Duration: Ongoing (With ICLAIM since 2022) 

Objective:To provide thought leadership and consultancy to support human rights, governance and the rule of law in small island jurisdictions.  

Founded by Director, Susie Alegre, a Manx international human rights lawyer, with associates from small islands around the world including the Caribbean, Europe, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, it provides a unique combination of expertise in public international law with a deep understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities of the small island context.

The Island Rights Initiative works with small island governments, civil society and NHRI’s as well as partnering with international human rights organisations and providing signposting to organisations with specific expertise.  Clients have included the Government of St Helena and Human Rights at Sea and the Island Rights Initiative has received grants from the Legal Education Foundation and the Joffe Trust to develop its research and organisational capacity.

Island communities are not isolated from global phenomena and often find themselves on the frontline of some of the biggest human rights challenges of our time. For small communities with limited diversification, some issues are existential threats for their societies. Their ability to innovate and to represent their interests on the international stage is crucial to their sustainability and their ability to protect the fundamental rights of their people and effectively achieve targets under a range of SDG Some of the areas the Island Rights Initiative and its Associates work on include:

  • Human Rights
  • Climate Change
  • Migration

Many small islands find themselves at the sharp end of the impact of climate change with rising sea levels and natural disasters posing a serious threat to the human rights of their people. Small islands are often the front line on dangerous migration routes and find themselves trying to manage complex human rights issues related to migrants’ rights with limited resources. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to engage internationally on global human rights issues that affect them.

Small communities often face challenges of capacity for implementation of international human rights standards. As lawyers and policy makers need to cover a huge range of issues, it can be difficult to stay on top of developments in all areas.  Island Rights Initiative provides consultancy, thought leadership and signposting in the following areas:

Business and Human Rights

Some small island economies are built on international businesses like international finance and shipping that have global human rights impacts. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to adapt to changing global standards in human rights and ensure that their economies drive human rights compliant business.

Island Rights Initiative works on human rights at home – engaging with small communities to protect and promote human rights.

Human Rights and Good Governance

Good governance is the key to real and effective protection of human rights. The models for accountability, oversight and access to justice that work in larger jurisdictions may be impractical in a small island context. Island Rights Initiative can help islands develop best practice in good governance and accountability that is tailored to their circumstances.

Human Rights Reporting and Implementation

  • Small administrations can struggle to meet the stringent reporting requirements of international human rights law or to implement human rights standards in a way that makes sense in a smaller setting. Island Rights Initiative can provide support for small island administrations and communities to meet international human rights standards at home.

    Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders

    For civil society, lawyers or individuals concerned about their human rights, it can often be challenging to raise concerns effectively in a small community. There can be difficulties in reaching out to challenge human rights violations in national, regional and international fora. Island Rights Initiative can provide guidance and signposting to people and organisations seeking to address human rights issues in small islands.

    ICLAIM Experts participating in this project:

    Susie Alegre, Nasia Hadjigeorgiou, Stephanie Laulhe-Shaelou

    Useful links: 

    Project website: www.islandrights.org