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Ulster Appoints Three Law Professors

29 November 2012

The University of Ulster has appointed three new professors to the School of Law and the Transitional Justice Institute.

Dr Rory O'Connell, currently senior lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast, has been appointed to a professorship in Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

Dr Siobhan Wills, currently statutory lecturer at University College, Cork, has been appointed to a professorship in Law.

Dr Cath Collins, currently associate professor at the Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile has been appointed to a professorship in Transitional Justice.

Dr O’Connell and Dr Willis will both be based at the Jordanstown campus and Dr Collins will be based at the Magee campus.

University of Ulster Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett welcomed the appointments.

“These appointments will augment the existing Professorial group in Law at the University of Ulster, bringing research expertise and leadership to the School of Law and Transitional Justice Institute,” Professor Barnett said.

“We look forward to welcoming them to the University of Ulster in 2013.”

Professor O Connellwill join the School of Law as Professor of Human Rights and Constitutional Law in February 2013. A native of Tarbert in Co Kerry, Dr O’Connell was awarded a scholarship from Aughinish Alumina to study Law at UCD and received a scholarship from UCD to complete his LLM there.

As part of his BCL, he spent a year in France and received his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence. A member of the Human Rights Centre and School of Law at QUB since 2001, Professor O’Connell previously taught at Lancaster School of Law.

His current research and teaching interests are in the areas of Human Rights and Equality, Constitutional Law and Legal Theory. Professor O’Connell’s publications includeLegal Theory in the Crucible of Constitutional Justice (2000) and articles in Ratio Juris, the International Journal of Constitutional Law and other journals. Several of his research projects have been supported by grants from the British Academy, Nuffield Foundation and Changing Aging Partnership.

Professor Willswill join Ulster as Professor of Law in January 2013.Her primary research area is public international law, particularly the law of armed conflict, human rights law and the law relevantto peacekeeping operations.

She graduated top of the class with a first class honours Law degree from NUI Galway in 2000 and was subsequently awarded her LLM from Yale in 2001 and her doctorate from Oxford University in 2007.She took up a lecturing position at University College Cork in 2006.

Professor Wills was a Fulbright Fellow at Harvard Law School on the Human Rights Program and at New York University Law School on the Hauser Global Fellowship Program between 2009 and 2010. Her book 'Protecting Civilians: The Obligations of Peacekeepers' was published by Oxford University Press in 2009.

In November 2010, Dr Wills was appointed Co-Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights at University College Cork. Whilst at UCC, she received two prestigious awards from the President of the university: aPresident's Early Career Achievement Award (2010) and a President's Excellence in Teaching Award (2012).

Priorto her academic career, Dr Willsworked in theatre. She has a BA in English from Birmingham University and isa member of both British and Irish Actors' Equity Groups.
Professor Collins is a well-known international expert in the area of Transitional Justice with a particular expertise in Latin American transitions.

Since October 2007 she has been Associate Professor of Politics at the Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile, where she founded the university’s Human Rights Observatory ( which is currently mapping developments in trials of perpetrators of Pinochet-era atrocities.

Professor Collins was previously Latin America Research Fellow at Chatham House, London (The Royal Institute of International Affairs), where she was in charge of an EU-sponsored research project on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. She is also an Associate Fellow at Trinity College Dublin’s Post-Conflict Justice Centre at Chatham House.

During 2004 and 2005 Professor Collins lectured in the politics of human rights in Latin America at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, a graduate school of the University of London. Her doctoral thesis, completed at the same Institute in 2004, dealt with justice developments in post-transitional Chile and El Salvador and she has written extensively on the international dimensions of the Pinochet prosecution in Chile and on human rights prosecutions in Chile and El Salvador.

Professor Collins is currently researching the politics of memorialisation in the Southern Cone and comparative post-transitional justice scenarios in Latin America. Before embarking on a career in academia, Professor Collins worked as a youth and community worker in the UK, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile.She will join the Transitional Justice Institute in March 2013.