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Professor Chris Hilson

Chris Hilson has been researching the role of targets in climate change law and policy.

This has led to an article in the Journal of Environmental Law ('Hitting the Target? Analysing the Use of Targets in Climate Law') and, from there, to his involvement in the COP 26 Universities Group working group on Net Zero, where he has been co-drafting a briefing note for policymakers in advance of the key Glasgow 2021 climate summit.

As Director of the Reading Centre for Climate and Justice, he has presented on climate justice at a 'soap summit' run by BAFTA, advising TV screenwriters, producers and directors how they might incorporate climate justice elements into their storylines.

More recently, he worked with Wokingham Borough Council to help set up a Schools Climate Conference for the area, and has been interviewed by school students in Dubai about the climate implications of the coronavirus outbreak.

Find out more about Professor Chris Hilson

Professor Michael Schmitt

Mike Schmitt has been active with other members of the international law community in researching the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic is being maliciously exploited by states and nonstate actors in cyberspace.

In April 2020, he presented on the international law implications of the pandemic in cyberspace during a virtual global workshop sponsored by the Cyber Peace Institute, where he sits on the Advisory Board. The following month, he was one of over 30 international leading international law scholars and practitioners who issued the "Oxford Statement on the International Law Protections against Cyber Operations Targeting the Health Care Sector".

In May, he joined former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Nobel Prize recipients Desmond Tutu and Mohamed ElBaradei, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, Microsoft President Brad Smith, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo and 35 other global leaders in calling on all governments to work together to stop cyber attacks hampering hospitals and international organizations fighting COVID-19.

In collaboration with Professor Marko Milanovic from the University of Nottingham, he co-authored a major study on 'Cyber "Attacks" and Cyber (Mis)information Operations during a Pandemic'. The study examines how hostile cyber operations during a health crisis can violate the international law rules requiring respect for the sovereignty of other states, prohibiting intervention and the use of force in international relations, and obligating states to exercise due diligence in ensuring their territory is not used as the base for such cyber operations.

Additionally, in the article, Mike and Professor Milanovic take a deep dive into COVID-19 related human rights rules that bar certain cyber operations placing individuals at risk, as well as the obligation of governments to protect those on its territory from such operations. Their work is forthcoming in a special edition of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, a prominent American law journal.

Find out more about Professor Michael Schmitt

Professor Rosa Freedman

The vast majority of the over 100,000 United Nations (UN) uniformed peacekeeping personnel perform their jobs with courage, dedication and professionalism. Yet those who commit sexual offences bring shame on the entire UN system and betray the trust of those that they have been sent to protect.

There is a need for system-wide reform to ensure that such abuses cannot again occur with widespread impunity. Despite recent measures announced by the new UN Secretary-General, attempts to reform the system have been piecemeal and have not addressed a complex problem that requires nuanced and targeted responses.

While there is general agreement at the UN, in member states, and from civil society, about what needs to be done to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, very few practical solutions have been proposed let alone implemented. A key problem is that the current laws, policies and practices to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse operate across different scales, including at the international level, at the UN level, at the local level where the peacekeeping operation is being carried out, and within the countries that contribute troops to peacekeeping operations. As a result, very few effective solutions have been designed that can address the causes and consequences of peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse.

With Sarah Blakemore (CEO of Keeping Children Safe), Rosa Freedman is jointly running the 'Safeguarding Children in Peacekeeping Project' that is conducting research to tackle these issues and to produce a robust, evidence-based solution that can be adapted to be implemented in all peacekeeping entities in a context-specific manner.

The project started in 2016 and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, and has been undertaken together with the UN and the UK Department for International Development. As a result of this work and her expertise in this field, the UN appointed Rosa as a member of the Secretary-General's Civil Society Advisory Board on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, and as a specialist adviser on safeguarding to the UK Government's International Development Select Committee.

Find out more about the Safeguarding Children in Peacekeeping project,. Further information, including articles, project reports and videos, can be found in the project resources section.

Find out more about Professor Rosa Freedman


Professor Chris Newdick

Chris Newdick has worked with the NHS for many years to improve health care priority setting systems.

When demand for care exceeds the resources available to treat us all, what to do? How can we make rationing fair? He is a member of the Thames Valley Priorities Committee, which determines which drugs and treatments to recommend to the local NHS. He also formulated its Ethical Framework to promote fairness and consistency in decision-making. This works well because, within fixed budgets, decisions to invest in some treatments limit capacity to respond to others. So we need a reasonable system for making these hard choices.

Find out more about Professor Chris Newdick


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