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Professor Catherine O'Rourke

Professor of Global Law

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Professor of Global Law in the Durham Law School  


Catherine O'Rourke is Professor of Global Law at Durham Law School. She researches, teaches and engages in policy work in the fields of gender, conflict and international law. Catherine is centrally interested in the regulation of women’s rights in conflict under international law, and has relevant expertise across international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international criminal law and the UN Security Council. She has a particular interest in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, with growing expertise in the regulation of sexual orientation and gender identity under CEDAW and the WPS agenda. Her emerging thematic work in international law is focused on questions of care in international law and on the achievement of general and complete disarmament under international law. More broadly, as an international lawyer, Catherine has a deep interest in both the role of civil society and the implications of fragmentation for international law-making.

Catherine is an Honorary Senior Fellow in Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne. She is the former Director (2020-21) and Gender Research Coordinator (2010-20) of the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University School of Law. She led the Gender Theme of the £4.4 million pound DFID-funded Political Settlements Research Programme. Her academic awards include the Kevin Boyle Book Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship 2020-21 from the Irish Association of Law Teachers for her monograph 'Women's Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law' (Cambridge, 2020), an Ulster University Distinguished Researcher Award (2019), an Irish Fulbright Scholar Award (2016), and the 2010 Basil Chubb Prize, for the best PhD in politics from an Irish university, which was published as 'Gender Politics in Transitional Justice' (Routledge, 2013).

Catherine works with the Irish and UK governments, the United Nations and several non-governmental organisations in policy work connected to her research. She is regularly commissioned to conduct expert research on gender and conflict by intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, including UN Women, the UN Office of the High Commission on Human Rights, and the International Criminal Court Trust Fund for Victims. She is centrally involved in Durham University’s work as academic partner to the Saferworld-led Helpdesk on Women, Peace and Security for the UK Government.

Esteem Indicators

  • 2022: Honorable Mention, Women in International Law Book Prize, American Society of International Law: Awarded an Honorable Mention for 'Women's Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law' (CUP, 2020) in the biannual Scholarship Prize of the American Society of International Law - Women in International Law Interest Group, for excellence in international law scholarship involving women and girls, gender, and feminist approaches.
  • 2021: Kevin Boyle Book Prize for Oustanding Legal ScholarshipKevin Boyle Book Prize for Oustanding Legal Scholarship, awarded by the Irish Association of Law Teachers: For the monograph 'Women's Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law' (Cambridge, 2020). The Irish Association of Law Teachers awards the Kevin Boyle Book Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship every two years.
  • 2019: Distinguished Research Fellow, Ulster University Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: Awarded to the Faculty's most accomplished researcher within 10 years of the award of his/her PhD
  • 2016: Irish Fulbright Scholar Award: Awarded for demonstrated academic and personal excellence, a strong rationale for going to the U.S., a robust program of research, strong leadership skills or potential, and an understanding and commitment to the ethos of being a Fulbrighter.
  • 2010: Basil Chubb Award for the best PhD produced in an Irish university in any field of politics, awarded by Political Studies Association Ireland: Awarded for doctoral research that underpinned the monograph Gender Politics in Transitional Justice (Routledge, 2013)


Authored book

  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2020). Women's Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law. Cambridge University Press.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2013). Gender Politics in Transitional Justice. Routledge.

Book review

  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2020). Book Review: Feminist Dialogues on International Law: Successes, Tensions, Futures.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2017). Book Review: Buried in the Heart: Women, Complex Victimhood and the War in Northern Uganda.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2013). Book review: Transitional Justice, Judicial Accountability and the Rule of Law. Social \& Legal Studies 22(3): 423-425.

Chapter in book

  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2022). Fragmentation Fears or Interaction Opportunities? The Role and Potential of International Human Rights Law in Shaping International Criminal Law's Gender Jurisprudence. In Gender and International Criminal Law. Oxford University Press.
  • (2022). Women and the UN Security Council. In Oxford Bibliography of International Law. Oxford University Press.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine & Swaine, Aisling (2019). WPS and CEDAW, Optional Protocol, and General Recommendations. In Oxford Handbook on Women, Peace and Security. Oxford University Press. 669.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2016). Gender and transitional justice. In Handbook on Gender and War. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2012). Transitioning to what? Transitional justice and gendered citizenship in Chile and Colombia. In Gender in Transitional Justice. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 136-160.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2011). International Law and Domestic Gender Justice: Why Case Studies Matter. In Feminist Perspectives on Transitional Justice: From International and Criminal to Alternative Forms of Justice, edited by Martha Fineman and Estelle Zinstag. Intersentia.

Conference Paper

  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2015). Feminist scholarship in transitional justice: a de-politicising impulse? 51: 118-127.
  • Case, Mary Anne, O'Rourke, Catherine & Slye, Ronald (2008). Feminism V. Feminism: What Is a Feminist Approach to Transnational Criminal Law? 102: 269.

Journal Article

  • Hagen, Jamie & O'Rourke, Catherine F. (Accepted). Forum-Shifting and Human Rights: Prospects for Queering the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Human Rights Quarterly
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2020). International law, COVID-19 and feminist engagement with the United Nations Security Council: the end of the affair? Feminist legal studies 28(3): 321-328.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2019). International Gender Equality Norms and their Fragmented Protection in Conflict. feminists@ law 9(1).
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2019). Gender, Conflict and Political Settlements: What Do We Know? feminists@ law 9(1).
  • O'Rourke, Catherine & Swaine, Aisling (2018). CEDAW and the Security Council: Enhancing Women's Rights in Conflict. International & Comparative Law Quarterly 67(1): 167-199.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2017). Gendering Political Settlements: Challenges and Opportunities. Journal of International Development 29(5): 594-612.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2017). Feminist Strategy in International Law: Understanding Its Legal, Normative and Political Dimensions. European Journal of International Law 28(4): 1019-1045.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine & Swaine, Aisling (2017). Gender, violence and reparations in Northern Ireland: a story yet to be told. The International Journal of Human Rights 21(9): 1302-1319.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2017). Bridging the Enforcement Gap? Evaluating the Inquiry Procedure of the CEDAW Optional Protocol. American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and Law 26(3): 1-21.
  • Ahmed, Yasmine, Duddy, Sara, Hackett, Claire, Lundy, Patricia, McCallan, Mary, McKeown, Gemma, Murphy, Andrée, O'Rourke, Catherine, Patterson-Bennet, Emma, Wing, Leah & others (2016). Developing Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past. Oxford University Press.
  • Mallinder, Louise & O’Rourke, Catherine (2016). Databases of Transitional Justice Mechanisms and Contexts: Comparing Research Purposes and Design. International Journal of Transitional Justice 10(3): 492-515.
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2016). Advocating abortion rights in Northern Ireland: Local and global tensions. Social & Legal Studies 25(6): 716-740.
  • Aoláin, Fionnuala Ní, O'Rourke, Catherine & Swaine, Aisling (2015). Transforming reparations for conflict-related sexual violence: Principles and practice. Harvard Human Rights Journal 28: 97.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2015). In the Matter of an Application by Evelyn White for Judicial Review [2000] NI 432,[2004] NICA 1. In
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2014). Feminist Legal Method and the Study of Institutions. Politics \& Gender 10(4): 691-697.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2014). 'Walk [ing] the halls of power'? Understanding women's participation in international peace and security. Melbourne Journal of International Law 15: 14-11.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2014). Book review: 'Women and Wars: Contested Histories, Uncertain Futures' edited by Carol Cohn. Global Politics
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2013). Dealing with the Past in a Post-Conflict Society: Does the Participation of Women Matter? Insights from Northern Ireland. William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 19: 13-04.
  • McMinn, Karen & O'Rourke, Catherine (2013). Baseline Study on UNSCR 1325-Women and Peacebuilding Toolkit: Sharing the Learning.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2013). Book Review: S. Sharat, Gender, Shame and Sexual Violence: The Voices of Witnesses and Court Members at War Crimes Tribunals (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011)'. State Crime
  • Bell, Christine & O'Rourke, Catherine (2010). Peace agreements or pieces of paper? The impact of UNSC Resolution 1325 on peace processes and their agreements. International & Comparative Law Quarterly 59(4): 941-980.
  • O'Rourke, Catherine (2008). Shifting Signifier of Community in Transitional Justice: A Feminist Analysis, The. Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender and Society 23: 269.
  • Bell, Christine & O'Rourke, Catherine (2008). Braucht der Feminismus eine Theorie der Übergangsjustiz? Streit: Feministische Rechtszeitschrift (2): 51-63.
  • Bell, Christine & O'Rourke, Catherine (2007). Does feminism need a theory of transitional justice? An introductory essay. The International Journal of Transitional Justice 1(1): 23-44.
  • Bell, Christine & O'Rourke, Catherine (2007). The people's peace? Peace agreements, civil society, and participatory democracy. International Political Science Review 28(3): 293-324.


  • Campbell, Meghan, Hodson, Loveday, O’Rourke, Catherine, Capstick, Katie, Baca, Lucía, Bethel, Marion, Duffy, Mel, Hansen, Niels-Erik, Hutchinson, Marisa, Kimiri, Imani, Kirichenko, Kseniya, Nadaraia, Lia, Madrigal-Borloz, Victor, Moore, Alexa, & Roberts, Danielle (2022). The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Workshop Report.
  • Ahmed, Yasmine, Duddy, Sara, Hackett, Claire, Lundy, Patricia, McCallan, Mary, McKeown, Gemma, Murphy, Andrée, O'Rourke, Catherine, Patterson-Bennet, Emma, Wing, Leah & others (2016). Workshops Report: Developing Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past (Legacy Gender Integration Group, Belfast, 2015).
  • Swaine, Aisling & O’Rourke, Catherine (2015). Guidebook on CEDAW general recommendation no. 30 and the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security. UN Women.

Supervision students