Colm O’Cinneide

Colm O’Cinneide

BCL LLM LLM BL (King's Inns)

Chair, LLM Faculty Board of Examiners, Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law

+44 (0)20 3108 8361

Colm O’Cinneide is Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at UCL and has published widely in the fields of constitutional and public law, discrimination law, human rights law and EU law. He is a member of the European Committee of Social Rights (having served as Vice-President of the Committee from 2008-12 and its General Rapporteur from 2012-4) and a member of the Blackstone Chambers Academic Panel since 2006. Colm has also acted as an expert legal consultant for a range of organisations, including the European Commission, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, and served as specialist legal adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament (2007-10). He is a member of the editorial boards of Current Legal Problems, the International Journal of Law in Context, Race and Social Problems and the Irish Jurist, among other publications: he has also acted as an assessor for the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and as external examiner for a range of institutions.


At present, Colm has a particular research interest in the evolving framework of EU anti-discrimination law, the development of ‘social constitutionalism’ as reflected in the move to make socio-economic rights legally enforceable in a range of states across the globe, and the issues that arise with respect to the democratic legitimacy of international human rights law. He is open to supervision requests in relation to these and other topics relating to anti-discrimination, human rights and constitutional law.



  • The Changing Constitution (8th ed.) (Oxford: OUP, 2015), co-edited with Jeffrey Jowell and Dawn Oliver.
  • Discrimination Law: Theory and Context (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2008) (co-written with Maleiha Malik and Nicholas Bamforth).
  • Hepple and Matthews on Tort Law: Text, Cases and Materials (6th ed.) (Oxford: OUP, 2008) (co-written with Martin Matthews and Jonathan Morgan).


  • ‘Rights Under Pressure’ (2017) 1 European Human Rights Law Review 43-48.
  • ‘Justifying Discrimination Law’ (2016) 36(4) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2016) 909-928.
  • ‘The Catalytic Potential of Equality and Human Rights Commissions’ (2016) 24(1) Journal of Poverty and Social Justice 7-20.
  • ‘The Constitutionalization of Equality within the EU Legal Order: Sexual Orientation as a Testing Ground’ (2015) 22 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 370-395.
  • ‘”Zones of Constitutionalisation” and the Regulation of State Power: The Missing Social Dimension to the Irish Constitutional Order’ (2015) 37 Dublin University Law Journal 322-347.
  • ‘Defining the Limits of Discrimination Law in the UK – Principle and Pragmatism in Tension’, co-authored with Kimberly Liu, (2014) 14(4) International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 239-265.
  • ‘The Growing Importance of Age Equality’ (2013) 11 Equal Rights Review 99-110.
  • ‘“The People Are the Masters” – The Paradox of Constitutionalism and the Uncertain Status of Popular Sovereignty within the Irish Constitutional Order’ (2012) Irish Jurist 249-274.
  • ‘Human Rights Law in the UK – Is There a Need for Fundamental Reform?’ (2012) 6 European Human Rights Law Review 595-607.
  •  ‘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 19-44.
  • ‘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

  • ‘Saying “No” to Strasbourg: When Are National Parliaments Justified in Refusing to Give Effect to Judgments of International Human Rights Courts?’, in M. Saul, A. Follesdal, and G. Ulfstein, The International Human Rights Judiciary and National Parliaments: Europe and Beyond (OUP, 2017, forthcoming).
  • ‘Commentary: MhicMhathúna v Attorney General’, in M. Enright et al, Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity(London: Hart, 2017) 137-146.
    ‘The European Social Charter and EU Labour Law’, in A. Bogg et al, Research Handbook on EU Labour Law (Elgar, 2016), forthcoming.
  • ‘Litigating Disability Rights’, co-written with Bruce Porter, in M. Stein and M. Langford (eds.) Disability Social Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), forthcoming.
  • ‘The Social Dimension of ECHR Rights – Escaping the Dead Hand of Orthodoxy’, in J. Casadevall et al. (eds.) Essays in Honour of Dean Spielmann – Liber amicorum (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2015), 445-455.
  • ‘Values in the UK Constitution’, co-written with Jeffrey Jowell, in D. Davis, A. Richter and C. Saunders (eds.) An Inquiry into the Existence of Global Values: Through the Lens of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford: Hart, 2015), 357-392.
  • ‘Human Rights and the UK Constitution’, in J. Jowell, D. Oliver and C. O’Cinneide (eds.) The Changing Constitution (8th ed.) (Oxford: OUP, 2015), 67-103.
  •  ‘Constitutional and Fundamental Rights Aspects of Age Discrimination’, in M. Rönnmar and A. Numhauser-Henning (eds.), Age Discrimination and Labour Law (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2015), 51-69.
  •  ‘The Framework Equality Directive – Directive 2000/78/EC’, co-written with Kimberly Liu, in M. Schlachter (ed.) Commentary on EU Labour Law (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2014), 69-113.
  • ‘The Right to Work in International Human Rights Law’, in V. Mantouvalou (ed.) The Right to Work: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives (Oxford: Hart, 2015), 99-122.
  • ‘Migrant Rights under the European Social Charter’, in C. Costello and M. Freedland (eds.) Migrants at Work: Immigration and Vulnerability in Labour Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 290-314.
  • ‘Austerity and the Faded Dream of a Social Europe’, in A. Nolan (ed.) Economic and Social Rights after the Global Financial Crisis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 169-201.
  • ‘The Problematic of Social Rights – Uniformity and Diversity in the Development of Social Rights Review’, in L. Lazarus, C. McCrudden and N. Bowles (eds.), Reasoning Rights: Comparative Judicial Engagement (Oxford: Hart, 2014), 297-315.
  • ‘Article 25 and the Rights of the Elderly’, in S. Peers et al. (eds.) The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: A Commentary (Oxford: Hart, 2014), 693-708.
  • ‘Legal Accountability and Social Justice’, in P. Leyland and N. Bamforth (eds.) Accountability in Public Law (Oxford: OUP, 2013), 389-409.
  • ‘Completing the Picture – The Complex Relationship between EU Anti-discrimination Law and “Social Europe”’, in N. Countouris and M. Freedland (eds.) Resocialising Europe (Oxford: OUP, 2013), 118-137.
  • ‘Horizontal Effect/State Action’, in M. Tushnet, T. Fleiner and C. Saunders (eds), Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law (Routledge, Oxford 2012) (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) 135-149.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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.

Refereed Research Papers

  • ’Equality and Non-discrimination Rights within the Framework of the European Social Charter’ (2015) 1 European Equality Law Review 1-13.
  • ‘Bridging the Divide? Integrating the Functions of National Equality Bodies and National Human Rights Institutions in the European Union (co-written with Neil Crowther), a study funded by the Nuffield Foundation (Grant AJU/40464), available online at
  • The Evolution and Impact of the Case-Law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC (Brussels: European Commission/Migrant Policy Group, 2012), available at
  • Human Rights and the UK Constitution (London: British Academy, 2012), available at Human rights and the UK constitution – British Academy.
  • The Human Rights Act and the Slow Transformation of the UK’s ‘Political Constitution’, UCL Institute for Human Rights, 2012, available at
  •  The Place of Equal Opportunities in the Devolution Settlement: A Legal Analysis, Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report No. 33, Glasgow, 2009, available at Research report 33: The place of equal opportunities in the devolution settlement: a legal analysis | Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • ‘Age Discrimination and Mandatory Retirement’ (2008) European Discrimination Law Review, vol. 6/7, 13-21.
  • ‘Purpose Clauses – Giving Coherence and Direction to Anti-discrimination Law’ (2007) Discrimination Law Association Briefings 456-467, November 2007, 3-5.
  • Equivalence of Rights and the Belfast Agreement (Dublin: Equality Authority, 2005), pp. 1-64, available at
  • Age Discrimination and European Law (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities/European Commission, 2005), pp. 1-57, available at
  • 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.

Media and Blogging

Media and occasional blogging commentary for the following outlets:

BBC Radio 4

ITN News

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News

Australian Broadcasting Corporation News

TV Arte (France/Germany)

RTE News (Ireland)


The Guardian

The Independent

The Irish Times

UK Constitutional Law Blog

Human Rights in Ireland Blog

Oxford Human Rights Hub

Personal Twitter Feed – @colmocinneide