New Zealand professor puts global human rights agenda on trial

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Judy McGregor, a human rights expert from New Zealand, takes up her new role in London as a NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor this month. She will be based at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study for 12 weeks until 25 November. 

The professor of human rights and head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Auckland University of Technology, has an international reputation and was the first equal employment opportunities commissioner with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. She is a former media academic, and newspaper editor. A renowned expert on women’s economic and employment rights, has worked internationally for the Asia Pacific Forum – with emerging human rights institutions in the Maldives, Nepal, Palestine and Malaysia – and has led media monitoring missions in Timor-Leste and new Pacific states.

While in London, Professor McGregor will lead a series of free public debates about the critically important global human rights agenda and how state parties implement their obligations. She is no stranger to the UK having held fellowships at the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh.

‘My aim is to use insights from four years of research into country reporting on the seven major international human rights treaties,’ explains Professor McGregor, who will be based at the School’s Human Rights Consortium, ‘and to ask why we have progressed or regressed in the fulfilment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights “on the ground”. I hope to address what we can collectively do to address a creeping culture of complacency.’

The four lectures will explore:

  • human rights and the news media
  • the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review
  • women’s human rights
  • mainstreaming human rights

The first, 'Human rights and the news media: an ethic of care?' at the School of Advanced Study on 20 October, is followed by events at the University of Durham, the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Professor McGregor has recently completed four research project on human rights in New Zealand. It showed the country was regressing in areas like child poverty, pay equity and social and economic disadvantages for women.

In June this year Professor McGregor was the Supreme Award in Governance winner in the national Women in Governance Awards. It is is presented annually to a New Zealand woman who has achieved excellence in governance through a lifetime commitment to promotion, support and mentoring.

Sir Graeme Davies, chairman of the NZ-UK Link Foundation, said of this visit, ‘The Link Foundation is very pleased to have Professor McGregor as its latest visiting professor. As her visit is most timely in view of the current political interest in human rights issues. Her lecture series will bring new insights into this important area of research.’

‘The NZ-UK Link Professorship has proved highly successful in allowing academics and practitioners from the UK to learn from the expertise of distinguished New Zealand scholars working in a wide variety of fields. We particularly welcome the appointment of Professor McGregor,’ says Professor Philip Murphy, Deputy Dean of SAS and director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. ‘The School provides a major focus for the activities of human rights experts from Britain and around the world, and we look forward to working closely with Professor McGregor during her time in the UK.’

Details of the visiting professorship programme of public lectures is available from the NZ-UK Link Foundation website


Notes for editors:
1. For further information please contact Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8653 / Images available on request.

2. The Visiting Professors are chosen by a selection panel comprising NZ-UK Link Foundation Trustees and Professors at the University of London.

3. The NZ-UK Link Foundation is a registered charity whose primary objective is to make ‘an ongoing substantial contribution to the intellectual, educational, vocational and academic underpinning of the bilateral relationship in a changing world’.

4. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London  is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2014-15, SAS: welcomed 805 research fellows and associates; held 2,073 research dissemination events; received 23.1 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 213,456 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

5. Each year the School welcomes around 170 visiting research fellows who benefit from its unique research resources and multidisciplinary scholarly community. In addition to visiting fellowship programmes, the School offers professorial, honorary and senior research fellowships. Through the hosting of these fellowships, the School fulfils its overall aims of enriching the research infrastructure of its national and international subject communities and other stakeholders.

6. Professor Judy McGregor is head of Auckland University of Technology’s School of Social Sciences and Public Policy and associate dean with responsibility for postgraduate studies. She is a trained lawyer, former newspaper academic with a PhD in political communication and former Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. She has wide expertise in human rights and social justice issues. Her specific interests lie in discrimination issues, civil political rights and equal employment opportunity issue including equal pay and the employment of ethnic and minority groups. She was funded by New Zealand Law Foundation to assess the impact of New Zealand’s ratification of the international treaty bodies and co-published Human Rights in New Zealand: Emerging Faultlines in 2016.