The renowned UN human rights expert, Professor Michael O’Flaherty FRSA, has been appointed as Professor of Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland Galway. He will also serve as Director of the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Professor O’Flaherty will combine the new roles with his current commitment as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. During the period that Professor O’Flaherty remains at the Northern Ireland Commission the Irish Centre for Human Rights will be co-directed by Professor Ray Murphy.
Since October 2011, Professor O’Flaherty has been Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The Commission advises the government and is responsible for protecting and promoting human rights throughout Northern Ireland. It is also empowered to help people whose rights may have been denied and can carry out its own investigations.
Professor O’Flaherty has worked the UK university sector since 2003 as Professor of Applied Human Rights and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the School of Law in University of Nottingham.
A native of Galway, Professor O’Flaherty has a distinguished reputation in the human rights arena. Since 2004, he has been an elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is currently a Vice-Chairperson. He is also a member of the UN Expert Group on Human Rights Indicators, serves on a number of human rights advisory bodies of the UK government and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.
Professor O’Flaherty sits on committees of the European Roma Rights Centre, the Diplomacy Training Programme, the UN-UK Association, the World Organization Against Torture, the Hilde Back Education Fund and a number of other groups worldwide.
Prior to taking up his posts at the University of Nottingham, he served in a number of senior positions with the United Nations. He established the UN human rights field missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994) and Sierra Leone (1998) and subsequently guided UN headquarters support to its human rights programmes across the Asia-Pacific region.
National University of Ireland Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, welcomed the announcement: “Professor O’Flaherty brings an outstanding reputation to our School of Law and Irish Centre for Human Rights. Building on the strong foundations laid by his predecessor, Professor Bill Schabas, who retains an important connection with the Centre, Professor O’Flaherty will continue to develop the global reputation of the Centre for high quality academic programmes, leading edge research and engaged advocacy. Professor O’Flaherty brings a unique blend of academic skills and practical knowledge of human rights law which will enrich the teaching, research and outreach activities of the Centre.”
Since its establishment in January 2000, the Irish Centre for Human Rights has developed a global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy. Amongst the taught postgraduate programmes offered by the Centre are LL.M. in International Human Rights Law, Peace Operations and Humanitarian Law, and International Criminal Law. Additionally, under the auspices of the Law School, the Centre has built a strong doctoral studies programme, with a significant number of doctoral students supervised by individual staff members.
At undergraduate level, the Irish Centre for Human Rights is integral to the University’s BA with Human Rights. The degree is the only one of its kind in Ireland to offer a Human Rights qualification at undergraduate level.