UCL Labour Rights Institute (LRI)

UCL Labour Rights Institute

UCL Labour Rights Institute

Colm O'Cinneide  

BCL LLM LLM BL (King's Inns)
Reader in Laws

contact details:
Phone: +44 (0)20 7679 1420 | Internal: x21420
Email: c.o'cinneide@ucl.ac.uk

Colm O'Cinneide is a Reader in Law, specialising in human rights, comparative constitutional and anti-discrimination law. He is also currently Vice-President of the European Committee of Social Rights and a member of the Blackstone Chambers Academic Panel. Colm has served as specialist legal adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament and has also acted as consultant to a range of organisations, including the Northern Irish Human Rights Commission, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Irish Equality Authority.

Current research interests include equality and anti-discrimination law, comparative constitutional law, and human rights law. Current publications being completed include papers on the constitutional ‘place’ of equality within EU law, the possibilities of giving effective legal protection to socio-economic rights and the impact of human rights norms on national constitutional systems. Colm is also currently the principal investigator for a research study generously funded by the Nuffield Foundation which explores the integration of equality and human rights institutions across the EU – more information on this project is available at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-rights/ihr-news/2012/colm-nuffield.

Appointments and Membership of Expert Bodies

  • Specialist Legal Adviser (Equalities) to the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights 2007-10
  • Member (now Vice-President), European Committee of Social Experts, Council of Europe, 2006-
  • Member, Blackstone Chambers Academic Panel 2006-
  • Co-editor, Current Legal Problems 2005-2010
  • Age Equality Co-ordinator, EU Expert Group on Mapping Anti-Discrimination Law in Areas Outside of Employment and Occupation, 2006
  • UK country expert, EU Network of Legal Experts in the Non-discrimination Field, 2005-2009
  • Member, Review of the Working Methods of the European Court of Human Rights - the ‘Woolf Review’, 2005
  • Member, UK Task Force on the Establishment of a Commission for Equality and Human Rights 2003-2005



  • Discrimination Law: Theory and Context (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2008) (co-written with Maleiha Malik and Nicholas Bamforth).
  • Tort Law: Text, Cases and Materials (6th ed.) (Oxford: OUP, 2008) (co-written with Martin Matthews and Jonathan Morgan.


  • ‘Human Rights Law in the UK – Is There a Need for Fundamental Reform?’ (2013) European Human Rights Law Review [forthcoming].
  • ‘”The People Are the Masters” – The Paradox of Constitutionalism and the Uncertain Status of Popular Sovereignty within the Irish Constitutional Order’ (2012) Irish Jurist [forthcoming].
  • ‘The Uncertain Foundations of Contemporary Anti-discrimination Law’ (2011) 11 (2) International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 7-28.
  • ‘Age Discrimination and the European Court of Justice: EU Equality Law Comes of Age’ (2009-10) 2 Revue des Affaires Européennes 253-276.
  • ‘Human Rights and within Multi-Layered Systems of Constitutional Governance: Rights Cosmopolitanism and Domestic Particularism in Tension’, (2010) Irish Yearbook of International Law, forthcoming – also available in draft form as a University College Dublin Law Research Paper No. 12/2009.
  • ‘Aspirations Unfulfilled: The Equality Right in Irish Law’ (2010) 1(1) Irish Human Rights Law Journal.
  • Bringing Socio-economic Rights Back within the Mainstream’ (2009) 13(1) Revista Europea de Derechos Fundamentales 259-99.
  •  ‘A Modest Proposal: Destitution, State Responsibility and the European Convention on Human Rights’ (2008) 5 European Human Rights Law Review 583-605.
  • ‘Controlling the “Gorgon” of State Power in the State of Exception: A Reply to Professor Tushnet’ (2008) 3(4) International Journal of Law in Context 289-303.  
  • ‘The Commission For Equality And Human Rights: A New Institution For New And Uncertain Times’ (2007) 36(2) Industrial Law Journal 141-162.
  • ‘Fumbling Towards Coherence: The Slow Evolution of Equality Law in England and Wales’ (2006) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 57-102.
  • ‘Positive Action and the Limits of the Law’ (2006) Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 351-365.
  • “Positive Duties and Gender Equality” [2005] International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 91-119.
  • ‘Concerns and Ideas about our Developing Law of Privacy (and how knowledge of foreign law might be of help)’, co-authored with B. Markesinis, J. Fedtke and M. Henin-Hunter; 52 American Journal of Comparative Law (2004) 133-208
  • ‘Democracy and Rights: New Directions in the Human Rights Era’ [2004] 57 Current Legal Problems 175-211.
  • ‘Third-Party Interventions: The Public Interest Re-affirmed’, co-authored with Mona Arshi, [2004] Public Law 69-77.
  • Taking Horizontal Effect Seriously: Private Law, Constitutional Rights and The European Convention on Human Rights’ [2003] 4 Hibernian Law Journal 77-108. 
  • ‘Positive Action to Promote Women in Politics: Some European Comparisons’ (2003) 53 International Comparative Law Quarterly 587-614, co-authored with Meg Russell.
  • ‘The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000’ (2001) Public Law 220-232

Book Chapters

  • ‘Horizontal Effect/State Action’, in M. Tushnet, T. Fleiner and C. Saunders (eds), Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law (Routledge, Oxford 2012) [forthcoming] (co-authored with Manfred Stelzer).
  • ‘A Common Floor of Rights Protection? The Belfast Agreement, “equivalence of rights” and the North-South dimension’, in C. McGrattan and E. Meehan (eds.), Everyday Life After the Irish Conflict: The Impact of Devolution and Cross-border Cooperation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012) [forthcoming].
  • ‘Social Rights and the European Social Charter – New Challenges and Fresh Opportunities’, in O. De Schutter (ed.) The European Social Charter: A Social Constitution for Europe (Brussels: Bruylant, 2010).
  • ‘A Million Mutinies Now': Why Claims of Cultural Uniqueness Cannot be Used to Justify Violations of Basic Human Rights’, in D. Oliver (ed.) Justice, Legality and the Rule of Law: Some Lessons From the Pitcairn Prosecutions (Oxford: OUP, 2009)131-56.
  • 'Positive Action' in Y. Lee and J. Goldschmidt (eds.) Comparative Perspectives on Chinese and European Anti-Discrimination Law (Beijing: China University of Law and Politics, 2009), Ch. 10.
  • ‘The New Human Rights Culture’, in R. Hazel and M. Glover (eds.) Constitutional Futures Revisited (London: Palgrave, 2008), 159-177.
  • ‘Equality, Irish Law and the ECHR’, in U. Kilkelly (ed.) The ECHR and Irish Law (2nd ed.) (Jordans, 2008).
  • ‘Extracting Protection for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from Human Rights Frameworks:  Established Limits and New Possibilities’, in O. Mjöll Arnardóttir and G. Quinn (eds.), The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:  European and Scandinavian Perspectives (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2008).
  • ‘The European Convention On Human Rights And The Irish Constitutional System Of Rights Protection: Complementary Or Divergent?’, in E. Carolan and O. Doyle (eds.) The Irish Constitution: Governance and Values (Dublin: Thomson Round Hall, 2008), 507-530.
  • ‘Strapped to the Mast: The Siren Song of Dreadful Necessity, the UK Human Rights Act and the Terrorist Threat’, in M. Gani and P. Mathew, Fresh Perspectives on the ‘War on Terror’ (Canberra: ANU Press, 2008), 327-60.
  • ‘Grasping The Nettle: Irish Constitutional Law And Direct Horizontal Effect’, in J. Fedtke and D. Oliver, Human Rights and the Private Sphere, UT Austin Studies in Foreign and Transnational Law (London: Cavendish, 2007).
  • ‘Age Discrimination and Irish Equality Law', in E. O’Dell (ed.) Older People in Modern Ireland: Essays on Law and Policy, (Dublin: Ashgate, 2005).
  • ‘A New Generation of Equality Legislation? Positive Duties and Disability Rights’, in A. Lawson and C. Gooding, Disability Rights in Europe (Oxford: Hart, 2005), 219-248.
  • ‘Comparative European Perspectives on Age Discrimination Legislation’, in S. Fredman and S. Spencer, Age as an Equality Issue (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2003), 195-218.
  •  ‘The Effective Protection of Socio-Economic Rights’, co-written with Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC in Y. Ghai and J. Cotterill (eds.) The Role of Judges in Implementing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (London: Interights, 2004), 17-23, cited by the UK Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 21st report, 2003-04, HC 1188, p. 24.
  • ‘Citizenship and Multiculturalism: Equality, Rights and Diversity in Contemporary Europe’, in G. Titley (ed.) Resituating Culture (Strasbourg: Council of Europe: 2004) 43-56.
  • ‘Making Use of Positive Equality Duties: The UK Experience’, in C. Costello and E. Barry (eds.) Equality in Diversity: The New Equality Directives (Dublin: Irish Centre for European Law, 2003), 75-99

Other Publications

  • Human Rights and the UK Constitution (London: British Academy, 2012).
  • The Human Rights Act and the Slow Transformation of the UK’s ‘Political Constitution', UCL Institute for Human Rights, 2012.
  • The Place of Equal Opportunities in the Devolution Settlement: A Legal Analysis, Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report No. 33, Glasgow, 2009.
  • Commentary, ‘European Social Charter and Disability Rights’, in L. Waddington and G. Quinn (eds.) European Yearbook of Disability Law (Intersentia, 2009/10).
  • ‘Age Discrimination and Mandatory Retirement’ (2008) European Discrimination Law Review, vol. 6/7, 13-21.
  • ‘The Right to Equality: A Substantive Legal Norm or Vacuous Rhetoric?’ (2008) UCL Student Human Rights Journal.
  • ‘The Right to Strike and the European Social Charter’ (2008) Federation News (Institute for Employment Rights, London).
  • Entries on equality and human rights topics, including ‘the Human Rights Act 1998’, ‘integration’, ‘positive discrimination’ and ‘indirect discrimination’ in P. Cane and J. Conaghan (eds.) The New Oxford Companion to Law (Oxford: OUP, 2008).
  • The Place of Equality in a Bill of Rights’ (2008) 4(2) Justice Journal 19-28. 
  • ‘Purpose Clauses – Giving Coherence and Direction to Anti-discrimination Law’ (2007) Discrimination Law Association Briefings 456-467, November 2007, 3-5.
  • ‘What a Bill of Rights Can and Cannot Achieve’ (2006) 2 NIHRC Review 5.
  • ‘The Commission for Equality and Human Rights’ (2007) Federation News (Institute for Employment Rights, London), 25-31.
  • Equivalence of Rights and the Belfast Agreement (Dublin: Equality Authority, 2005), pp. 1-64.
  • Age Discrimination and European Law (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities/European Commission, 2005), pp. 1-57, available at http://www.migpolgroup.com/publications_detail.php?id=166
  • Taking Equal Opportunities Seriously: The Extension of Positive Duties to Promote Equality (London: Equality and Diversity Forum/Equal Opportunities Commission, December 2003), 120 pp., cited by UK Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, Commission for Equality and Human Rights: Structures, Functions and Powers, 11th report, 2004-05, HC 536, p. 15.
  • Single Equality Bodies: Lessons from Aboard (Manchester: EOC Research Paper Series, November 2002), 92 pp.
  • Our House? Race and Representation in British Politics, co-written with Rushanara Ali, (London: Institute for Public Policy Research, April 2002), 105 pp.
  • ‘Equality Commissions’ (2005) 3(1) International Labour Brief (in Korean), 53-65. 
  • “Democracy: Which Way Now?”, in Connections (London: CRE, 2004)

Major Conference Papers

  • Natural Justice and the Rule of Law’, Renmin University, Beijing, China 26th October 2012.
  • ‘Social Right in Europe’, University of Trier, 12th October 2012.
  • ‘Disability Rights as Social Rights’, Harvard Law School, 3rd September 2012.
  • ‘The Slow Transformation of the UK Constitutional Order’, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, 30 January 2012.
  • ‘Protection Against Race Discrimination in UK and European Law’, Anglo-Indian Judicial Colloquium on Equality and Anti-discrimination Law, New Delhi, 29-30th January 2011.
  • ‘Socio-economic Rights in Europe’, Workshop on Socio-economic Rights, co-hosted by the Facultad de Derecho of the Universidad de Los Andes, and the Project on Human Rights and the Global Economy, Northeastern University School of Law, Bogota, 14-15th May 2010.
  • ‘Positive Action and the Limits of European Anti-discrimination Law’, invited paper, European University Institute, Florence, 15th February 2010.
  • ‘Social Rights’, paper presented to the Russian Ministry for Health and Social Development and to representatives of the Council of the Russian Federation, Moscow, November 2008.
  • ‘The European Social Charter’, paper presented to the Latvian Ministry for Social Affairs, Riga, April 2008.
  • ‘The Justiciability of Socio-economic Rights’, seminar organised by Amnesty International Austria in conjunction with the Austrian Ministry for External Relations and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of the University of Vienna, Vienna, March 2008.
  • ‘Positive Action and Positive Duties’, paper presented at the KILDEN conference on equality, Oslo, November 2007.
  • ‘Disability Rights and European Human Rights Systems’, paper delivered at a conference organised by Reykjavik University and the Icelandic Human Rights Centre, on the theme of ‘The Human Rights of Persons With Disabilities – From Social Policy to Equal Rights’, September 2007.
  • ‘European Perspectives on the Right to Health’, paper delivered at the Open Society Institute conference, ‘Equal Partners: Health and Human Rights’, Cape Town, South Africa, June 2007.
  • ‘Positive Action and the Limits of the Law’ and ‘Law Enforcement Institutions and Anti-discrimination Law in the UK’, papers delivered at a conference organised by the Chinese University of Law and Politics, Beijing, March 2007.
  • ‘Strapped to the Mast – Human Rights and Anti-Terrorism Law’, paper delivered at the Australian National University, Canberra, April 2006, as part of an international forum on “Ensuring Accountability – Terrorist Challenges and State Responses in a Free Society”.
  • ‘Using the Human Rights Act to Enforce Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’, paper presented to an International Conference on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Models of Enforcement, Dublin, December 2005, hosted by the Irish Human Rights Commission.
  • ‘UK Approaches to Anti-discrimination Law’, a series of papers presented in Vienna, Prague and Florence as part of a European Commission funded project, co-ordinated by the University of Florence and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, University of Vienna, 2003-05.
  • ‘Age Discrimination and EU Law’, paper presented to a conference hosted by the European Commission in Brussels, October 2005.
  • ‘Positive Duties and Mainstreaming’, paper presented in Aix-Les-Bains, Luxembourg, at a conference organised and hosted by the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU, June 2005.
  • ‘Equality Law in the UK – New Directions’, paper presented to the Swedish National Integration Office (Integrationsverket), Norrköping, Sweden, May 2005.
  • ‘Equality Duties’, paper presented to the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Institut for Menneskerettigheder), May 2004.
  • ‘Equality Commissions and Strategic Litigation’, paper presented at an British Council event, Belfast, December 2003.
  • ‘Beyond the Limits of Equal Treatment: The Use of Positive Duties in Equality Law’, paper delivered at the ‘Mainstreaming Equality: Models for a Statutory Duty’ conference, Dublin 28th February 2003, hosted by the Irish Equality Authority.


Media commentary for the following outlets from 2002 to the present time:

BBC Radio 4
ITN News
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News
Australian Broadcasting Corporation News
TV Arte (Fance/Germany)
RTE News (Ireland)
Associated Press
The Guardian
The Independent
The Irish Times

UK Constitutional Law Blog
Human Rights in Ireland Blog

Current Teaching
Employment Law

Comparative Human Rights
European Labour Rights in an International Context
Gender, Law and the State

Ph.D Supervision
Colm O'Cinneide welcomes approaches for supervision from prospective PhD students.


This page last modified 23 January, 2014 by Laws Webmaster