The Professor Surya Subedi Global Essay Prize

Professor Surya Subedi QC, OBE, DCL, DPhil (Oxford), Barrister

Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds

On 22 February, 2022, the University of Hull and the Wilberforce Institute launched the Professor Surya Subedi Global Essay Prize on Modern Slavery or the Protection of Human Dignity. This prize of £500 will be awarded annually by the Wilberforce Institute for the best original essay in English on the abolition of any form of modern slavery or the protection of human dignity anywhere in the world. The Prize will be awarded for the first time in March 2023. 

“Professor Subedi is a world-renowned scholar and a champion of human rights. Through his work as a barrister, and numerous high-level positions in governments and national and international organisations, he works incredibly hard to make a difference to the real life of the people around the world. We are extremely proud to present this prize in Professor Subedi’s honour, to raise awareness of modern slavery at a critical time.”

Professor Trevor Burnard, Director of the Wilberforce Institute.

Professor Subedi has published widely on a raft of issues related to human rights and international law, and he has managed to combine this with more practical work in public international law throughout his career. From 2009 to 2015 he was the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia and from 2010 to 2015 he served as a member of a high-level Advisory Group on Human Rights to the British Foreign Secretary. He was a government nominee for appointment to the position of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014. He was elected to the Institut de Droit International at its Session in Rhodes in 2011 and made a Membre Titulaire in 2015. IN 2017 he was appointed Queen’s Counsel honoris causa for his contribution to the development of international law and to the advancement of human rights.

There can be very few alumni of the University of Hull who have touched the lives of so many people in such a profound way. Over a long career in the field of International Human Rights Law, Professor Surya Subedi has worked tirelessly to encourage and assist governments to work towards establishing independent judiciaries. He has secured the release of journalists from prisons, facilitated the safe return of exiled opposition leaders, improved prison conditions and modified land concessions to mitigate human rights abuses in Cambodia.

Asked if he felt the weight of Hull’s connection to causes of human rights, liberty and emancipation while he was studying here, Professor Subedi admitted he did, and that he was inspired by the Wilberforce Museum in particular. His gift to the University will ensure that his name is connected in perpetuity with the advancement of study into the causes for which he has worked so passionately.

This Prize has been made possible by a generous donation from Professor Surya P. Subedi, who graduated in law from the University of Hull in 1988 and is currently Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds. Born in Nepal, where he first studied law, and where his interest in international law began, Professor Subedi won a British Council Scholarship (now known as Chevening Scholarship) to study for an LLM in International Law in 1986, and chose Hull because it had a good reputation in international law, and was known to have a ‘beautiful small compact campus and friendly staff’. Interviewed in 2017, Professor Subedi revealed that he had been advised to choose a ‘smaller nice university like Hull’ because there ‘your professors will get to know you better and you will receive the support and guidance that you will need to do well in your studies’.  He certainly made the most of his studies at Hull, gaining a distinction in his LLM, and has never looked back. After a brief return to Nepal, Professor Subedi enrolled in a doctoral programme in Oxford, after which he entered academia.

The competition is open to any graduate in law and social sciences or humanities from around the world regardless of their nationality. The award will focus on enhancing the employability and profile of early-career academics and will therefore be restricted to candidates below the age of 40 at the time of submission. It must be a single-authored essay and the author must state in the submission that they are the sole author, and they own the copyright in the essay. The essay submitted should have a title which is both concise and descriptive and must be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words in 10-point Times New Roman. It must be an academic piece of work with proper citations and must not have already been published. The length of the essay must be between 3000 and 5000 words, including footnotes following any standard format of referencing such as OSCOLA or Harvard style. The submission must be accompanied by a copy of the CV of the candidate.

The essay must be submitted electronically either in Microsoft Word or in PDF format to the following email address: Wilberforceinstitute@hull.ac.uk The deadline for the first round of essays is 31 December 2022 and the prize of £500 will be awarded in March 2023.

The award will be made to the author of the essay that makes the most exciting original contribution to the relevant field of scholarship and is best-crafted in terms of organisation, style and presentation. By submitting the essay, the candidates agree that if their essay is awarded the Prize, they grant the Wilberforce Institute a non-exclusive licence to publish it online or in any other format that it sees fit. The winning essay will be published on the website of the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, and the Institute may, at its discretion, choose to submit the essay for publication in a physical or online journal or as part of a collated series of prize-winning essays connected to the award.