ELSA Day: an annual international initiative encouraging discussions on underrepresented topics

updated on 20 November 2020

ELSA Day, taking place on Wednesday 25 November, is an annual event organised by the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) (International) in collaboration with the Council of Europe. This year’s topic is ‘Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights’.

Running across ELSA’s network of 44 countries, the initiative is designed to get communities talking about human rights issues that deserve more attention.

ELSA UK’s local groups have been running events throughout November, including panel discussions, webinars, essay competitions and legal debates to encourage critical discussion on this year’s topic.

ELSA Nottingham has received support from ELSA’s international network in the form of Council of Europe Visibility Materials on ‘Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights: Responsibilities of a New Era!’. The senior research officer at the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project Dr Sabrina Rau will be the speaker at this event on Wednesday 25 November.

In collaboration with ELSA Birmingham, ELSA UK is running an essay competition on ‘Human Rights in the Technological Era’. The competition’s deadline is Monday 7 December and is open for entries from people across the country. Applicants must send their submissions to [email protected] The winning essay will be published on ELSA UK’s official platforms and in the University of Birmingham Law School’s newsletter. ELSA Aberdeen is also running an essay competition for its members.

Other events that have taken place include ELSA Durham’s panel discussion in collaboration with SolidariTee – a charity raising awareness of refugee issues and human rights – and its EU Career Fair. ELSA QMUL is running a video presentation competition with entrants discussing the following topic: ‘Given the values Human Rights seek to protect, could such rights become applicable to AI?’.

Earlier in the month, ELSA Bristol was joined by speakers from Herbert Smith Freehills and Starling Bank for a webinar on AI and Human Rights.

On top of the local group events, a new initiative called ELSA4Schools will be launched. The aim of this project is to provide an accessible and educational discussion on topics that are of importance to school children. It will involve trained volunteers from local groups ELSA Nottingham and ELSA Bristol visiting both primary and secondary schools within their area to deliver “interactive, student-centred non-formal” sessions via simulations, competitions, games and social media.