Gerard Quinn is a professor of law at the National University of Ireland (Galway). He holds degrees in political science (B.A.) and law (LL.B.) from the National University, is a qualified barrister-at-law (B.L., Kings’ Inns) and a graduate of Harvard Law School (LL.M., S.J.D.). He directs a Centre on Disability Law & Policy which is one of the founding centers of a new Institute on Lifecourse & Society at the university which brings together scholarship on families & children, older persons and persons with disabilities.
He has had a varied career in public service. He was a former Director of Research at the Irish Government’s Law Reform Commission and has served two terms on the Irish Human Rights Commission. He has served on other Government bodies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Joint Committee on human rights and the Government’s Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. He is currently a Presidential appointee to the Council of State which provides constitutional law advice to the President of Ireland.
He currently sits on the scientific committee (advisory board) of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (Vienna). He has worked as a temporary civil servant in the European Commission (EU) on equality policy and also rose to be First Vice President of the Council of Europe’s Social Rights Committee (a treaty monitoring body on economic and social rights in Europe). He has directed large studies for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and led the delegation of Rehabilitation International during the drafting of the new UN treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Because he has led several large scale EU-funded research projects and PhD networks he has been declared a ‘Champion of EU Research’ by the Irish Government (Dept. of Enterprise, 2011). He has been a joint honoree with Senator Tom Harkin of the United States International Council on Disability (2014) and received a Presidential Award from Rehabilitation International in 2009 for his work in drafting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He sits, and has sat, on many advisory boards including those of the Soros-Open Society Foundations Human Rights Initiative (Washington DC), and Human Rights Watch-disability programme (NYC).
He has been a distinguished visiting professor at the University of New South Wales (Sydney), a visiting professor at the University of Haifa (Israel), a visiting research fellow at Harvard Law School and a visiting professor at NALSAR (National Academy of Legal Studies and Research) Law School in Hyderabad, India, where he holds an adjunct chair.
His recent publications include (with Blanck & DePaor) ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the case for an EU-level Legal Response’ (Routeledge, London 2014) and ‘Selected Readings on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,’ (People’s Publishing House, Beijing, 2014, in Chinese). Among his forthcoming publications is a paper on ‘Intersectionality and Non-Discrimination Law’ to be published by the Equal Rights Review (London) in 2016.
His current research involves theories of moral and legal personhood and challenges in the 21st century. This began as a project anchored on disability but has since evolved to a broader exploration into the nature of what it means to be human – in ethics and in law – and especially in the context of ageing and disability. He has an evolving interest in eugenics and disability.
He will be the co-keynote speaker at the upcoming (November 2017) EU/China dialogue on disability in Beijing organised by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the European Commission.