Students Staff

Academic Staff

Dr Eadaoin O'Brien BA (Hons.) LLM, MSc, PhD

Position in departmentCo-Director Human Rights Postgraduate Taught
Staff positionLecturer in Human Rights
Emaileobrien@essex.ac.uk
Telephone01206 873069
Room5S.6.3.
Biography

Dr. Éadaoin O'Brien co-directs the School of Law and Human Rights postgraduate taught programmes in human rights (LLM International Human Rights Law; LLM International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law; LLM Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights; MA Human Rights and Cultural Diversity) and teaches and researches in international human rights law, international criminal law and transitional justice. Prior to joining the Human Rights Centre in 2012 Éadaoin was a graduate fellow at the Human Rights Consortium at the University of London (2011-2012), where she is currently an associate fellow and before that completed her PhD on the topic of the exhumation of mass graves and use of forensic evidence by international criminal tribunals at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway. Éadaoin was a doctoral fellow at the ICHR from 2007-2008 and an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences postgraduate scholar from 2008 to 2010. In 2011 she was awarded an NUI Galway bursary. In addition Éadaoin holds a BA in Anthropology and Sociology (First Class Honours) from the National University of Ireland Maynooth, where she was co-recipient of the William Wilde Prize in Anthropology for her research on memorialisation of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in Belarus; a LLM in International Human Rights Law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights and a MSc in Human Identification from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee. Éadaoin's research is inter and multi-disciplinary and she has published in anthropological, legal and science publications on a range of issues relating to forensic science, human rights, criminal justice, transitional justice and post-disaster memorialisation and has delivered papers and presentations at over 30 national and international conferences. Éadaoin is a member of the editorial board of the journal Medicine, Science and the Law. Her current research focuses on post-mortem human rights and disaster victim identification and she is also a researcher on the inter-disciplinary ESRC large grant (£5 million) project on Technology, Big Data and Human Rights based at the University of Essex. Her human rights and criminal justice field experience includes work with the West-Bank based NGO Al Haq, the defence team for Momčilo Perišić at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague, and with Chernobyl Children International in Ireland and Belarus. Prior to becoming an academic Éadaoin spent a number of years working in social care, working with homeless street drinkers with De Paul Trust Ireland and with children in the care of the Irish Health Service Executive. Since August 2013 Éadaoin has assisted UK police in disaster victim identification through the inclusion and delivery of material on human rights on the UK National DVI Course in the Eastern region. Éadaoin is also an associate fellow at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) at the University of Dundee.

 

Qualifications

 PhD Human Rights Law (Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway); MSc Human Identification (University of Dundee); LLM International Human Rights Law (NUI Galway); BA (Hons.) Anthropology and Sociology (NUI Maynooth).

Current research

My current research focuses on human rights aspects of disaster victim identification

Research interests
  • The use of the forensic sciences (esp. forensic anthropology) in the protection of human rights
  • War crime investigations 
  • Mass grave exhumations, expert witnesses and the use of forensic evidence in international criminal trials
  • Enforced disappearances
  • Genocide, armed conflict and memorialisation
  • Transitional justice
  • Legal aspects of disaster victim identification (DVI)
Teaching responsibilities

2014/2015 Spring term: Module director and member of teaching team for the Honours Human Rights Colloquium module (UG)(HU300); Module director and member of teaching team for the International Criminal Law and Transitional Justice module (PG)(LW805); Contribute teaching to PG modules Human Rights Colloquium (HU901) and International Human Rights: Law, Institutions and Practice (LW901) (Module Director).

Publications

 Journal articles 

O’Brien E´, Nic Daeid N, Black S. 2015  Science in the court: pitfalls, challenges and solutions. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences  370: 20150062 (August 2015)

‘The Contribution of Forensic Anthropology to International Criminal Justice: Mass Grave Exhumations Conducted by United Nations International Criminal Tribunals’ (2010) 13(2) Irish Journal of Anthropology.

‘Remembering Chernobyl: Individual and Social Memories from Belarus’, (2006) 9(1) Irish Journal of Anthropology.

Book chapters

‘Forensic science, international criminal law, and the duties toward persons killed in war’ in D.P. Keane and Y. McDermott eds., The Challenge of Human Rights: Past, Present and Future, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012 (http://www.e-elgar.co.uk/bookentry_main.lasso?id=14653). 

‘The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the investigation of mass graves: Strengthening fair trial guarantees through the application of forensic science’ in Luciana Goisis and Querkin Berisha eds., Un Percorso Di Studio Sui Diritti Umani (2008 Pristina – Bergamo 2010), Bergamo: University of Bergamo Press, 2011.

Books 
What Future for Human Rights in a Non-Western World? co-editor with Simon Bennett, London: School of Advanced Study, 2012 (http://events.sas.ac.uk/support-research/publications/960).

Constructing Forensic Evidence for International Criminal Trials: Legal, Social and Scientific Approaches, Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, forthcoming.

Policy report 
In the Shadow of the ICC: Colombia and International Criminal Justice, Report of the expert conference examining the nature and dynamics of the role of the International Criminal Court in the ongoing investigation and prosecution of atrocious crimes committed in Colombia, co-editor with Par Engstrom and David Cantor, Human Rights Consortium: University of London, 2011 (http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/3206/1/ICC,_Colombia_and_International_Criminal_Justice_Conference_Report.pdf

Conferences/presentations

University of Lincoln, Uncertainty Remains: Challenges at the Scene, A workshop for the DVI Advisory Cadre of Senior Coroners, Invited Speaker, Presentation on Postmortem Rights after mass fatality incidents: applying the ECHR and HRA, Lincoln, September 2015

Open Society Foundation CSLA Pre-Academic Summer Program, Invited Speaker, Guest Lecture 'HUman Rights and Civil Society, Istanbul, August 2015

Essex Summer School in Human Rights Research Methods, Introduction, (with Lorna McGregor) Colchester, July 2015

University College Dublin, Human Rights Network Invited Speaker, Seminar entitled ‘Methodology in Human Rights Research: Using Ethnographic Methods’, Dublin, Ireland, April 2015

College of Policing National DVI Foundation Course, Suffolk Police, Guest Lectures ‘Postmortem examination of human remains: Relevant legislation’ and ‘Examination in the Mortuary: Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Ipswich, United Kingdom, April 2015

College of Policing National DVI Foundation Course, Norfolk Police, Guest Lectures ‘Postmortem examination of human remains: Relevant legislation’ and ‘Examination in the Mortuary: Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Norwich, United Kingdom, February 2015

College of Policing National DVI Foundation Course, Hertfordshire Police, Guest Lectures ‘Postmortem examination of human remains: Relevant legislation’ and ‘Examination in the Mortuary: Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Stevenage, United Kingdom, December 2014 (KE)  

College of Policing National DVI Foundation Course, Bedfordshire Police, Guest Lectures ‘Postmortem examination of human remains: Relevant legislation’ and ‘Examination in the Mortuary: Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Bedford, United Kingdom, December 2014 (KE) 

College of Policing Disaster Victim Identification Foundation Course, Norfolk Constabulary, Guest Lecture on ‘Disaster Victim Identification: Human Remains, Legal Framework & Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Norfolk, United Kingdom, September 2014 (KE)

Plenary Speaker at International Conference on Contemporary Issues and Challenges of Human Rights in the Era of Globalisation, Paper entitled 'Human Rights and Trans-National Justice: Operationalising International Criminal Investigations', Gujarat Law Society, Ahmedabad, India, August 2014 

Disaster Victim Identification Foundation Course, Suffolk Constabulary, Lecture on ‘Disaster Victim Identification: Human Remains, Legal Framework & Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Police Headquarters Suffolk Police, Ipswich, UK, July 2014 (KE)

Essex Summer School in Human Rights Research Methods, Seminar on 'Applying ethnographic methods for short term field research', Colchester, United Kingdom, July 2014

Panellist, “Exchange of ideas and pedagogical practice pertaining to human rights education between academics from the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, Harvard University and educators and practitioners engaged in human rights education and practice in Kosovo”, Hosted by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)/ USAID, Pristina, June 2014

CRiL Research Seminars, Centre for Research in Law, University of Bedforshire, Invited Speaker, Talk on 'Constructing Forensic Evidence for International Trials', Luton, United Kingdom, June 2014

Socio Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Conference Paper: ‘Disaster Response and Human Rights: A Human Rights Assessment of Disaster Victim Identification’, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, April 2014

Disaster Victim Identification Foundation Course, Cambridgeshire Police, Lecture on ‘Disaster Victim Identification: Human Remains, Legal Framework & Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Cambridgeshire Police College, February 2014 (KE)

Disaster Victim Identification Foundation Course, Essex Police,  Lecture on ‘Disaster Victim Identification: Human Remains, Legal Framework & Forensic Expertise Utilised in the DVI Process’, Chelmsford Police College, Essex, January 2014 (KE) 

Conference on Human Rights Education in Russia and other European Countries. Invited Speaker, Paper entitled 'Interdisciplinary Approach to Human Rights Teaching at the Essex Human Rights Centre', Yekaterinburg, Russia, October 2013

Humanities in Human Rights Residential Weekend, Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts Southeast England (CHASE). An Arts and Humanities Research Council funded collaborative skills initiative for 2013-14 led by the University of East Anglia and in partnership with Goldsmiths, the University of Sussex and University of Essex. Workshop entitled “The Human Body in Human Rights”, Norwich, United Kingdom, October 2013

Open Society Foundations Scholarship Programs Pre-Academic Summer Program 2013 . Guest Lecture entitled “Understanding international forensic investigations in a transitional justice context”, Istanbul, Turkey, August 2013

Conference on The Right To Truth, Justice and Reparation in Latin America, Institute for the Study of the Americas & Human Rights Consortium, University of London. Respondent on panel ‘The Mechanisms and Concepts of Transitional Justice’, London, June 2013

Open Society Foundations Mid-Year Conference, Respondent to Keynote Address, Oxford, United Kingdom, March 2013

“The strongest possible terms”? The evolving role of parliamentary condemnation of atrocities past and present, The Weiner Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide and The Human Rights Consortium, University of London. Invited Speaker, Presentation on “Redressing Past Atrocities: The Spanish Civil War and the Law of Historical Memory” London, November 2012

Mining in Colombia and Latin America: will the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Improve Accountability? ABColombia/Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Panel Chair, London, November 2012

Anthropology in the World Conference, Royal Anthropological Institute in conjunction with the British Museum Centre for Anthropology. Conference Paper: “The use of forensic anthropology in international criminal trials: exploring the synergy of anthropology and international law” on Anthropology in and of the law panel. British Museum, London, United Kingdom, June 2012

Forgotten Rights, Forgotten concepts conference, Irish Centre for Human Rights 10th Anniversary conference. Conference Paper: “Exploring the rights of the dead in the aftermath of war: are the deceased holders of forgotten rights?” Galway, Ireland, November 2010

Irish-American Exchange on Human Rights, Conference Paper: International forensic investigations: do the needs of international criminal law meet the obligations of international human rights & humanitarian law? Co-hosted by the University of Notre Dame and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, October 2010

7th Pan-European International Relations Conference, Conference Paper: “International forensic investigations: do the needs of international criminal law meet the obligations of international humanitarian law?” Stockholm, Sweden, September 2010

Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law Summer School, Conference Paper: “International Forensic Investigations: Balancing criminal justice requirements with human rights obligations”, Galway, Ireland, June 2010

European Science Foundation – Linköping University: Conference on Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Investigation and Prevention of Torture and Death in Custody, Conference Paper: “Medicolegal Investigation of War Crimes: the Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia”, Linköping, Sweden, May 2010

‘CrimeCall’ Radio Telifis Eireann (RTE) Expert opinion on RTE crime investigation programme December 2009

University of Washington's Program on International Justice, Seminar Paper: “The contribution of medicine and forensics to investigations of gross human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law”. Hosted at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, Ireland, August 2009

Oxford Transitional Justice Research Group: International Conference – Taking Stock of Transitional Justice, Conference Paper: “The Exhumation of Mass Graves and the Memorialisation Process: A Critical Analysis of the Transition from Isolated Victim Memory to the Collective Memory of a Nation”. University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, June 2009

British Association for Human Identification Conference, 10th Annual Scientific Meeting, Conference Paper (co-authored with Alexis Bushnell): “Biometric Abuse: An exploration of human identification technology and its potential negative effects for civilians”. University of Dundee, Scotland, June 2009

Forum on the End of Life in Ireland Invited Panellist Galway Public Meeting June 2009

3RD Annual Postgraduate Conference, Conference Paper: “Bodies – The Exhibition: an analysis under international human rights law”, Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, University College Cork, Ireland, April 2009

Human Rights and Forensic Science Conference, Conference Paper: “Are Human Body Exhibitions a denial of Identity and Dignity in death? A legal analysis”. Co-hosted by the Irish Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (University of Dundee), National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland, April 2009

Socio Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Conference Paper: “Investigating Franco era crimes: the Quest for Peace, Truth and Justice in Spain”. Leicester, United Kingdom, April 2009

Conference on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: The Case of Kosovo, Conference Paper: “Medicolegal & Forensic Investigations of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: the Balkans Conflict and the Jurisprudence of the ICTY”. Co-hosted University of Prishtina and the University of Bergamo, Prishtina, Kosovo, October 2008

University of Washington's Program on the Challenges of International Justice, Seminar Paper: “The ICTY and Forensic Evidence”. Hosted at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, Ireland, August 2008

Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law Summer School, Conference Paper: “Indigenous Remains – Ancestry, Science, Law and Competing Claims for ‘Ownership’”. Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, Ireland, June 2008

Socio Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Conference Paper: “Victims of war: how does international law address the issue of the deceased?” Manchester, United Kingdom, March 2008

‘The Mill Debates 2008’ ‘Are Human Rights Just a Western Invention’ Invited Speaker Galway One World Centre, Galway, February 2008

Additional information

Associate Fellow of the Human Rights Consortium, University of London

Member of the Essex Transitional Justice Network  

External Examiner for the LLM Law, University of Bedfordshire

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