Aoife Nolan is an internationally recognised expert in human rights law, with a particular focus on economic and social rights and children's rights. Aoife Co-leads Doughty Street Chambers' Children's Rights Group and is a member of the Doughty Street International Steering Group. She is Professor of International Human Rights Law at the School of the Law, University of Nottingham, where she is also Director of the Human Rights Law Centre's Economic and Social Rights Unit. Aoife is President of the Council of Europe's European Committee of Social Rights, the leading European monitoring mechanism on economic and social rights, having joined the Committee in 2017 and served as Vice-President in 2021-2.
Her books include Children’s Socio-economic Rights, Democracy and the Courts (Hart, 2011), which won the IALT Kevin Boyle Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Society of Legal Scholars Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship, Economic and Social Rights after the Global Financial Crisis (CUP, 2014), Human Rights and Public Finance (Hart, 2013) (edited with O’Connell and Harvey), The United Nations Special Procedures System (Brill 2017) (edited with Freedman and Murphy). In 2021, she was shortlisted for 'Legal Academic of the Year' at the Inspirational Women in Law Awards.
Aoife has worked with and acted as an expert advisor to a wide range of international and national organisations and bodies working on human rights issues, including UN Special Procedures, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In 2021-3 she was a member of the advisory committee on the UNCRC's forthcoming General Comment No.26 on children's rights and the environment), while in 2022, she was the academic partner in a collaboration to provide the CESCR with support in terms of mainstreaming child rights and ensuring child participation in the development of its forthcoming General Comment on sustainable development and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This included leading on the production of a child-friendly version of the Covenant. In 2017, she produced a report for the World Bank on ‘Fiscal Constraints and Human Rights: Is there a ‘right’ way to scale down social programmes?’, focused on question of under what circumstances, if any, and, if so, how social programmes can be scaled down in compliance with human rights standards. In 2019, she was commissioned by the Council of Europe to produce a report on ‘Protecting the Child from Child Poverty: The Role of Rights in the Council of Europe’.
Her research has been cited extensively by international human rights actors, including Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Commissioner for Human Rights - Commissioner for Human Rights (coe.int), the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, the UN Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on human rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health. In 2018, she was one of the drafters of the Abidjan Principles on the Right to Education. In December 2017, Aoife was appointed to the Scottish First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership, which was tasked with making recommendations on how Scotland can lead by example in human rights, including economic, social, cultural and environmental rights (report here). From June 2019 to July 2020, she was a member of the Scottish Government's Child Rights Working Group, which was convened to inform the development of a model that incorporates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law in Scotland (report here).
Aoife currently leads a major three-year research project focused on the theory and practice of child rights strategic litigation. Advancing Child Rights Strategic Litigation (ACRiS) is an international research collaboration with a range of academic and advocacy partners in Europe, Africa and Asia (funded by the Global Campus of Human Rights-Right Livelihood Collaboration).
In 2017, Aoife was PI on an ESRC IAA-funded collaborative project, 'Making Economic and Social Rights Real', between the University of Nottingham and the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain. This project generated a series of digital resources on economic and social rights, including videos, directed towards civil society, policymakers, academics and others with a background in human rights and an interest in learning more about economic and social rights. These are available here, while individual episodes can be linked to from here.