Professor Francesca Klug

Human Rights at the LSE

Professor Francesca Klug

…. justice (was) served up with the dinner.


Our family story, and that of many others around us who, unlike us, had survived the Holocaust, impressed on me growing up, that things can change,  that nothing is certain and definite, and that you have to inculcate a sense of justice and a sense of fairness to stop the world turning against you and others.”   Both my parents impressed that on me in different ways.

Francesca Klug is a Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE, based in the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, and Director of the Human Rights Futures Project.  She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the LSE’s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion.

The concept of justice was quite strong in my family,  I can’t claim any special insight on my part.  I was brought up in a family where justice served up with the dinner.

All 4 of my grandparents were refugee migrants, and we were brought up very consciously to know that if they hand’t left  the various Eastern European and Russian homelands when they did, they almost certainly would not have survived. Their extended families did not survive except one cousin.Professor Klug researcher at LSE Human Rightss

My father thought Britain was the promised land, he felt so lucky to be here.   There was no sense of entitlement.  He felt lucky to be alive, and to live in this country.

“For me it means recognizing the imbalance of power based on gender and being keen to address that  through the rights of women.”

My most surprising event  when I was called into Jack Straw’s office in 1997, and shown the Human Rights Bill before it was published.   I’d been working closely with Jack Straw and his advisers, providing written papers on how the UK might incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into our law without overturning parliamentary sovereignty (I believe one of these is in the Cabinet Papers on the HRA).
There were several of us.   I was based at Kings College, employed at the Human Rights Incorporation Project to provide research on models for incorporating human rights standards into UK law.

When I was called in I recognized  almost all of what I’’d proposed should be in the human rights bill regarding the model for incorporating human rights standards into our law.   The rights were from the ECHR, as expected but  I was stunned that so much of the model I had proposed had been used., I didn’t expect that.

Different for Women
An instance when I  felt treated differently as a woman.   Like lots of women I have become aware that if you do not promote yourself,  there are men  who will take credit for aspects of your work or overlook your contribution even when they know what it  has been. But in the end of the day all important developments  are collaborative and no one person should take credit for developments that take decades to materialise. I came of age in a more collective era when we weren’t so keen to put our names on publications or claim authorship for new policies anyway.    Things are changing again now. These days –given its unpopularity with the tabloids and many senior politicians – most people seem to want to distance themselves from the Human Rights Act rather than lay claim to it!

Francesca’s Advice
Don’t do what I did. Get a proper career.  I didn’t get a proper career.  I have never had a proper career.  I tell them all the time to get one. They don’t listen to me.”

However, she has a point: by not moving through the traditional routes, she was not seen to have the certification and recognition that is assumed by many prominent male lawyers.  In fact: the perception is, not only that the drafting of the Human Rights Act was by prominent lawyers, but that she had no part, or only a minimal one.

Get properly qualified that’s one thing you’ve honed that you can present to the world. Get the qualifications that you need to show that you are legitimately at the table.

Claim the recognition.   You won’t be taken seriously.  They won’t give it to you, and the guys are claiming it all the time for themselves and each other.






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