Human Rights Roundtable Speakers
Dessie Donnelly is the Director (Development) at Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR). Located in Belfast, PPR supports groups in deprived communities to harness their expertise and advocate for remedies to the problems they face using a unique Human Rights Based. The groups launch campaigns which measure success when change is seen on the ground, not when government makes a commitment. Successes include the establishment of a new appointment system for mental health patients attending A&E across Northern Ireland, re-housing families from run-down tower blocks, and re-negotiation of regeneration plans from which residents have been excluded. In November 2012, PPR's Human Rights Based Approach was recognised by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as an 'example of how people can effectively use indicators to claim their rights'. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said about PPR's work: "It's the way human rights work should be, but isn't, done".
Mr Donnelly previously held organiser roles with the trade unions UNISON and SEIU. He holds a masters degree in philosophy from Queen’s University Belfast.
Brian is Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Northern Ireland’s leading human rights NGO. For over a decade before that, he was an independent consultant working mainly in the voluntary and community sector and specialising in justice, human rights and equality issues.
He was Deputy Director of NIACRO for 25 years until 2000 working with communities, alienated young people, ex-offenders and prisoners’ families. He has published and presented extensively on justice, community policing and conflict resolution issues, particularly on politically motivated prisoner release, victims of terrorism, dealing with the past and restorative justice. He has been involved in international peace-related work in South Africa, Israel/Palestine, the Basque Country, Italy and Colombia. He also worked on the Bill of Rights with the NI Human Rights Commission.
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin is the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. She is also an academic who directs the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School. She is concurrently a Professor of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. Her teaching and research interests are in the fields of international law, human rights law, national security law, transitional justice, and feminist legal theory.
Previously, Prof Ní Aoláin was a representative of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at domestic war crimes trials in Bosnia (1996-97). In 2003, she was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as a Special Expert on promoting gender equality in times of conflict and peace-making and in subsequent years, she has conducted expert research for the UN and the International Criminal Court. In addition, she served as a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission (2000-2005). She is also an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, and a member of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. She is Board Chair of the Open Society Foundations Women Program, and serves on the Board of the Center for Victims of Torture National Advisory Council.