New Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford University to open later this year

24 February 2016

The Faculty of Law in the University of Oxford, already the largest law school in the UK, has announced the creation of a dedicated Institute for the study of human rights law. Building work is to start within weeks in the grounds of Mansfield College, where the new Institute will be located. This joint initiative between the Faculty of Law and the College is led by Mansfield’s Principal, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a barrister well-known for championing civil liberties and human rights.

The new Institute will be called The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford, named after the Bonavero family. Yves Bonavero and his wife, Anne, founded the A B Charitable Trust to defend and promote the cause of human dignity. The Trust has provided the Institute with an endowment to fund its Director and core staff.

Yves Bonavero said: ‘My family is delighted to support the timely creation of a world-class Institute of Human Rights and cannot think of a better home for it than the internationally-renowned Law Faculty at the University of Oxford. Under its aegis, the new Institute will produce, and deploy in the field, academic research of such calibre that the lives of men, women and children worldwide will be improved.’

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson, said: ‘Research and teaching in the field of human rights has never been more important. The creation of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights will enable us to bring renewed focus to our existing activities in this field. We are immensely grateful to our donors for their generosity and commitment.’

£22m has already been raised to fund the building work, the endowment for the core staff and operating costs of the Institute. Other generous and engaged donors are supporting the project including the A. G. Leventis Foundation and the H. K. Leventis Family.

The Institute is expected to begin work in late 2016, with the building due to be completed for the start of the following academic year. The Institute will serve as a focal point for human rights law scholarship in Oxford. Its chief aim will be to foster greater academic and public understanding of human rights law through teaching, research, and working with other disciplines with an interest in human rights. The Institute will also provide students and others in the Law Faculty with additional opportunities to gain practical experience and to enhance the impact of their research by working more closely with lawyers and policy-makers in the field.

The Institute is now seeking to appoint its first Director, who will be responsible for leading this landmark institution which will foster links between research and practice in the field of human rights. Other new posts at the Institute will include a programme director, a research co-ordinator, a post-doctoral researcher and support staff.

The new building has been designed by internationally-renowned Rick Mather Architects. Spread over two floors, the institute will include a lecture auditorium (to be shared with Mansfield College), study rooms and a seminar room. There will also be 74 student rooms for undergraduates at Mansfield College

Leading human rights lawyers in the Faculty include Professor Sandra Fredman, who has published widely on anti-discrimination law, human rights law and labour law; Professor Liora Lazarus, whose work focuses on human rights in the field of criminal justice; and Professor Dapo Akande, who researches human rights issues in public international law. Professor Fredman is the director of the Oxford Human Rights Hub, which hosts a blog on international human rights issues and organises seminars and other events in the field. The new Institute will build on the Faculty’s established reputation in human rights law.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC said: ‘The Rule of Law and the protection of human rights is fundamental to stable societies. We only have to look at fragile legal systems around the world to see why law and independent lawyers and judges matter. On arriving at Oxford to be Principal at Mansfield College I knew that this had to be the big goal - to leave behind an Institute for Human Rights in one of the greatest law faculties in the world, located in the most perfect of colleges and supported by people who care about justice. The Institute will be at the heart of one of the greatest conversations of mankind – how to make a better world.’

Professor Anne Davies, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Oxford, added: ‘We are delighted that such generous donors have made it possible to create the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford in association with Mansfield College. Oxford is now positioned as one of the top places in the world to study the important field of human rights law at an international, European and domestic level.’

For more information, contact the University of Oxford News Office on +44 (0)1865 280534 or email:

Notes for Editors:

  • Images are available on request
    Please credit the images of the new building to Rick Mather Architects
    Images of donor Mr Yves Bonavero should be credited to Julia Chambers
    Images of Baroness Helena Kennedy QC should be credited to Ashwood Photography
  • The Oxford Law Faculty 
    The Faculty offers an undergraduate option in Human Rights Law on its BA programme, as well as incorporating human rights law into core courses, such as Constitutional Law. The Faculty’s graduate offerings include courses on Comparative Human Rights; Criminal Justice, Security and Human Rights, and Private Law and Fundamental Rights. See:
  • The Oxford Human Rights Hub
    The Hub was established by Professor Sandra Fredman to use technology to develop human rights initiatives, and create links between academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in human rights law from across the globe. The Hub Website (link here) provides a portal for human rights activities and research at Oxford University, as well as providing access to human rights resources and publications.
    The Hub Blog provides a space for human rights academics and students, lawyers and policy makers from across the globe to share and discuss recent human rights developments. The Blog has published over 600 posts by more than 250 different contributors from a globally diverse authorship. Its first annual print anthology, Global Perspectives on Human Rights was published in April 2014 as an e-book, and a second edition released in early 2015. The Hub hosts a seminar series to discuss cutting edge issues in human rights and to connect the theory and practice of human rights law, and has eminent persons such as judges, UN Special Rapporteurs and senior academics speaking to students and the public.
  • Mr Yves Bonavero
    Yves was born and educated in Paris. He holds a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy and German, as well as an MA, from Oxford University. In 1990, together with his wife Anne, he established the AB Charitable Trust ( Trust’s aims are the defence and promotion of human dignity and it has made grants of some £15m to date.
    Yves started his business career at ED&F Man, joining the partnership in 1983 and becoming Group Chief Executive Officer in 1987, aged 34. He retired from the City in his late thirties, and has since held a number of non-executive directorships in companies ranging from hedge fund managers in Asia to commercial property investment in the UK and food processing in Spain. Yves was a founder-director of Kensington Group Plc, a start-up mortgage bank, which was successfully floated on the LSE in November 2000.In 1996, Yves helped create two major businesses in Poland: Dom Development, listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 2006, which currently develops over 2,000 homes a year, and Europa Park, the country’s premier logistics and distribution centre. Yves is the chairman of Woodsford Consulting Ltd, which he founded in 1996, and of Woodsford Litigation Funding Ltd, which he founded in 2010 to promote access to justice for impecunious claimants with meritorious cases in the field of large commercial litigation and international arbitration. Yves’s first novel, Something in the Sea, was published by Bloomsbury in 2006; his second, The Nuremberg Enigma, will be published later this year.
  • Mansfield College
    Mansfield College has approximately 50 academic staff, 220 undergraduates, 160 graduates and 35 visiting students. This small size engenders friendly and close relationships not only amongst undergraduates, but also between Junior (undergraduate), Middle (graduate) and Senior (tutors) Common Rooms. Mansfield’s roots are in the Nonconformist tradition. It provides a progressive, informal environment, in which tutors and students work together to achieve academic excellence and sustain a supportive and lively community. Detailed information about Mansfield College may be found at .
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC 
    Helena Kennedy is one of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished lawyers. She is also currently Principal of Mansfield College. A Queen’s Counsel and member of the Upper Chamber of the British Parliament, the House of Lords, she is still a practicing barrister in the field of human rights. She has received many honours for her work on the Rule of Law and the rights of the disadvantaged: 39 Honorary Doctorates from leading universities, Fellowship of three Royal Medical Colleges, Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Science and the Royal Society of Arts. She was also recently appointed an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy. She was appointed a Cavaliere di Gran Croce, Italy’s highest honour, in 2003 and was a recipient of the Palme Academique from the French Government in 2004. She received the Royal Medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011 for her work in Human Rights.
  • The Oxford Thinking Campaign
    Launched in 2008, the Oxford Thinking Campaign is the biggest and most ambitious fundraising campaign for Higher Education in Europe. Funds raised through the Campaign support three core priorities: student support; academic posts and programmes; and infrastructure.
  • For more information, go to