Global Governance Institute


Brian Dooley

Brian Dooley has joined the UCL Global Governance Institute (GGI) as a Visiting Scholar.


Brian Dooley PhD is an author and human rights consultant specialising in issues of transnational civil rights and Human Rights Defenders. He is currently Senior Advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, and to the US-based NGO Human Rights First. For 16 years he held a variety of posts at Amnesty International, including on research teams in Lebanon during the 2006 war and the Gaza conflict in 2008/09. He has written several books on political identity and civil rights, and has long experience in advocating on Human Rights Defender issues, including testifying in various European parliaments and in the US Congress, writing and commentating for, and appearing on, international media including the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, and Al Jazeera. He was a Visiting Scholar 2019/20 at the Law School of Fordham University, New York. He has authored dozens of reports on Human Rights Defender issues following in-country research in countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Hong Kong, Hungary, Kenya, Ukraine, and The United Arab Emirates. Recent research includes writing public reports on attacks on human rights lawyers in Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and elsewhere, and an investigation into ISIS recruitment in Egyptian prisons.

Research interests

My research increasingly focuses on where governments, businesses, and the UN system are succeeding and failing to protect Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).  Advising the UN mandate on HRDs means researching and sharing useful practices, most recently in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific areas of interest include the online and offline threats that often precede attacks on HRDs, including their murder, and the fate of HRDs sentenced to long terms in prison. Working with UCL colleagues I aim to produce practical assessments of protection mechanisms, including how the UN’s Universal Period Review system might be better used by HRDs. I will engage closely with the UCL Global Governance Institute, as well as the MA in Human Rights programme at the Department of Political Science to both share expertise from the perspective of a practitioner and to learn from the students’ research and experience.