Students Staff

07 March 2016

Human rights champion wins Education UK Alumni Awards in Brazil

Photo of Dr Leticia Osorio

Dr Leticia Osorio

Human rights lawyer Dr Leticia Osorio won the social impact category of the Education UK Alumni Awards in Brazil organised by the British Council.

The award acknowledges her exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others. The awards were announced on Monday 7 March at a ceremony in Sao Paulo.

Dr Osorio, who now works as Human Rights Programme Officer at The Ford Foundation in Rio De Janeiro, completed a PhD in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex between 2007 and 2011. During her time she was also a Co-ordinator and Director of the Essex Human Rights Clinic.

She said: “Through my job with the Ford Foundation, I support marginalised communities to achieve protection of their fundamental rights. I focus on bridging the disconnection between the provisions of the Constitution and the lived realities of urban poor communities in a meaningful manner.

“I support people to develop alternative solutions to the negative social impacts of large urban development projects and mega sporting events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics.

“As part of this work I support a large group of non-governmental organisations, social movements and academic centres in Brazil to work to advance enforcement of the right to the city, in a changing context, where violence and the deterioration of quality of life have been affecting those who are already marginalised and excluded.”

Dr Osorio completed her PhD, supervised by Professor Paul Hunt and Professor Sabine Michalowski, on the social function of property and the human right to security of tenure in Latin America. She received a Chevening Scholarship and HEFCE Overseas Research Students Award to support her studies.

She believes her experience at Essex has been a huge help in her work and career: “Studying at Essex provided me with substantial knowledge of international human rights law, in theory and practice and gave me considerable leverage to move forward in my professional career.

“Everything I learnt in the UK helped me achieve my job with the Ford Foundation in Brazil. Through this job I support grassroots communities to fight the negative social impacts of large urban development projects and mega sporting events.

“During my PhD studies I participated in the creation of the Essex Human Rights Clinic, in 2010. I was appointed Director of the Clinic for 2010-2011, and coordinated international advocacy and litigation efforts to protect the rights of the Gypsy community of Dale Farm against forced evictions, in Basildon, nearby the University of Essex.

“This involved working in conjunction with the Dale Farm Housing Association and the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission to try to find alternative solutions to the eviction.”

Her practical experiences with the Essex Human Rights Clinic and her research studies are continuing to make a valuable contribution to her work.

“One of the goals of my work has been to test whether urban reform frameworks and policies can rely on a rights-based approach from concept to implementation to outcomes,” said Dr Osorio. “There have been many opportunities to further establish the value of this strategy, especially in the context of the realization of mega sporting events in Rio de Janeiro.”

The Education UK Alumni Awards honour the outstanding achievements made by business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders across the globe who can demonstrate how their UK education has contributed to their subsequent success.

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