Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) is an organisation based at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law and affiliated with the Oxford Human Rights Hub. It undertakes pro bono comparative legal research which contributes to litigations and reports in the area of public interest law. Many of OPBP’s present and past projects deal with international and human rights law issues related to armed conflicts. OPBP research in this regard concerns three main areas: international law opinions on the conduct of states in armed conflicts; detention of persons allegedly related to terrorism; and the protection of vulnerable groups during/following hostilities.
International and comparative law opinions
Three major pieces of OPBP work fall into this area. The first is an independent submission on the legality of the invasion of Iraq, which was submitted in response to a call by the Iraq Inquiry in 2010. The second is an OPBP opinion considering whether the evictions that took place in Zimbabwe under Operation Murambatsvina constitute crimes against humanity as defined in the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The third is an independent international law opinion for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel concerning the Legal Consequences of Israel’s Construction of a Separation Barrier in the Occupied Territories.
Detention in the war on terror
OPBP produced a major report for the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights on the use of secret evidence in the UK, which was followed by a complementary report in 2012. Moreover, OPBP has dealt with individual human rights complaints of Guantanamo Bay detainees and their petitions for habeas corpus.
OPBP’s work is also central to the drafting of new UN guidelines on arbitrary detention, which also dealt with the treatment of detainees in armed conflict. In 2014, OPBP prepared a report for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention concerning remedies and procedures on the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty by arrest or detention to bring proceedings before a court. Currently, OPBP is finalising a follow-up report for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on secret rendition, aiming to support those who wish to seek compensation for instances of secret rendition in domestic courts.
Protection of vulnerable groups
In 2013, OPBP collaborated with the Women’s Legal Aid Centre in South Africa and Womankind Worldwide to produce a report instrumental to the revision of certain aspects of refugee law and policy in the United Republic of Tanzania, including the treatment of Burundi former refugees by the Tanzanian government.
Recently, OPBP completed a report for REDRESS investigating the remedies and reparations for victims of sexual and gender based violence which underpins amicus curiae submissions before the Kenyan High Court dealing with the violence of the post-2007 elections. In 2015, OPBP worked with REDRESS on a report aimed at developing recommendations and/or a model legal framework for victim participation in judicial mechanisms for the prosecution of international crimes.
Law Faculty Members
Professor Liora Lazarus
Professor Sandra Fredman
Dr Eirik Bjorge
Chair: Ivo Gruev
Deputy Chair: Ugochukwu Elzeh
Treasurer: Ruoyu Li
Public Relations: Olivia Flasch
Internship Co-ordinators: Helen Taylor and Jacob Burnett