1. Background
  2. Publications
  3. Research Grants
  4. Teaching Interests

Dr Catherine O’Rourke

Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law

Transitional Justice Institute

University of Ulster

Jordanstown, Co. Antrim

BT37 0QB

Ph: +44 (0)28 9036 8159

Email: cf.orourke@ulster.ac.uk


Dr Catherine O’Rourke holds an undergraduate degree in law and politics from Queen's University Belfast and a masters degree from the London School of Economics Gender Institute. She completed her doctoral work at the TJI  under the supervision of Christine Bell and Carmel Roulston. The research examined the engagement by women’s movements with transitional justice processes, and the gendered outcomes of transitional justice processes, in Chile, Northern Ireland and Colombia. The doctorate was awarded the 2010 Basil Chubb Prize for the best PhD produced in any field of politics in an Irish university and was published as a monograph by Routledge in 2013, entitled Gender Politics in Transitional Justice. Her research with Christine Bell on gendered provisions in peace agreements and the impact of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 has been widely cited by the UN and other intergovernmental policy agencies working in gender and conflict and women’s NGOs.  She has conducted research on gender and reparations (with TJI colleagues Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and Aisling Swaine) commissioned by UN Women and the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights. Catherine is active in local feminist politics in Belfast, in particular on issues of gender and dealing with the past, and reproductive rights. 

Research Interests

Dr O'Rourke is Gender Research Coordinator at the Transitional Justice Institute. The unifying feature of her work is the synthesis of feminist legal and political theory in order to better understand feminist legal mobilisation. Her current research projects largely pertain to questions of feminist strategy in international law, in order to better understand the perceived 'costs' and 'benefits' of feminist engagement with international law. This research examines feminist conceptions of international law as normative, political and doctrinal, and empirical analysis of feminist engagement with international law at local, transnational and 'insider' levels. The empirical cases currently under study are twofold: the first pertains to local, transnational and 'insider' campaigns for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in Northern Ireland; while the second concerns local alliances between human rights and feminist organisations in engaging the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to advance women's reproductive rights in Northern Ireland. She has plans to roll this project out further to campaigns affecting different jurisdictions and engaging different regimes of international law. In addition, she has a broad interest in questions of women's participation in international law and peace and conflict processes and the rise of normative standards in this arena. She has published on this question and continues to do so.  

Research Supervision

Dr O'Rourke currently supervises doctoral research in domestic violence laws in post-conflict settings and feminist legal theory and gender equality in sports law. She is keen to supervise PhD research in her areas of expertise and is open to emails from interested candidates. 

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