Gender and Human Rights

International Women's Day 2015- Stepping it up on the streets of New York City

Contact: Dr Ronagh McQuigg and Dr Kathryn McNeilly 0da17e2a-9ed5-496a-b161-9fd4491ce5c7

Engagements between gender and human rights have been central to the development and practice of human rights at international and domestic levels. This has been the case in relation to the rights of women and, more recently, LGBT communities. Issues such as gender equality, domestic and sexual violence, reproductive and maternal health, marriage and family life and gendered cultural attitudes and practices emerged as central human rights concerns from the mid-late twentieth century into the twenty first. The Human Rights Centre is committed to sustaining a gendered perspective on human rights and exploring where human rights can be used to draw attention to and address issues of concern in relation to gender, sex and sexuality.

Ronagh’s research encompasses a range of issues in relation to assessing the effectiveness of international human rights law, with a particular focus on analysing domestic violence from a human rights perspective.  In doing so, she examines a variety of approaches, such as using human rights law through a litigation strategy, for example by utilisation of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.  She also analyses the approaches which have been taken by international bodies, such as the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), to the issue of domestic violence, and Ronagh examines how the statements which have been made by such bodies can be used by those working towards combatting domestic violence, such as NGOs, to place additional pressure on governments to take further steps in this area. She has a particular interest in analysing the new Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (‘the Istanbul Convention’) and the potential held by this instrument in relation to the specific issue of domestic violence.

Kathryn’s research intersects the areas of human rights, gender and critical theory. Kathryn is particularly interested in gendered approaches to and critiques of the underlying theory and practice of human rights. Her work in this regard has undertaken a critical gendered analysis of the norm of non-discrimination in relation to domestic violence and of the right to life in relation to reproductive health and abortion. Drawing resources from feminist and queer theory, her present work seeks to articulate an approach to human rights which begins with the alterity always haunting human rights concepts and ideas, using this as a starting point to work towards a contestatory politics and practice of human rights which takes a critical relation to restrictive regimes of power, including gendered power.




R. McQuigg, International Human Rights Law and Domestic Violence (2011, Routledge, Abingdon).

R. McQuigg, Bills of Rights – A Comparative Perspective (2014, Intersentia, Cambridge).


Journal Articles

R. McQuigg, ‘The Responses of States to the Comments of the CEDAW Committee on Domestic Violence’, (2007) 11 International Journal of Human Rights 461-479.

R. McQuigg, ‘A “very limited” effect or a “seismic” impact?  A study of the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the Courts of Northern Ireland’, (2010) Public Law 550-563.

R. McQuigg, ‘How could Human Rights Law be used by the Courts to assist Victims of Domestic Violence?  A Comparative Study’, (2010) 14 International Journal of Human Rights 343-363.

R. McQuigg, ‘The Victim Test under the Human Rights Act 1998 and its Implications for Domestic Violence Cases’, (2011) European Human Rights Law Review 294-303.

R. McQuigg, ‘How Effective is the United Nations Committee Against Torture?’, (2011) 22 European Journal of International Law 813-828.

K. McNeilly, “The Illusions of Post-Feminism, Ghosts of Gender and the Discourses of Law”feminists@law 1(2) (2012): 1-14.

R. McQuigg, ‘Domestic Violence and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v United States’, (2012) 12 Human Rights Law Review 122-134.

R. McQuigg, ‘The Use of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Courts of Victoria’, (2012) 8 Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education 22-40.

R. McQuigg, ‘What Potential does the Council of Europe Convention on Violence against Women hold as regards Domestic Violence?’, (2012) 16 International Journal of Human Rights 947-962.

R. McQuigg, ‘Domestic Violence and the ECJ: Joined Cases C-483/09 and C-1/10 Magatte Gueye and Valentin Salmeron Sanchez’, (2012) 18 European Public Law 645-654.

R. McQuigg, ‘A Contextual Analysis of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women’, (2012) 1 International Human Rights Law Review 367-381.

K. McNeilly, “The United Kingdom, the United Nations Human Rights Council and the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review” International Journal of Human Rights 17(1) (2013): 152-177. Co-authored with Leanne Cochrane, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

R. McQuigg, ‘The Canadian Supreme Court and Domestic Violence: R v Ryan, 2013 SCC 3’, (2013) 21Feminist Legal Studies 185-193.

R. McQuigg, ‘The Human Rights Act 1998 – Future Prospects’, (2014) 35 Statute Law Review 120-132.

K. McNeilly, “Gendered Violence and International Human Rights: Thinking Non-Discrimination Beyond the Sex Binary” Feminist Legal Studies 22(3) (2014): 263-283. 

R. McQuigg, ‘The European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 – Ten Years On’, (2014) 3 International Human Rights Law Review 61-96. 

K. McNeilly, “Framing Wrongs, Performing Rights in Northern Ireland: Toward a Butlerian Approach to Life in Abortion Strategising” Journal of International Women’s Studies 14(4) (2014): 95-108.

R. McQuigg, ‘The European Court of Human Rights and Domestic Violence: Valiuliene v Lithuania’, (2014) 18 International Journal of Human Rights 756-773.

K. McNeilly, “From the Right to Life to the Right to Livability: Radically Re-approaching ‘Life’ in Human Rights Politics” Australian Feminist Law Journal 41(1) (forthcoming 2015).


Chapters in Edited Collections.

R. McQuigg, ‘What Potential does the Human Rights Act 1998 hold for Domestic Violence Groups?’ in N. Kang-Riou, J. Milner and S. Nayak (eds), Confronting the Human Rights Act 1998: contemporary themes and perspectives (2012, Routledge, Abingdon) pp.185-198.

 R. McQuigg, ‘Gender-Based Violence and the Legal Perspective: A Critical Overview’ in K. Nakray (ed),Gender-Based Violence and Public Health: International Perspectives on Budgets and Policies(2012, Routledge, Abingdon) pp.40-53.

K. McNeilly, “Re Family Planning Association for Northern Ireland” in Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity, eds. Aoife O’Donoghue, Máiréad Enright and Julie McCandless. London: Hart (forthcoming 2016).

Publication of Conference Paper.

R. McQuigg, ‘The European Court of Human Rights and Domestic Violence’, (2010) 5 International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences 433-437.


Book Reviews 

R. McQuigg, Review of The UN Human Rights Treaty System: Law and Procedure (S. Egan, 2011, Bloomsbury Professional, Dublin) (2012) 47 Irish Jurist 237-239.

R. McQuigg, Review of Ireland and the European Convention on Human Rights: 60 Years and Beyond (S. Egan, L. Thornton and J. Walsh, 2014, Bloomsbury Professional, Dublin) (2015) 53 Irish Jurist182-184.