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Dr Benedict Douglas

Assistant Professor in Law

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Assistant Professor in Law in the Durham Law SchoolPCL135 
Member of Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)  


Benedict Douglas attempts to work out what it means to be human and what this means for how human rights laws should be understood and interpreted. When not reading or writing, this often looks suspiciously like he is gazing absentmindedly into space.

He began lecturing in 2013. Prior to this he completed a PhD at Durham, and unfortunately put the thesis synopsis into the title box on the form. Before this, as a result of excellent and patient teaching, he had gained a First Class Law Degree from the University of Hull, after which he spent a fascinating year at University College London obtaining an LLM in Human Rights Law.

His first academic article highlighted the absence of human dignity in UK human rights law, and explained the origin and effect of this oversight in the context of the initial hostility to the Human Rights Act. After Dr Tom Hannant pointed out there was more work to do, Benedict published a subsequent article analysing the moral basis of the UK Constitution and its relation to the widely accepted foundation of human rights in individual freedom. This article revealed that the Constitution’s conception of people as duty bearers explained the domestic political duty-based anti-Human Rights Act rhetoric, and some judicial interpretations of human rights.

Subsequently realising that the rational capacity to choose how to act was insufficient to describe how humans understand themselves and experience the world, he is currently writing on the role of love in human rights law and their judicial interpretation.

He co-supervises Mikael Lundmark who is writing a PhD on the land rights of the Sámi under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Benedict also enjoys water sports, adventure and writing in the third person.

Reseach Groups

The Center for Ethics and Law in the Life Sceinces
The Human Rights Centre

Teaching Areas

Introduction to English Law and Legal Methods
UK Constitutional Law

Research interests

  • Jurisprudence
  • Human Rights Law
  • Domestic and Comparative Constitutional Law

Research groups

  • Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences
  • Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy
  • Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy
  • Human Rights Centre

Awarded Grants

  • 2014: 2014-2017 Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research Through the Medium of Law (Wellcome Trust, £29,961). PI: Pattinson CIs: Douglas & Kind.


Chapter in book

  • Allen, Tom & Douglas, Benedict. (2011). Property Restitution. In Transitional Jurisprudence and the ECHR: Justice, Politics and Rights. Buyse, Antoine & Hamilton, Michael. Cambridge University Press.

Journal Article


  • Cross, K., Dean, L., Douglas, B., Price, B., Slocombe, K. & Seed, A. (2016). Chimp of Trial (Witness for the Defence). Cheltenham Science Festival, Cheltenham.
  • Cross, C, Dean, L, Douglas, B & Price, B (2015). Chimp of Trial (Witness for the Defence). Durham.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2011). The Human in Human Rights, with Reference to Dwarf Tossing and Alligator Wrestling. Newcastle, England.


  • Douglas, Benedict (2019), What's love got to do with it?, Irish Association of Law Teachers. Limerick, Ireland.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2019), What's love got to do with it?, Society of Legal Scholars. University of Central Lancashire, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2018), “I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.” The importance of AI being able to say no, Regulating Intelligence: The Challenge of Consciousness in New Forms of Life. Newcastle, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2018), "He loved Big Brother" But What of the State's Love for the Citizen?, Constitutionalism, Scale and Tyranny. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2016), The Implications of the Nature of Being for Human Rights Protection, Intersubjectivity and Values. Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Douglas, Benedict & Kind, Vanessa (2016), Modifying the Trolley Problem to Develop Understanding of Ethics, Society of Legal Scholars. Oxford, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2016), Safe Spaces of Inclusion and Exclusion and the Law, St Chad’s College Perspectives Programme. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2016), The Phenomenology of Dignity - Why Dignity Discourse Alone Cannot Fix the UK's Human Rights Hostility, The Future of Human Dignity. Utrecht, Holland.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2015), Human Rights and Philosophical Underpinning of the Autonomy/Paternalism Debate, Young People with Mental Disorder - Is the Law Fit for Purpose?.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2014), Why We Have & Need Human Rights, School Discussion. Ackworth, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2014), Commentary on: Dr. Ilke Turkmendag, “It is just a battery: m(DNA) replacement and the right to know.”, New Technologies, Developments in the Biosciences and the New Frontiers of Human Rights. Durham, England, Durham.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2014), Let’s Get Metaphysical: Interpreting Article 8 using Sartre and Gewirth, Society of Legal Scholars. Nottingham, England, Nottingham.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2013), A Metaphysical Understanding of the Variable Extent of Privacy Protection under the European Convention on Human Rights, Fifth Northumbria Information Rights Conference. Newcastle, England, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2013), Lets Get Metaphysical: Article 8, Alan Gewirth and Jean-Paul Sartre, Staff Seminar. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2012), School Workshop on Human Rights, Washington, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2012), Killer Whales: A Question of Humanitee, Postgraduate Conference on Biosciences. Durham, England, Durham.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2012), The Songs of Angry Men: Why the Human Rights Act has not been Accepted, Borderlands Interdisciplinary Discussion Series. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2012), The English Legal System, Workshop on the English Legal System, Case Management and Human Rights for the Thai Judiciary. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2011), Was the Killing of Bin Laden Justified?, College Forum Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2010), The Clothes We Stand Up In: Identity, Clothing and Streaking, Interdisciplinary Forum on Clothing. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2010), Nobody Tosses a Dwarf: The Interpretation of Human Rights, Ustinov Seminar Series. Durham, England.
  • Douglas, Benedict (2010), Humpty Dumpty and Convention Rights, Human Rights Centre Post-graduate Workshop. Durham, England, Durham.

Supervision students