Fifth Annual NNHRR Conference
Toogdag 2022
Human Rights in (Times of) Crisis 

                                                                                                                 © J. Ruiter

22nd - 23rd June 2022
Hosted by Leiden University Law School, Steenschuur 25, Leiden

For more information on how to get the venue, click here.


Registration has now closed. 

Conference Theme: 'Human rights in (times of) crisis.'

The theme of the Toogdag, or annual research day of the NNHRR, speaks to multiple crises we face in the contemporary world. When this theme was chosen in January, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine had not happened yet, but renders it all the more urgent. The Ukrainian crisis shakes the very foundations of Europe and its commitment to the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It also profoundly affects the world at large. The human rights tragedy unfolding before our eyes confronts us with the question what role human rights and the human rights institutions we have can play in such a crisis, or are they no more than paper tigers? What inspiration can we still find in a human rights based approach?  

The same sort of questions arise in respect of several other severe and complex crises we face worldwide, such as pollution and climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, growing inequality, the rise of authoritarian regimes in many more countries than Russia, and what we could call an information crisis, that is the manipulation by powerful state and non-state actors of access to information to create whatever ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ are deemed useful. At the same time, since the turn of the century, the idea that human rights should be central in addressing such crises has been losing ground. Major world powers have been showing increasing disdain for human rights and often do so openly, and an increasing number of countries seem to follow this trend. As such, human rights as a broadly accepted, global frame of reference seems in crisis itself. In addition, within academia human rights have also come under increasing attack. Scholars committed to human rights and social justice may have widely divergent perspectives on what human rights mean in concrete cases. This seems to be leading increasingly to severe tensions between scholars, students, and the general public, constraining debate for fear of reprisal. Such tensions may prove divisive and potentially weaken the concerted efforts needed to promote the enjoyment of human rights.

In bringing together the expertise of its members, the 2022 Toogdag of the NNHRR seeks to explore what role a human rights based approach can play to confront and overcome the above types of crises from a multidisciplinary, human rights perspective.

Final Programme

Wednesday, 22 June

15:00-17:00: PhD Workshop 
(B0.25 KOG)
This year’s Toogdag PhD workshop will address the theme ‘research in times of crisis’. The workshop aims to explore ways to manage a research project in times of crisis. Questions like ‘how to deal with sudden change’ and ‘how to remain committed to and motivated in your research in times of crisis’ will be addressed and participants will have the opportunity to exchange their own experiences and ideas. The workshop will be led by Jasmijn Mioch

17:30-19:00: Boat Trip in Leiden (PhDs)
After the PhD workshop, all participants are welcome to join the boat trip through Leiden, including drinks and bites! 
Location: Apothekersdijk 5, Leiden.

Thursday, 23 June

10:00-10:30: Registration and coffee (B0.13 KOG)

10:30-10:45: Welcome (A1.44 KOG) 
By Prof. Yvonne Donders, Chair of the NNHRR Steering Committee. 

10:45-12:15: Plenary on 'Human rights in (times of) crisis' (A1.44 KOG)
This kick-off plenary panel will discuss what role human rights and the human rights institutions we have can – or cannot – play in addressing several crises we face. Particular attention is directed at the COVID-19 crisis, the climate change crisis, the information crisis, and the crisis of democracy and rule of law. Panellists:

  • Prof. Karin Arts (Erasmus University / ISS): ‘Climate change: The pros and cons of human rights-based approaches’
  • Prof. Antoine Buyse (Utrecht University): ‘Rule of law and civic space - connected crises’
  • Dr. Jennifer Sellin (Maastricht University): ‘A rights-based approach to global access to COVID-19 vaccines’
  • Prof. Tarlach McGonagle (University of Amsterdam / Leiden University): 'Freedom of expression and information in times of permacrisis'
    Moderator: Prof. Ingrid Leijten (Tilburg University) 

12:15-13:30: Lunch break (B0.17 KOG) 

13:30-15:00: Parallel Sessions organized by the NNHRR Working Groups
During these sessions the three working groups—Business and Human Rights, Migration and Borders and Human Rights in the Digital Age—will link the theme of the conference to their specific research focus. These sessions are organized for and open to all participants of the Toogdag.

13:30-15:00: Migration and Borders WG Panel (B0.41 KOG)
Featuring four speakers, this round table discussion on the topic ‘Crisis narratives in the context of migration and human rights’ will touch on the following questions: How is the narrative of ‘crisis’ invoked in popular, political, and legal discourses on migration? What is perceived as a crisis and what not? What are the effects of (not) speaking in terms of ‘crisis’? And more specifically, how do ‘crisis’-driven discourses and policy-making affect human rights of people on the move? The afore-mentioned questions will be unpacked in the context of either the so-called ‘migration/refugee crisis,’ the Ukraine/Syria/Afghanistan/Belarus crisis, the climate crisis, the the COVID-crisis, or the lack of a crisis discourse for other situations of massive human rights violations. Panellists:

  • Saskia Bonjour (University of Amsterdam) 
  • Mariana Gkliati (Radboud University) 
  • Isabella Leroy (VU Amsterdam) 
  • Lilian Tsourdi (Maastricht University) 
  • Karin de Vries (VU Amsterdam) 
    Moderator: Lynn Hillary (University of Amsterdam) 

13:30-15:00: Business and Human Rights WG Panel (B0.32 KOG)
This panel will be chaired by Nina Mann, one of the co-chairs of the Business and Human Rights WG. The panel will include the following three presentations:

  • Marlies Hesselman (University of Groningen): ‘No darkness, no cold!’: Rights-based (self-) regulation of energy providers in times of COVID and the European gas price crisis’
  • Debadatta Bose (University of Amsterdam): ‘The balance of UNGPs pillars during pandemics: Corporate responsibility in COVID-19 times’
  • Natalia Skowronek (Radboud University): Protection and inclusion of “essential” EU migrant workers in times of the COVID-19 pandemic’

13:30-15:00: Human Rights in the Digital Age WG Panel (B0.25 KOG)
Panel title: Information and communication rights in (times of) crisis.

  • Katie Pentney (University of Oxford): ‘Government disinformation and freedom of expression in times of crisis’
  • Michael Klos (Leiden University): ‘The EU code of practice on disinformation and the Dutch judiciary’
  • Lisa Markova (Radboud University): ‘Remaining anonymous on social media during crises: pros, pitfalls and legal regulation in the EU’
  • Heleen Janssen (University of Amsterdam): ‘Preventing occurrences of fundamental rights crises? An approach to a fundamental rights impact assessment’
    Moderator: Prof. Tarlach McGonagle (University of Amsterdam / Leiden University)

15:00-15:15: Coffee break (B0.13 KOG)

15:15-16:45: Parallel Sessions on the theme 'Human rights in (times of) crisis'
Here, the crises briefly discussed in the plenary panel are elaborated on and addressed from a variety of perspectives. In each parallel session, researchers from different universities will give short presentations on their work in these areas.

15:15-16:45: Democracy and Rule of Law Crisis Parallel Session (B0.41 KOG)

  • Prof. Lieneke Slingenberg (VU Amsterdam): ‘Executive supremacy? Crises in
    the reception of asylum seekers: from Tamils to Ukrainians’
  • Prof. Rick Lawson (Leiden University): ‘The edifying story of Hansje Brinkers,
    or how the Council of Europe failed to contain the bad guys’
  • Dr. Jasper Krommendijk (Radboud University): ‘Naked or golden gun? The
    effectiveness of EU law enforcement mechanisms to counter rule of law backsliding’
  • Dr. Pola Cebulak (University of Amsterdam): ‘Microdosing democratic values’
  • Prof. Sanne Taekema (Erasmus University): ‘The formality of legality: The
    instrumentalization of the rule of law in crisis response’
    Moderator: Nada Heddane (Leiden University)

15:15-16:45: Information in Crisis Parallel Session (B0.25 KOG)

  • Sarah Eskens (VU Amsterdam): ‘EU competences regarding disinformation:
    Should we empower the EU to do more?’
  • Dr. Laura Henderson (Utrecht University): ‘Judging uncertain information in
    times of crisis’
  • Dr. Silvia de Conca (VU Amsterdam): ‘From news anchors to Alexa:
    information in the smart home’
  • Dr. Lorenzo Dalla Corte (Tilburg University): ‘Comparing the length of lines to
    the weight of swords: active measures and the limits of proportionality testing’
    Moderator: Eduard Fosch Villaronga (Leiden University)

15:15-16:45: Climate Change Parallel Session (B0.32 KOG)

  • Dr. Eliana Cusato (University of Amsterdam): ‘Of violence and (invisibility): the
    securitisation of climate change in international law’
  • Dr. Philip Paiement (Tilburg University): ‘Narratives of vulnerability in climate
    change litigation'
  • Dr. Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh (Leiden University): ‘Climate justice (and
    human rights) through the courts’
  • Federica Violi (Erasmus University): ‘Distributive climate justice across fields:
    climate change and human rights ‘claims’ in the context of international investment
    Moderator: Matthew Canfield (Leiden University)

15:15-16:45: COVID-19 Parallel Session (B0.30 KOG)

  • Dr. Julie Fraser (Utrecht University): ‘Crises, COVID and culture’
  • Dr. Katrien Klep (Leiden University): ‘Children’s rights in times of crisis: the
    role of Children’s Ombudsmen in the Covid-19 pandemic’
  • Dr. Jan-Peter Loof (Leiden University)
  • Prof. Marijke ter Voert (Radboud University): ‘The impact of the corona crisis
    on the handling of court hearings in criminal, alien and youth protection cases’
    Moderator: Suzy Duivenvoorde (Leiden University)

16:45-17:00: Tea break (B0.13 KOG)

17:00-18:00: Keynote speech and Q&A (A1.44 KOG) 
Keynote speech by Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. Given this year's theme 'Human rights in (times of) crisis,' Milatović will share valuable insights on her work as Commissioner to ensure that States uphold their obligations to protect, respect and fulfill human rights.
Moderator: Prof. Tarlach McGonagle (University of Amsterdam / Leiden University).

18:00-19:00: Reception (Legal Cafe) 


The Toogdag 2022 is hosted by:




Conference Partner: