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Irish lawyer to head CoE’s rights body
Michael O'Flaherty (Pic: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe)

26 Jan 2024 / human rights Print

Law Society welcomes O’Flaherty CoE election

The Law Society of Ireland has welcomed the election of Irish lawyer Professor Michael O’Flaherty as the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after a vote by the body’s parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg earlier this week.

President of the Law Society of Ireland Barry MacCarthy said: “We are proud to see an Irish person take on the important role of international human-rights advocate.

“Defending human-rights law and upholding human-rights institutions are fundamental to democracy and the rule of law.

“We are in a period of global uncertainty and growing challenges to the rule of law, which should remind each of us that we cannot take our individual and collective human rights for granted.

“There is work to do to promote and protect human rights for all, and we all have a role to play. As commissioner, Professor O'Flaherty has been recognised for his expertise in the field of human rights and his dedication to the protection of human rights in Ireland and throughout the world. We wish him well for his term,” the president concluded.

Six-year term

Micheál Martin (Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs) also congratulated O’Flaherty on his election, describing it as “a mark of the high regard in which he is held”.

The Irish lawyer will serve a non-renewable term of six years, starting on 1 April 2024.

He has served as the director of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, and previously as Professor of Human Rights Law and director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland.

He has also previously been Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee.


The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent, non-judicial institution established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the 46 Council of Europe member states.

It identifies possible shortcomings in the law and practice concerning human rights, and facilitates the activities of national human-rights institutions and structures.

The commissioner makes regular visits to the member States to engage in dialogue with governments and civil society, and draw up reports on issues falling within his mandate.

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