Dr Richard Carver


Reader in Human Rights and Governance

School of Architecture

Richard Carver


Dr Richard Carver teaches human rights and forced migration studies at Masters level within the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice. His research focuses on the prevention of torture and the role of national human rights institutions.

Richard leads Oxford Brookes's partnership with Arba Minch University in Ethiopia, where he teaches international human rights law and is advising on the development of a migration/refugee studies Masters programme and a new human rights centre.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

  • Human Rights and Governance
  • The Refugee Experience
  • Independent Study
  • Practice-based Study/Dissertation

Teaching interest

  • Human rights
  • Refugees and forced migration
  • Research methods in human rights


Dr Zoë Jordan, "Everyday humanitarians: the act of refugee hosting in protracted urban displacement in Amman, Jordan," PhD thesis completed 2020.


Research interest and consultancy expertise:

  • National human rights institutions
  • Prevention of torture
  • Human rights of refugees
  • Legal aid
  • Freedom of expression.

Research projects

  • The legal assistance work of national human rights institutions, GIZ, 2020-21
  • Impact and effectiveness of the Georgian National Preventive Mechanism, Open Society, 2019
  • Legal aid accessibility in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, Ukraine, UNDP, 2019
  • History of the International Ombudsman Institute 2016-18
  • Effectiveness of torture prevention methods, APT 2011-16
  • Devising a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of Ombudsman institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, UNDP 2013.
  • Devising a media monitoring methodology for the broadcasting regulator, Moldova, Council of Europe, 2010
  • Rationalization of the Croatian human rights protection system, UNDP, 2009-10
  • Litigation strategy on counter-terrorism, human rights and the rule of law, Open Society Justice Initiative, 2009
  • Strategic and communications planning, training curriculum, UNDP, 2008
  • Eminent Jurists' Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists, 2007-9
  • Talking about Terrorism: Risks and Choices for Human Rights Organizations, International Council on Human Rights Policy, 2007-8
  • Evaluation tools for Ombudsman institutions in the former Soviet Union, UNDP, 2007>
  • Prevention of Torture, training curriculum, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights/Association for the Prevention of Torture/Fahamu, 2006
  • Media and Elections, Administration and Cost of Elections Project (www.aceproject.org) International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2006

Research impact

Dr Carver's research, with Dr Lisa Handley (visiting research academic at Oxford Brookes), has had a dramatic impact on priorities in the prevention of torture. The research was published in 2016 in the book Does Torture Prevention Work?

Richard has been formal adviser to two international anti-torture organizations who have revised their strategic plans in light of these findings: DIGNITY, the Danish Institute Against Torture, and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (Geneva). He was in close consultation with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in his development of a proposed international protocol to regulate police interviewing of suspects, as well as with the two UN committees working against torture, and the corresponding Council of Europe body. The chairpersons of both the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Subcommittee for Prevention of Torture have cited the research in their reports to the UN General Assembly. The research has also been publicly cited by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. The former deputy chairperson of the UN Sub-committee for Prevention of Torture describes the research as evidence for a new international legal norm on the protection of the rights of detainees upon arrest.

The research has been seen by practitioners as innovative in its focus, asking a question that had never really been addressed, its methodology, applying sophisticated statistical techniques rarely seen in human rights research, and its findings, which emphasise the overriding importance of practical safeguards for persons first taken into police custody. The influence on decision-makers has been fostered through constant contact, dialogue and practical advice.

Reviews of Does Torture Prevention Work?

“…this book will represent a key source of knowledge in the field of torture prevention and be a valued handbook on torture prevention for many years to come.” (Torture journal)

“This book is important because it is the first evidence-based feedback on the many efforts of national and international actors in the field of torture prevention. The findings of the research can provide concrete and actionable material for those who work in the field of torture prevention, enabling them to focus on and invest in what works rather than only going along with a formatted response…” (International Review of the Red Cross)

“Carver and Handley's work stands as a massive contribution to the field of human rights…” (Canadian Journal of Human Rights)

Research group membership

  • Migration and Refugees




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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies


Recent conference papers

  • “Political representation of small minorities and the international normative framework: lessons from India and other districted electoral systems,” (with Lisa Handley and Sam Ponniah), Addis Ababa Univeristy, March 2021
  • “National human rights institutions and detention safeguards,” Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, University of Vienna, February 2019
  • “Preventing torture through fair treatment in police custody” Hochschule Polizei Brandenburg, October 2018
  • “Does torture prevention work?” University College London/School of Oriental and African Studies, November 2017
  • “Does torture prevention work?” KU Leuven, February 2017
  • “Does torture prevention work?” University of Vienna, February 2017
  • “Does torture prevention work,” University of Oxford, interdisciplinary conference on torture, July 2016
  • “Is there a ‘right to truth’?” University of Ankara, Human Rights Summer School, September 2015.
  • “Following up the recommendations of National Preventive Mechanisms,” Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, University of Vienna, April 2015.
  • “Prevention of torture: a proposed research methodology,” Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, December 2012.
  • "Torture, international law and the enigma of prevention," Instituciones Nacionales de Derechos Humanos (INDDHH) y la Implementación de las Recomendaciones del EPU Relacionadas a la Prevención de la Tortura, Universidad de Palermo, Buenos Aires, December 2011.
  • "NHRIs and humanitarian crises: before, during and after," Non-state actors and human security: revolt, relief and reconstruction, Oxford Brookes University, September 2011.
  • "The EHRC and the implementation of international human rights law," The Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain: Challenges and Opportunities, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, June 2011.
  • "Protecting and promoting ESC rights: How many NHRIs are necessary?," EU-China Human Rights Seminar, Universidad Nacional de Educación Distancia, Madrid, June 2010.

Further details

  • Formerly Head of Africa Programme, ARTICLE 19; Research Director, Human Rights Watch/Africa; Researcher, Amnesty International, International Secretariat.
  • Taught at University of Essex Summer School on human rights research methods, 2018- .