Feb 20 2012 Posted: 09:50 GMT

Diarmuid Griffin 

Peer-reviewed article by Diarmuid Griffin and Ian O'Donnell (UCD), “The Life Sentence and Parole” (2012) The British Journal of Criminology. Online version available here:http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/01/27/bjc.azr097.


Taking the life sentence as the new ‘ultimate penalty’ for many countries, this paper explores the factors associated with the release of life-sentence prisoners on parole. The Republic of Ireland is selected as a case study because it is in the unusual position of being influenced by European human rights norms as well as by the Anglo-American drive towards increased punitiveness. As an apparent outlier to both the human rights and punitive approaches, or perhaps as a hybrid of sorts, the relative impact of the two models can be elucidated. The article also provides an example of how small penal systems can be resistant to broader trends and the value of directing the criminological gaze upon countries where it seldom falls. 

Shivaun Quinlivan

Peer-reviewed article by Shivaun Quinlivan, “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: An Introduction” (2012) (13)(1) ERA Forum. Online version available at:http://www.springerlink.com/content/1612-3093


The European Union for the first time ratified an international human rights treaty: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Such ratification will undoubtedly impact on EU law, and importantly on the position of people with disabilities in Europe and further afield. The Convention has been described as embodying the ‘paradigm shift’, being revolutionary and groundbreaking. This paper will assess the content of the Convention, addressing the innovative general principles, the means of implementation as well the substantive rights contained in the Convention.

Laurent Pech

Peer-reviewed study by Dr. Laurent Pech, “Rule of Law as a Guiding Principle of the EU’s External Action”, CLEER Working Papers 2012/3, 56 pages. Online version available here: http://www.asser.nl/Default.aspx?site_id=26&level1=14467&level2=14468


This paper aims to offer a comprehensive overview of how the EU promotes the rule of law abroad and to discuss the EU’s normative effectiveness as an ‘exporter’ of values and principles. It is argued that the EU, when acting as an exporter of values, tends to pay little attention to conceptual issues and largely equates the rule of law with a soft ideal whose content is largely delineated on a case-by-case basis. It is contended, however, that the EU is not exporting a vague or incoherent ideal. In the final part of this paper, the EU’s role as an exporter of values and principles will be examined from two angles: the normative impact of EU rule of law policies and actions at the international level and their effectiveness. Two main points will be made. Firstly, as an international standard-setter, the EU cannot claim great successes but this can be directly linked to an apparent lack of interest in conceptualisation issues and the fact that the EU promotes a conception that is largely consensual amongst the foremost international organisations. Secondly, the EU should consider taking into account the multiple indexes, checklists and other indicators which have been developed to measure and monitor countries’ adherence to the rule of law in order to better identify shortcomings, suggest appropriate reforms and track progress (or lack thereof) in a less impressionistic and uncoordinated manner than is currently the case.

Law School, NUI Galway