Juno Worsdell, second year LLB Law student, writes for Human Rights Pulse

We spoke to Juno about her experience of writing for the Human Rights Pulse, where her interest in human rights stems from and why she has decided to set up the Human Rights Law Group.

Please tell us about your experience of writing the blog post for Human Rights Pulse. How did this opportunity come about?

Earlier this year, I attended a virtual human rights career day, where Aqsa Hussain, one of the co-founders of Human Rights Pulse spoke about the initiative. After hearing from her again at a Women Breaking Barriers event, I decided to visit the website and I pitched my idea for the article. Aqsa then contacted me stating that she liked the idea and offered me some guidance on how to write my first article for the page. The piece I wrote is entitled ‘Cuba’s Human Rights Council Re-Election Should Be As Controversial As China And Russia’s’. I found researching and writing about my interests regarding human rights very engaging, and it helped that the editors and founders have helped to make the experience at Human Rights Pulse so welcoming and accessible. I hope to contribute more articles in the coming months.

When did you become interested in human rights and why does this topic interest you?

I first became interested in women’s rights when I was around thirteen, and eventually, this interest naturally progressed into the larger field of human rights. I became interested in learning about the international community’s role in fighting against human rights violations; more specifically, the standards laid out in international law, versus the reality of many governments’ failure to comply. Because of this, my interests were naturally drawn to Law to have a better understanding of our current institutions, their powers, and their flaws. 

Is there an aspect or area of human rights you have a particular focus on? How does the LLB Law degree help you pursue your research interests?

Over the years, I’ve developed a particular interest in Latin American politics and subsequent human rights violations caused by its conflicts. Being Brazilian, my interest began there and eventually I’ve developed particular concern over countries such as Cuba and Venezuela. Specifically, what role the international community has in helping to prevent more human rights abuses from occurring in these countries. 

LLB Law has been very useful in helping me to explore my research interests. The ‘Researching Law’ module in second year allowed me to explore a research area or potential dissertation title, where I was able to investigate how effective the EU has been in responding to Cuba’s human rights violations. The experience gave me the independence to explore my interests while beginning to prepare me for my dissertation in my third year. Secondly, the ‘International Human Rights Law and International Law’ optional modules in second year have allowed me to focus my degree on my passion for human rights. Through these modules, I can learn about the global and regional mechanisms in place, their level of influence, and how effective they are in upholding human rights. I feel these modules are an excellent way to begin preparing me for any potential career in human rights law. 

Why did you choose to study LLB Law at Leeds?

A large reason for me deciding on Leeds was because I knew that the LLB Law course provided International Human Rights Law as a module in second year, which is why I am now so excited to be able to finally be doing it, and I am enjoying it very much. Furthermore, I found the School of Law a very inviting place to study, and it was enlightening seeing such passionate lecturers within the Law school discussing their areas of research during the Open Day. I knew that Law at Leeds would be an inspiring place to study. 

Can you tell us more about the Human Rights Law Group initiative you are setting up?

The Human Rights Law Group was an idea to help clarify the rather murky waters of the human rights field. Whereas the path to a career in commercial law is clearer with applications and vacation schemes, it can be difficult to navigate what experience is needed, what careers there are, and what paths are available to students interested in a human rights law career. I felt this was a gap in the School of Law that needed filling, and our plan in the coming months is to help students build community awareness in the human rights field, as well as notifying them of events regarding careers, and even co-operating with other groups, such as the Leeds Human Rights Journal, to help provide more opportunities for students to build their CV. 

The Human Rights Law Group is still a new and growing initiative and is always looking for people who wish to participate. Therefore, anyone who wishes to get involved in any way, be it through community engagement or writing, can hear more about the initiative either through our Instagram (@humanrightslawleeds) or they can email me (lw19j2w@leeds.ac.uk). We are very much looking forward to seeing where this initiative will go.

Does your interest in human rights link to any other co-curricular activities?

With the pandemic, it has been difficult pursuing my interests in human rights more practically and directly. Because of this, writing has been an accessible way to continue with my research interests while developing my community awareness. Therefore, I am looking forward to writing more articles in the coming future, and once restrictions begin to ease, the opportunity to contribute more directly through volunteering will become easier.