School of Law

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Aoife Nolan

Professor of International Human Rights Law, Faculty of Social Sciences



Aoife Nolan, LL.B (Dublin), PhD (EUI), joined the School of Law as Professor of International Human Rights Law in 2012. On 30 November 2016, Aoife was elected as an independent expert to the Council of Europe's European Committee of Social Rights, the leading European monitoring mechanism on economic and social rights. She is also Director of the Human Rights Law Centre's Economic and Social Rights Unit. From 2015-2018, Aoife co-directed the Rights and Justice Research Priority Area, the world's largest cluster of rights and justice scholars, involving over 700 members from 22 different University centres. From 2013-15, she was Academic Lead of the interdisciplinary University of Nottingham Children and Childhood Network and the Nottingham Summer School on Child Rights. In December 2017, Aoife was appointed to the Scottish First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership (report here). She is an Academic Expert member of Doughty Street Chambers.

She has published extensively in the area of human rights, particularly in relation to economic and social rights and children's rights, as well as on constitutional law. Her 2011 monograph Children's Socio-economic Rights, Democracy and the Courts won the IALT Kevin Boyle Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Birks Book Prize. She was founding coordinator of the Economic and Social Rights Academic Network UKI (ESRAN-UKI) and has been a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Academic Network on the European Social Charter (ANESC-RACSE). She is a member of a number of Editorial Boards, including those of the Human Rights Law Review, the International Human Rights Law Review and the International Journal of Children's Rights.

In 2017, Aoife was PI on an ESRC IAA-funded collaborative project, 'Making Economic and Social Rights Real', between the University of Nottingham and the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain. This project generated a series of digital resources on economic and social rights, including videos, directed towards civil society, policymakers, academics and others with a background in human rights and an interest in learning more about economic and social rights. These are available here, while individual episodes can be linked to from here.

In addition to previous full-time positions at Durham Law School and Queen's University Belfast (where she co-managed a ground-breaking project on human rights budget analysis), she has taught at a range of international institutions, including the Geneva Academy on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, the University of Groningen and the Global School on Socio-economic Rights at Harvard University and the University of Oslo. During the course of her research work, she has been a Visiting Foreign Scholar at Fordham University School of Law, New York, a Visiting Research Fellow at Columbia University Law School, New York, and Thomas Addis Emmet Fellow in Public Interest Law at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2013, she was a Visiting Researcher at the Socio-economic Rights and Administrative Justice Project, Faculty of Law, Stellenbosch University and Visiting Research Professor at the Centre for Children's Rights, School of Education, Queen's University Belfast. In 2015, she was a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law and Criminology at the Université Catholique de Louvain and, in 2017, a Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW Law and a Hauser Senior Global Research Fellow at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law.

Aoife has worked with and acted as an expert advisor to a wide range of international and national organisations and bodies working on human rights issues, including UN Special Procedures, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Council of Europe, the World Bank and multiple national human rights institutions. Her research has been cited extensively by international human rights actors, including OHCHR, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, the UN Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on human rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health.

She has served as Senior Legal Officer with the ESC Rights Litigation Programme of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. In 2007-8, she was Human Rights Adviser to the Working Group on Economic and Social Rights, including Relevant Equality Issues of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. In early 2008, she provided legal advice to members of the International NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. She is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the ESCR-Net Case-Law Database. She has been an advisor to, amongst others, UNICEF UK, the Children's Commissioner for England, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Right to Education Project. She was a founding trustee of Just Fair: Justice and Fairness through Human Rights.

Details of Aoife's media activities can be found here.

Teaching Summary

Economic and Social Rights

Regional Human Rights Law

International Human Rights Law

Children's Rights

Law, Development and the International Community

UK Public Law

Research Summary

For more information on Aoife's research, please see her SSRN Author page:

A selection of presentations given by Aoife can be found below:

'A Clear and Present Danger? Child Rights and the SDGs' (presentation given at University of Liverpool (May 2019)

'Making Economic and Social Rights Real' (series of videos resulting from ESRC IAA-funded collaboration with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (December 2017)

'Human Rights in Budget-making' (from 18:54 on) (presentation given at Scottish Human Rights Commssion Scotland's National Human Rights Action Plan Innovation Symposium (February 2015))

'Models of Constitutional Economic, Social and Cultural Rights' (presentation given at Irish Conventional Constitution meeting on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Dublin (February 2014))

'Human Rights, Constitutions and Austerity' (presentation given at Amnesty International Ireland Conference A Deficit of Protection - Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Ireland, Dublin (November 2012))

'The Human Rights Impacts of the Economic Crisis' (interview given at conference New Horizons on Economic and Social Rights Monitoring, Madrid (March 2012))

Migrants' Access to Goods and Services in the Context of International Human Rights Law' (presentation given at Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford (February 2012))

Follow Aoife Nolan on Twitter @commentator01

Recent Publications

  • A. NOLAN, 2020. Poverty and Child Rights. In: J. TODRES and S. KING, eds., Oxford Handbook of Children's Rights OUP. (In Press.)
  • AOIFE NOLAN, 2019. Article 27 - The Right to An Adequate Standard of Living. In: JOHN TOBIN, ed., The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Commentary, Oxford University Press. 1021-1054
  • AOIFE NOLAN, 2018. Children's Economic and Social Rights. In: URSULA KILKELLY and TON LIEFAARD, eds., International Law on the Rights of the Child Springer. 239-258
  • AOIFE NOLAN, 2018. Privatization and Economic and Social Rights Human Rights Quarterly. 80(4), 815-858

PhD supervision

I am interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • children's rights
  • economic and social rights
  • international human rights
  • women's rights
  • comparative constitutional human rights law

Current PhD Students include:

Information about the School of Law PhD programme and how to apply can be found here:

Information about scholarships can be found here:

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