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Durham Law School


Dr James A. Sweeney, LLB (ELS)(Hons.), PGCertAP, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Durham Law School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42827
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 42801
Room number: PCL114
Member of the Human Rights Centre


Dr James A. Sweeney’s research is about the after-effects of conflict: principally human rights in transitional democracies and the rights of refugees. His book, 'The European Court of Human Rights in the post-Cold War Era: Universality in Transition' will be published by Routledge in November 2012. His work on the human rights of failed asylum seekers was cited by the House of Lords in the case of R (on the application of M) v Slough BC [2008] UKHL 52, and by the Court of Appeal in R. (on the application of SL) v Westminster City Council [2011] EWCA Civ 954.

Dr Sweeney has acted as an expert advisor to the Council of Europe in relation to freedom of assembly projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan (with the Venice Commission), Georgia, and Kosovo. In March 2011 he delivered human rights legal training to judges of the Ukrainian Supreme Court as part of a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office project. Throughout 2009 he acted as an expert advisor to the EU's Committee of the Regions as it prepared its Opinion on reforms to the Common European Asylum System.

Dr Sweeney joined Durham University Law School as a Lecturer in August 2006. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010.  In 2011 he became Deputy Director of Durham Global Security Institute.  He studied for his LLB (European Legal Studies) degree at the Universities of Hull and Utrecht, graduating in 1998. He returned to Hull to read for his PhD, entitled ‘Margins of appreciation, cultural relativity and the European Court of Human Rights’, which he completed in 2003. He was a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Hull University Law School from 1998-2001, and a lecturer at Newcastle University Law School from 2001 to 2006.

Dr Sweeney was the founder of the 'Law and Conflict at Durham' (LCD) research cluster (with Dr Matt Saul and Aoife O'Donoghue).

Teaching Areas

UK Constitutional Law
International Human Rights Law



Research Interests

  • European and international human rights law, especially the ‘margin of appreciation’ doctrine
  • Refugee and asylum law

Selected Grants

  • 2010: Cyber warfare LOAC manual drafting meeting (£8273.00 from CCDCOE)

Selected Publications

Essays in edited volumes

Journal papers: academic

Show all publications