Researcher Profile: Prof. Gerard Quinn

Introducing Gerard Quinn

Prof. Gerard QuinnProfessor Gerard Quinn is a leading authority on international and comparative disability law and policy and is a professor of law at NUI Galway. ‌

He directs the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the School of Law, which was established by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies in 2008.  The Centre is a founding member of the Lifecourse Policy Research Institute at the University.  He was called to the Irish Bar in 1983, and holds a masters (LL.M) and doctorate in law (SJD) from Harvard Law School as well as a BA (Political Science) and LL.B from NUI Galway.

His animating philosophy is ‘scholarship in action’ which means placing the assets of the university at the service of democratic reform processes.

In keeping with this philosophy he has undertaken many different roles outside of the academy in government, international treaty monitoring bodies and with civil society.  He was director of the Irish Government’s Law Reform Commission and also a civil servant in the European Commission where he helped change EU policy on disability.  He served on the Irish Government’s Commission on the Status of persons with Disabilities (1993-1996) and the Irish Human Rights Commission (2002-2012).  He led the delegation of Rehabilitation International during the negotiations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York.  And he served as First Vice President of the Committee on Economic and Social Rights under a Council of Europe treaty on social rights where he developed its jurisprudence on the rights of older people as well as people with disabilities.

Gerard sits on various international advisory boards dealing with disability law and policy issues such as SOROS-Open Society Foundation (Washington, DC), the European Foundation Centre Consortium on Disability (Brussels), the European Coalition for Community Living (London) and Interights (London).  He received the Presidential Award of excellence from Rehabilitation International in 2008 and in 2012 he was named by Enterprise Ireland as a ’Champion of European Research’.  More recently he was appointed by President Michael D. Higgins to serve on the Council of State, which provides constitutional advice to the President.

Gerard's Research

Gerard’s research has always been crafted for high impact.  He co-authored the first book in the world on comparative disability law in 1992.  This led directly to his appointment both to the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities and to the European Commission.  He continues to produce research for and with the European Commission on a variety of disability topics and more particularly on EU implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of people with disabilities.  He has led several research networks for the European Commission and currently directs a Europe-wide Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) PhD network on the UN Convention.  His aim through such networks is to form the next generation of disability policy entrepreneurs who have the skills to impact processes of change.

In 2001 He co-authored and led a major Study for the United Nations on “Human Rights and Disability: The Current Use and Future Potential of United National Human Rights Instruments in the Context of Disability” which was the first serious articulation of the case for a treaty.  It had a major bearing on the treaty negotiations in the UN where he chaired a working group on non-discrimination.  His more recent research includes one of the first books on the UN Convention (Nijhoff, 2009) and another major Study for the UN on the EU Structural Funds and their potential to help achieve community living across Europe (2012).  He co-edits (with Professor Lisa Waddington of Maastricht University and Dr Eilionoir Flynn of NUI Galway) an annual internationally peer reviewed Yearbook on European Disability Law published by Intersentia (entering Vol. 4 in 2013). He publishes regularly in major international law reviews and has contributed many chapters to volumes published by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.  His works have been widely cited and translated into Russian, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Georgian.

To date he has directly raised approximately €8 million in research awards and philanthropic grants. He has indirectly raised another €3 million in collaboration with others. He leads the International Summer School on Disability Law at NUI Galway, which enters its fifth session in 2013 and attracts a worldwide audience.  In 2011 his students took the initiative to set up the country’s first university-based Disability Legal Information Clinic.