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Previously, Professor O'Flaherty was Established Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway since February 2013. He has served as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. From 2004-2012, he was a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, latterly as a Vice-Chairperson.
Professor O’Flaherty has been a member of the UK Foreign Office’s advisory bodies on freedom of expression and the prevention of torture and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs’ human rights advisory committee. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and has sat on the advisory boards of numerous human rights groups and journals internationally.
Professor O’Flaherty read law at University College Dublin, theology and philosophy at the Gregorian University, Rome, international relations at the University of Amsterdam and is a Solicitor of the Irish Courts.
Professor O’Flaherty was the principal drafter of the General Comment of the Human Rights Committee on the freedoms of opinion and expression (General Comment 34, adopted in 2011). He was also rapporteur for the development of the Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law with regard to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (the Yogyakarta Principles). He initiated and directed the opening and closing expert consultations of the Dublin Process on the Strengthening of the UN Human Rights Treaty Body System and was rapporteur for its Dublin Outcome Document. He has been a member of the UN Expert Task Force on Human Rights Indicators that concluded its work in 2012.
Professor O'Flaherty's recent publications include volumes on the law and practice of human rights field operations, the professionalization of human rights field work and on human rights diplomacy.
Professor O’Flaherty came to NUI Galway from the University of Nottingham where he was Professor of Applied Human Rights and Co-director of the Human Rights Law Centre. Previously he held a number of senior posts at the United Nations. He established the UN human rights field missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994) and Sierra Leone (1998) and subsequently guided UN headquarters support to its human rights programmes across the Asia-Pacific region. He has served as Secretary of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and UN human rights advisor for implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. From 2000 to 2002 he chaired the UN reference group on human rights and humanitarian action.
FRA’s Founding Regulation states that the Agency shall be headed by a Director, appointed by the Management Board for a period of five years. This term may be extended once for not more than three years.