THE new director of Essex University’s human rights centre says he takes up the role at a crucial time for rights around the world.

Dr Andrew Fagan says the centre will have a “vital role” to play in the coming years.

The centre, which sits within the School of Law, boasts more than 2,000 alumni, with many now in positions of influence within the global human rights community.

The centre’s 100 members are drawn from 11 disciplines and it carries out research on a national and international stage.

Dr Fagan succeeds Professor Lorna McGregor at the end of her second three-year term.

He said: “The global human rights project faces many contemporary challenges - climate change, political instability, the rise of xenophobia and intolerance, growing inequality, and states’ continuing failure to respect international human rights law.

“We all have a fundamental interest in living within a sustainable, stable and decent world.

“Human rights can help us achieve this aspiration.

“Over the next stage of the centre’s development, we will resolutely mobilise our resources to ensure the centre continues to play a vital role in protecting and promoting human rights for all.”

Dr Fagan joined the centre in 1998 and was appointed co-deputy director in August 2018.

He is the author of four books and has taught around the world.

This year will see the centre developing a number of relationships within the community.

It is working with Colchester Council and Firstsite to plan a programme of events intended to raise awareness of human rights among the population.

Professor McGregor said it had been a “great privilege” to direct the centre since her appointment in 2013.

She said: “It has been a great privilege to work with such an amazing and inspiring team of scholars, practitioners, students and alumni - I am incredibly grateful for all their help and support.

“Over the past six years, we have seen the membership of the centre grow significantly.

“We’ve made new connections and brought new voices to the table, creating a truly interdisciplinary environment.

“Whether finding new approaches to enduring problems or addressing emerging challenges, key to our success has been the priority we have given to the operationalisation of human rights.

“Our focus has been not only on finding ways to strengthen human rights institutions, but developing ways to embed human rights principles within governments, businesses and social movements.

“I would like to congratulate Andrew on his appointment and look forward to the centre going from strength to strength under his leadership.”