in 1999 she was appointed as the first CEO of Home-Start International. During this period she was seconded to Brussels to manage a grant-making facility for the European Commission. From 1995-2002 Tanya was the Chair of the UNICEF NGO Committee for CEEC/CIS in Geneva. Tanya was appointed as International Director at Leonard Cheshire Disability in 2004.  She has co-authored various papers and edited two LCD books, Disability and Inclusive Development and Poverty and Disability.  She became Chief Executive of Plan UK in January 2013.  In 2003 Tanya was given the European Woman of Achievement (Humanitarian) award and in 2016 was made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for helping to provide safe education for girls internationally.

Kirsty Brimelow QC is the head of the Doughty Street’s International Human Rights Team and Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales. Kirsty was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2011 and a Bencher of Gray’s Inn in 2011. In 2012 Kirsty was elected Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales. She practises in international human rights and public law and criminal law cases with human rights law issues. Kirsty frequently advises and litigates before regional courts such as Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the ECOWAS court in Nigeria and the European Court of Human Rights. Kirsty is an experienced trainer. In 2017 -2018, Kirsty led trainings of Nigerian Bar Association barristers in the rights and protections of Internally Displaced People and Environmental Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Niger Delta. Previously she acted as a consultant to UNICEF in Nigeria in child rights.  Kirsty is an accredited mediator and since 2013 has facilitated dialogue between San José de Apartadó peace community and the government of Colombia. She has acted as an intervenor including in Guantanamo Bay cases before the United States Military Commission and on behalf of the Yazidis to the International Criminal Court. Kirsty is on the Advisory Boards of Global Legal Action Network, Peace Brigades International and Alliance for Lawyers at Risk. She is a legal writer and commentator for many publications including The Times, The Guardian, Westlaw, Lexis Nexis and the prestigious UK Supreme Court Yearbook. In 2018 she was appointed a Visiting Professor in International Human Rights and Criminal Law at Goldsmiths, University of London.


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