Methven O'Brien, Claire


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Claire Methven O’Brien an internationally recognised expert in  business and human rights, with twenty years' experience of advising and supporting governments, international businesses, financial institutions and civil society organisations engage with and implement human rights standards. 

Her expertise is regularly sought by the European Union, Council of Europe, the UN and other global bodies, national governments, professional and industry associations.

Claire is a Reader in Law at the University of Dundee, following her appointment as a Baxter Fellow in 2020.

In 2022, Claire was appointed by the Scottish Parliament as a Commissioner of the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Claire is also a Global Practitioner attached to the University of Strathclyde's Business School, and an Honorary Lecturer at the University of St. Andrews Business School.

She was formerly Senior Researcher and Chief Advisor at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Denmark's National Human Rights Institution. 

Since joining the University of Dundee in 2020, Claire has established the LLM Business and Human Rights, the first such course worldwide.

Claire holds a PhD from the European University Institute, Florence, and other degrees from Queens’ College, University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics and Political Science  and City, University London. Claire is a Barrister called to the London Bar and a member of the Middle Temple.

She has been a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and held visiting positions at the University of Groningen Department for International Law and New York University School of Law.

Since 2023, she has been appointed European Visiting Expert to the European Commission's Jean Monnet Center of Excellence on Business and Human Rights, FECAP, Brazil.

She is also an Associate of the University of Greenwich’s Business, Human Rights and the Environment Research Group

Claire has been invited to speak at leading international academic institutions, including at the University of Lisbon, University of Murcia, University of Zurich, Strathmore University Nairobi, University of Pretoria Human Rights Centre, University of Groningen, Åbo Akademi University, University of Leiden, University of Copenhagen, University of Oslo, Norwegian School of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, King's College London, Kyoto University, Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, Universidad La Sabana Colombia, the University of Auckland and the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School.

Claire's publications include the Council of Europe’s Business and human rights. A Handbook for Legal Practitioners, Public procurement and human rights: Opportunities, Risks and Dilemmas for the State as Buyer, and Research Methods in Human Rights (forthcoming). 

Her work has been cited and relied on by bodies such as the United Nations, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, European Union and numerous governments worldwide.

Claire sits on the Editorial Board of the Business and Human Rights Journal (Cambridge University Press) and the International Editorial Board of the Zeitschrift für Corporate Responsibility & Recht der Lieferkette.

Claire is a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.

She is also a Member of the Law Society of Scotland's Constitutional Law and Human Rights Sub-Committee.

She is a member of the Society of Legal Scholars and the International Law Association.


Claire leads Realising the SDGs: The role of responsible business, a major research grant programme funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs/DANIDA, Research collaboration projects in Danida priority countries (EUR1.26million/9.4 million DKK, Apr 2018-May 2022).

She has also been Co-Principal Investigator on research grants from the British Academy and Carnegie Trust.

Since 2020, she has been awarded Strategic Development and Interdisciplinary Incubator Grants by the University of Dundee's Institute for Social Sciences Research.  


Course Director, LLM Business and Human Rights

LW52022 International Human Rights: Law, Theory and Practice

LW51128 Businesss and Human Rights

LW52416 Corporate Sustainability and ESG Law


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Laws, Human rights and transnational corporations: For a multi-level governance approach, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole

Award Date: 1 Oct 2009

Master of Laws, Public Law, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Bachelor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

External positions

Global Practitioner, University of Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde

1 Apr 2022 → …

Commissioner, Scottish Human Rights Commission

Sept 2021 → …

Senior Researcher (Associate Professor), Danish Institute for Human Rights

Honorary Lecturer, University of St Andrews


  • K Law (General)
  • Human rights law
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • KZ Law of Nations
  • Human rights law; non-state actors
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • JX International law
  • Human Rights
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Treaty Effectiveness
  • JZ International relations
  • Human Rights
  • governance
  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Human Rights
  • Corporate Social Responsibility


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