William O'Neill

Research field: Human Rights, refugee law

Institution: Social Science Research Council, New York

Position: Program director

Group: International Advisory Board

Biography :


William O’Neill is a lawyer specializing in humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.   He was Senior Advisor on Human Rights in the UN Mission in Kosovo, Chief of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda and led the Legal Department of the UN/OAS Mission in Haiti. He has worked on judicial, police and prison reform in Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Timor Leste, Nepal and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  He investigated mass killings in Afghanistan for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He also conducted an assessment of the human rights situation in Darfur and trained the UN’s human rights monitors stationed there. At the request of the UN’s Executive Committee on Peace and Security, he chaired a Task Force on Developing Rule of Law Strategies in Peace Operations.  He has created and delivered courses on human rights, rule of law and peacekeeping for several peacekeeping training centers whose participants have included senior military, police and humanitarian officials from dozens of countries. He has published widely on rule of law, human rights and peacekeeping, including, “Kosovo:  An Unfinished Peace” and “Protecting Two Million Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur.” His “Basic Principles on Human Rights Field Work” is widely used by practitioners and trainers.  The New York Times, Washington Post, Radio France Internationale, NPR and the BBC are among the major media outlets who regularly approach O’Neill for commentary and analysis. O’Neill has been a visiting professor of law and international relations at Haverford College (PA) and the Scuola Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy.  He is currently the Director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum in New York City.

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