School of Business and Law

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Professor Marie-Benedicte Dembour Professor of Law and Anthropology

€2.5 million win for ground-breaking human rights research

2.5 million grant for ground-breaking human rights research

Marie-Benedicte Dembour, Professor of Law and Anthropology at the Brighton Business School, has won a prestigious European Council (ERC) funding award worth €2.5 million.

The research project will shed light on the way evidence is collected, submitted and used by international human rights courts and aims to provide insight for the future benefit of victims of human rights abuses and human rights bodies.

The project, entitled DISSECT, will be conducted over 60 months and examine the rules and practices which govern the treatment of evidence in international human rights adjudications.

Marie-Benedicte, who has double training in law and in anthropology, said: “I’m very grateful to have received this grant and excited about embarking on what is vital and unprecedented research.”


Professor Marie-Benedicte Dembour Professor of Law and Anthropology“DISSECT is urgently needed by victims of human rights abuse who are seeking redress and don’t know exactly what evidence is required from them, as well as human rights bodies being at risk of losing their legitimacy if they cannot demonstrate they are acting logically, consistently and fairly.”

“With concerns about ‘truth decay’ in wider society, DISSECT is a timely study that will enable new insights about evidence, truth and power.”

In her abstract for the project, Marie-Benedicte writes: “Evidence is at the heart of adjudication, and adjudication at the heart of the international protection of human rights. Yet evidence in international human rights (IHR) adjudication has never been comprehensively studied.”

DISSECT will also investigate the political uses of the international human rights evidence system, including dismissals of politically sensitive complaints on the pretext they are not sufficiently evidenced by the victim.

Marie-Benedicte’s findings will identify ‘best’ and ‘worst’ practices and enable her to generate specific recommendations.

Marie-Benedicte said that she hopes the research will allow International human rights evidentiary regimes to be studied as a “social phenomenon” rather than as purely legal instruments.

Andrew Church, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Enterprise and Research, said: “I am very grateful especially to Marie-Benedicte and to many other colleagues for their immense work on this excellent bid.

“Marie-Benedicte’s inspirational insights into the challenges faced by international human rights courts were central to this outstanding success for the University.”

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Grant agreement No: 834044.


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Lisa Wood • April 2, 2019

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