Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin Named Honorary King's Counsel by His Majesty The King of England

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin has been named Honorary King's Counsel (KC Hon) by His Majesty The King of England, who approved the appointment of 95 barristers and solicitors as new King’s Counsel (KC) in England and Wales and five new Honorary King’s Counsel (KC Honoris Causa). Honorary KCs are awarded to those who have made a major contribution to the law of England and Wales, outside practice in the courts.

The Lord Chancellor will preside over the appointment ceremony at Westminster Hall in March 2024, where he will formally bestow the title of KC upon the successful applicants and award the Honorary KCs.

Professor Ní Aoláin was nominated for her work in advising the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and civil society, informing and shaping the policy and legal work being progressed on the protection of social and economic rights and the rule of law in the post-Belfast Agreement context. Her work with the UN has been strongly supported by the UK, where she has been a champion for mainstreaming human rights in countering terrorism, has led the UN human rights response on the situation of the men, women and children detained in Al Hol and Al Roj camps in North-East Syria, advanced the human rights of victims of terrorism as well as leading the first global study on the impact of counter-terrorism on civil society. 

"King's Counsel are among the most elite lawyers not just in the UK, but in the world," said University of Minnesota Law School Interim Dean William McGeveran, Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett Professor of Law. "Fionnuala receiving an honorary recognition of that scale is further indication of her giant international profile and her zeal for public service. As always, we are deeply proud of her work and fortunate to have her as a scholar, teacher, and colleague at Minnesota Law."

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin is a University Regents Professor; Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society; and faculty director of the Human Rights Center at the Law School. She is concurrently a professor of law at the Queen's University of Belfast, School of Law.

“I am deeply humbled by this award and its recognition of my legal work over the past three decades,” said Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin. “I remain profoundly committed to the rule of law and human rights and welcome the opportunity this award gives me to continue and enhance that work in the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and across the globe.”

In 2017, Professor Ní Aoláin was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. In this capacity, she worked closely with states and United Nations entities to advance human rights protections in some of the most difficult contexts globally. She was re-elected by States for a further three-year term in 2020, and her term ended in November 2023.  She was elected to the International Commission of Jurists in 2023.

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Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Regents Professor & Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society
Faculty Director, Human Rights Center
Professor, Queen's University of  Belfast, School of Law, Northern Ireland