Each island community is unique, but small island jurisdictions face a range of common challenges, both internal and external related to human rights with limited capacity to address those challenges. Despite the challenges of capacity, small jurisdictions are sometimes more nimble than larger states and so can act as leaders in global human rights developments. Island Rights Initiative addresses human rights in the context of small islands from 2 different perspectives:
Island communities are not isolated from global phenomena and often find themselves on the frontline of some of the biggest human rights challenges of our time. For small communities with limited diversification, some issues are existential threats for their societies. Their ability to innovate and to represent their interests on the international stage is crucial to their sustainability and their ability to protect the fundamental rights of their people and effectively achieve targets under a range of SDGs.
Many small islands find themselves at the sharp end of the impact of climate change with rising sea levels and natural disasters posing a serious threat to the human rights of their people. Small islands are often the front line on dangerous migration routes and find themselves trying to manage complex human rights issues related to migrants’ rights with limited resources. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to engage internationally on global human rights issues that affect them.
Some small island economies are built on international businesses like international finance and shipping that have global human rights impacts. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to adapt to changing global standards in human rights and ensure that their economies drive human rights compliant business.
Global challenges like combating terrorist financing, human trafficking and tackling money-laundering are issues that small islands, particularly those with significant financial centres, need to be able to address. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to ensure that their international cooperation on such issues is effective and human rights compliant.
Human rights law is relevant to many areas of law and policy affecting our lives every day like access to healthcare and education, child protection, gender equality, the rights of older people and people with disabilities, public accountability, a healthy environment, and civil and criminal proceedings. SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions provides a foundation for effective implementation of many of the other SDGs. Small communities often face challenges of capacity for implementation of international human rights standards. As lawyers and policy makers need to cover a huge range of issues, it can be difficult to stay on top of developments in all areas.
Good governance is the key to real and effective protection of human rights. The models for accountability, oversight and access to justice that work in larger jurisdictions may be impractical in a small island context. Island Rights Initiative can help islands develop best practice in good governance and accountability that is tailored to their circumstances.
Small administrations can struggle to meet the stringent reporting requirements of international human rights law or to implement human rights standards in a way that makes sense in a smaller setting. Island Rights Initiative can provide support for small island administrations and communities to meet international human rights standards at home.
For civil society, lawyers or individuals concerned about their human rights, it can often be challenging to raise concerns effectively in a small community. There can be difficulties in reaching out to challenge human rights violations in national, regional and international fora. Island Rights Initiative can provide assistance and guidance to people and organisations seeking to address human rights issues in small islands.
Susie Alegre is an international human rights lawyer with 20 years’ experience working on issues related to human rights, the rule of law and accountability. She has worked for international NGOs like Amnesty International and for international organisations including the EU, Council of Europe, UN and OSCE. Her work includes comprehensive research and reporting on human rights, high-level stakeholder engagement and advocacy as well as strategic advice and programme design and management.
Susie’s outlook is international and she speaks French and Spanish fluently as well as her native English. Her passion for the issues facing small islands stems from her experience growing up in the Isle of Man where she is currently appointed as Interception of Communications Commissioner. Susie founded the Island Rights Initiative to bring together her knowledge of international frameworks for human rights and accountability with her insights as an islander to support island communities around the world.
Pakeeza Rasheed is a barrister & solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. She was born in Fiji and continues to have deep ties to her community in the country. Her interest in island rights is deeply rooted in her identity as a Fijian Indian. She has approximately 8 years’ experience as a lawyer and adviser to the New Zealand government and has provided advice on a broad range of complex issues in the areas of justice, criminal law, legislative reform, commercial contracts, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, economic policy and international financial transactions. She has provided advice to the New Zealand Ministry of Justice, the New Zealand Department of Corrections, The New Zealand Treasury and the Overseas Investment Office.
Pakeeza has a strong passion for human rights issues and has spent time working within the refugee sector where she has gained knowledge and experience in international refugee law and refugee rights. She currently leads a rights-based NGO for refugees and engages regularly in strategic and financial planning, research, advocacy, community development and high-level stakeholder engagement. She also has experience as a board director and currently sits on several different boards.
Sareta Ashraph comes from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. A barrister specialised in international criminal and humanitarian law, Sareta served as the Chief Analyst on the Commission of Inquiry on Syria (2012-2016) and the Commission of Inquiry on Libya (2011-12). She has also worked as a Legal Adviser at the International Criminal Court (2010-2011) and was Counsel before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2003-2009). She was recently Stanford Law School’s Global Practitioner-in-Residence and in 2015 was a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. Sareta is a member of Garden Court Chambers in London, and is called to the Bar of England and Wales, as well as the Bar of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Angelique is a Barrister (Lincoln’s Inn, 2013) and Attorney-at-Law (Seychelles, 2015) from the Seychelles. She practised in private sector for three years in a broad mixed practice primarily in litigation and advisory work. She is also a qualified civil and commercial mediator. She recently completed an LLM Environmental Law at the Queen Mary, University of London. Her specialism is ocean and climate change and has carried out extensive research on the the legal implications for the loss of marine natural resources as a result of climate change, the threat of land-based source marine pollution to the debt-for-adaptation swap and environment and human rights. Angelique was also the legal advisor to the Chagossian community in Seychelles as they sought legal avenues to return to their home island in Diego Garcia. She has also carried out extensive research on piracy in the Indian Ocean and human rights.
In 2014, she co-founded a youth-led NGO that mobilises SIDS youth to promote and advance sustainable development through youth-led projects. To date, the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub – Seychelles has successfully led a campaign to ban plastic bags in the Seychelles with the ban coming into force in July 2017. She was part of the team contributing to the content of the legislation on the ban of plastic bags. In recognition of her work in promoting environmental sustainability she was awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders Award 2016.
Desiree is a self employed practising barrister in England and Wales, and Bencher of the Honourable Society of Inner Temple. She was born in British Guyana and was educated in St Lucia, Barbados, the Bahamas and England. Desiree holds a first degree from the University of the West Indies. She continues to have deep ties with the Caribbean and has been called to the Bar in St Lucia with the ability to therefore practice in most Caribbean countries. Desiree regularly advises and appears in the appellate court of the Caribbean. In 2016, Desiree advised and assisted the Ministry of National Security and the Office of the Attorney General of the Bahamas with the implementation of the Bahamas Office of the Public Defender. Between 2006 and 2014, Desiree was the legal adviser to the High Commission for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in England. Desiree regularly advises in relation to Caribbean matters with cross jurisdictional issues such as state immunity and conflict of laws. In addition, Desiree has a privy council practice with an emphasis on administrative law and human rights. Desiree has a strong track record of working with stakeholders to achieve compliance with Equity issues and also has experience as a board director and currently sits on a board.
Dr Leonardo J Raznovich is a barrister in independent practice and Vice Chair of the LGBT Committee of the International Bar Association. Leonardo was admitted as a lawyer in Argentina in 1995 and was also called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2010. As a multijurisdictional lawyer, Leonardo has experience in litigation and international arbitration, in the areas of public and private law disputes across civil and common law jurisdictions. Leonardo is also an experienced mediator, having received his accreditation in 2006.
Leonardo has significant experience of small island jurisdictions through his work in the Cayman Islands and wider Caribbean region. Between 2013 and 2015, Leonardo was a lecturer at the Cayman Islands Law School and has been Visiting Senior Researcher Fellow of Canterbury Christ Church University at the INCISE through which he organized the “Queering Paradigms” Conference in the Cayman Islands in 2015 – the first of its kind in the region. He works tirelessly on LGBTI rights, focusing principally on the Cayman Islands and other British Overseas Territories and has written widely on the topic as well as appearing as an expert in the media. Leonardo is now leading a research project in the Caribbean that involves the ILANUD and the International Bar Association, the aim of which is to articulate the legal mechanisms to free the American continent of its sodomy laws.
Dr Nasia Hadjigeorgiou holds an LLB with First Class Honours from University College London (2006-2009), an LLM from the University of Cambridge (2009-2010) and a PhD from King’s College London (2011-2015). A development of her PhD thesis, which is forthcoming with Hart Publishing in January 2020 as a monograph, is entitled ‘Protecting Human Rights and Building Peace in Post-violence Societies: An Underexplored Relationship’ and focuses on the protection of human rights in Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland and South Africa. Dr Hadjigeorgiou has been awarded the Graduate School Studentship from King’s College London (2011-2014), the Leventis Scholarship for academic excellence and research potential (2012-2014) and the Cyprus State Scholarship for academic excellence (2009-2010). She has been the editor of an edited book entitled Identity, Belonging and Human Rights (Brill, 2019) and has published a range of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the area of human rights in Cyprus and elsewhere. Finally, she has presented at conferences at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Nottingham, Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Copenhagen, Cyprus and Ghent. You can find her complete profile here.
Basanti is an aspiring barrister from the Republic of Mauritius, who is currently based in the London to pursue a career at the Bar of England and Wales as an Inner Temple Scholar. Basanti has degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the University of California, Davis, as well as in Law from the Queen Mary University of London, where she was awarded the Senior Status Scholarship for excellence. Her specialism lies at the intersection of public and criminal law, focusing on the fields of counter-terrorism and national security. Prior to beginning her path towards becoming a barrister, Basanti worked with the UN Office of Counter Terrorism, the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and the International Criminal Court.
Basanti is deeply connected to her home country of Mauritius and has worked on several projects relating to various human rights issues faced by the island’s diverse population. Most notably, she has worked closely with the Chagossian community in Mauritius as they continue to seek the ability to return to their homeland of Diego Garcia. Basanti has also worked with Dr. Caroline Morris and the Centre for Small States at Queen Mary University of London which provides a platform for researchers interested in discussing and analysing the particular issues small states face, primarily through a legal but also through an interdisciplinary lens.
Basanti speaks French and English fluently.