Page content

Law in the face of austerity: the role of human rights law in Austerity UK

Workshop May 20th

Belfast Campus of Ulster University, Boardroom

Austerity is major challenge facing current and future generations of students, scholars and practitioners in numerous disciplines including Law. UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty Philip Alston, has depicted the impact of universal credit, the benefits cap, cuts to local authorities, cuts to legal aid, digital by default, and the benefits freeze. The report excoriates the UK authorities for tolerating levels of poverty, destitution, homelessness, rough sleeping and use of food banks that are shocking in a rich country.

The law and legal system are implicated in this process. Changes to the social security system have been introduced through legislation. The provision of legal services has been severely curtailed due to legal aid cutbacks. This problem has created a challenge of unmet legal aid that our award-winning Ulster University Law Clinic has made the focus of its work.

At the same time the law is being used to challenge austerity. The Supreme Court has considered cases on the benefits cap and the bedroom tax (or spare room subsidy).

For this workshop, supported by the University’s teaching enhancement project, human rights law students, employment law students, social security law students and others will be invited to participate in a three-hour workshop with leading scholars in this field.

Law in the face of austerity: the role of human rights law in Austerity UK

2.00-2.10 Welcome

Austerity: Origins and Impacts

Chair: Prof Rory O’Connell


Dr Angela O’Hagan (WISE Centre for Economic Justice, GCU, Scottish Women’s Budget Group)

Goretti Horgan (Ulster, Applied Social and Policy Sciences),

3.25 Coffee/Tea

National and International Legal Responses to Austerity

Chair: Dr Mark Simpson


Prof Colm O Cinneide (UCL, former member of the European Committee of Social Rights).

Dr Katie Boyle (Stirling; Member of First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership)

Prof Grainne McKeever (Ulster, School of Law, and Co-Director, Law Clinic).

5.00 Closing remarks Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Visiting Professor at Ulster University



To register:

For more details contact Rory O’Connell

Event info

This event has ended

Monday 20 May

2pm to 5pm