Within the more general field of public international law, my current research focuses on three areas. The first concerns the law of the sea, in particular the law relating to maritime boundary delimitation. This was the subject of my doctoral thesis and I have continued to research and write on this topic over the last 20 years. I am shortly to commence a new monograph on this topic. The second and third areas concern human rights, and in particular the freedom of religion or belief and torture and torture prevention.
Since the publication of my book entitled Religious Liberty and International Law in Europe (1997, re-issued in January 2008) I have become intimately involved in many international processes concerning the freedom of religion or belief, at the UN, the EU, the Council of Europe and in particular at the Organization on Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of whose Advisory Council on Freedom of Religion and Belief I have been a member since 2004. This involves me in a wide variety of activities, including the drafting of Guidelines on the teaching about religion or belief in public schools (the Toledo Guiding Principles, 2008). I am currently involved in re-writing the OSCE/Venice Commission’s Guidelines for Review of Legislation Pertaining to Religion or Belief. I have also recently written reports for the European Union on the relationship between the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression and for the Council of Europe a work entitled Manual on the Wearing of Religious Symbols in Public Areas.
Since the mid 1990s I have been closely involved in matters concerning the prevention of torture and co-authored a number of works on this topic, with Professor Rod Morgan, notably Preventing Torture (1998) and Combating Torture in Europe (2001). At that time I became a member of the Board of Management of the international NGO, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, and with them worked towards the adoption in 2002 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, as well as the Robben Island Guidelines on Torture Prevention in Africa. Following the entry into force of the Optional Protocol in 2006 I have be closely involved in two major research projects funded by the AHRC and based at Bristol looking into the practical functioning the National Preventive Mechanisms and at the implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines. Since 2009 these have been combined in the newly established Human Rights Implementation Centre, which I have directed in it first year of operation. I am currently involved in co-authoring a book on the Optional Protocol with colleagues at Bristol.
In 2009 I became a member of the United Nations human rights treaty body established under the Optional Protocol, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. As a member of that body I am able to participate in visits to places of detention in states party and play an active role in representing the Subcommittee in many processes and events in all parts of the world.
I also remain active in more general areas of international law and have just completed overseeing the production of the 3rd edition of International Law, a multi-authored textbook of which I am editor. I also continue in my role as an editor of the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, and as co-editor of the book series, Foundations of Public International Law, published by the Oxford University Press, for which I am planning to co-author a monograph on aspects of international dispute settlement.
Religious Liberty and International Law in Europe (2008) Cambridge University Press.
International Law (3rd ed) (2010) Oxford University Press.