Dr Noreen O'Meara

Associate Professor (Reader), Human Rights, European and Environmental Law. Co-director: Surrey Centre for International and Environmental Law (SCIEL).
+44 (0)1483 683162
10 AB 05


University roles and responsibilities

  • Co-Director of the Surrey Centre for International and Environmental Law (@SurreySCIEL)
  • Director of Joint Honours Programmes: LLB Law with International Relations
  • Society of Legal Scholars Council
  • Research Programme Lead and Fellow, Institute for Sustainability

    Affiliations and memberships

    Inner Temple
    UCD Earth, University College Dublin
    Exeter Centre for Environmental Law (ExCEL), University of Exeter
    The British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL)
    Irish Society of European Law
    UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA)
    Bar European Group (BEG)
    Council of European Studies (CES)


    Research interests



    O’Meara, N. (2023) ‘Human Rights in the Global Plastics Treaty to protect Health, Ocean Ecosystems and our Climate’ (2023) 38(3) The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 480-515.

    Shashi Kant Yadav, Noreen O'Meara, Rosalind Malcolm (2024)Conceptualizing Climate Law in India, In: Climate law14(2)pp. 165-197 Brill | Nijhoff

    Abstract This article highlights the importance of differentiating between environmental law and climate law in India, and, in doing so, analyses what counts as climate law in that country. It identifies three overarching approaches (trickle-down; Environmental Impact Assessment as climate law; and human rights law and climate change) that the current literature adopts to study and analyse climate law in India. We argue that none of these approaches comprehensively covers climate change mitigation measures adopted in this country. We propose an alternative approach to the analysis of climate law in India, which we call 'administrative layering'. Accordingly, we outline a three-step process to identify and conceptualize climate law in India.

    Noreen Christina O'Meara (2024)Priorities in the UN Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations, In: Natural Resources & Environment38(4) American Bar Association

    The United Nations’ negotiation process to draft an international legally binding instrument on plastics pollution (Global Plastics Treaty) is a historic opportunity to transform plastics governance globally. Even five years ago, the prospect of holding these negotiations was uncertain. The negotiations are taking place amid growing scientific findings revealing the impacts of plastics pollution for human health and ecosystems—and on the significant implications of the global plastics economy for climate change.

    Belay Simane, Rosalind Malcolm, Noreen O'Meara, Francis Oremo, Yhannes Geleta, Abduljelil Ahmedin (2024)Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices on Circular Economy among Senior Managers of Ethiopian Textiles and Agro-Food Processing Companies, In: Circular Economy and Sustainability Springer

    Companies are increasingly seeking to adopt a Circular Economy (CE) approach when aiming for greater corporate sustainability. In Ethiopia, a country rapidly industrializing, a CE approach in line with Ethiopia’s Green Manufacturing Strategy offers businesses a more sustainable and efficient economic approach than linear value chains. This study evaluates approaches towards implementing CE principles into novel business practices, focusing on the crucial role of senior business managers. Drawing on a sample of 145 senior managers of Ethiopian textiles and agro-food processing companies, we analysed their knowledge, attitudes, and practices vis-à-vis CE. The findings show that managers have high levels of knowledge about CE and hold positive attitudes towards it, although their companies’ practices did not reflect this. Logistic regression analysis showed that environmental management training, business circularity strategies, and the type of managerial positions are the major determinants of managers’ willingness to adopt circular practices. A critical finding was that participation in environmental management training and their managerial status negatively affect the willingness to adopt circular practices. Based on these findings, the study offers key recommendations focused on the potential to build CE models at the corporate level in developing countries, such as Ethiopia, through policy change and improved education and training.

    Nicholas Oguge, Rosalind Niven Malcolm, Katrien Steenmans, Noreen O'Meara, Francis Oremo, Matthew Peacock (2024)Gap Analysis on Waste Data Management under the Sustainable Waste Management Act (2022) and Draft Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations (2023)MST Id nr. 8295038 National Environmental Management Authority, Kenya

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The legal gap analysis on waste data management represents an important step in addressing waste management challenges in Kenya. The analysis determines the extent to which policies and laws on waste management meet the requirements on waste data and information as set out in the Sustainable Waste Management Act (2022) and the draft Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations (2023). In pursuit of this aim, the gaps and recommendations from this analysis are a product of broad and careful consideration of waste management policies and laws by reference to the Sustainable Waste Management Act (2002). The legal gaps from the analysis include: (i) lack of clear and consistent definitions of waste and waste categories; (ii) lack of precise formulation of the duty of care, including a duty to collect data, imposed within the waste management sector at national and county levels; (iii) limited data collection and recording requirements; (iv) inconsistent approach to informal sector between counties; (v) varied provisions on licencing; (vi) unclear purposes of waste data collection and reporting; (vii) lack of transparency; and (viii) gaps in data management under the latest proposed EPR Regulations (2023). Most of these gaps are linked. If there is no consistent definition of waste and types of waste, for example, then the collected data on waste may be neither consistent nor comparable, thereby making data less useful. Similarly, the purpose of data collection and reporting should underpin waste data requirements in the legal landscape and aid transparency, and varied licensing provisions results in inconsistent data collection. The gaps within the legal landscape on waste data requirements can therefore not be fully addressed in siloes. Moreover, the gaps identified are exacerbated by challenges in identifying the most recent and up-to-date documents, which inhibit understanding of licensing and waste data requirements. The varying and inconsistent approaches are also exacerbated by lack of cross-referencing between and clarity in setting out the hierarchy of relevant legislation. The recommendations made throughout the report are mutually supportive and complementary. Waste management laws should be amended to (i) provide for a harmonised definition of ‘waste’ across national and county levels and ensure consistency of data reporting; (ii) impose a duty of care upon all stakeholders in the waste management chain to support the building of an approach which monitors and measures the production and management of waste; (iii) specify and consistently implement and apply the system of reporting waste data in details; (iv) incorporate the informal sector into the formal sector, so that they are also subject to data collection and reporting requirements; (v) transition to a licensing system that aligns data collection and reporting duties; (vi) clearly and consistently state the purpose of the collection and reporting of data; and (vii) in relation to the proposed EPR regulations: clarify data requirements, develop targets for particular types of waste, ensuring consistency in reporting systems, and insert cross-referencing to other laws throughout.

    Noreen Christina O'Meara (2023)Human Rights and the Global Plastics Treaty to Protect Health, Ocean Ecosystems and Our Climate, In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law38(3)pp. 480-515 Brill Academic Publishers

    The global plastics pollution crisis has multiple visible and invisible effects on marine, land and air environments. Fossil fuel-based plastics production is projected to triple by 2060, driving a plastics lifecycle that exacerbates climate change, contaminates ecosystems and poses risks to human rights, especially the human right to health. Existing governance measures help tackle plastics waste pollution but cannot effectively address its systemic nature. Drafting a Global Plastics Treaty, due for adoption in 2025, is an opportunity to design ambitious international plastics governance. This article argues for a human rights-based approach to the proposed treaty’s framing and substance by integrating, in particular, the human right to health, supplemented by the human right to a healthy environment. Embedding human rights considerations through a precautionary and preventative approach, shifting responsibility to polluters and showing concern for intergenerational equity would combat plastics pollution, accelerate climate action, protect ocean ecosystems and safeguard human rights.

    N. O’Meara (2022)Human Rights Protection through the Lens of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the ECHR, In: K. Ambos , P. Rackow (eds.), Cambridge Companion to European Criminal Law Cambridge University Press

    The legal orders of the EU and Council of Europe (notably via the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)) have shaped the development of European Criminal Law over several decades. While both systems offer protection of fundamental rights, they are at different stages of evolution in human rights terms. On the EU’s part, an emphasis on fundamental rights was initially gradual, both judicially and legislatively. The role and prominence of fundamental rights in EU legislation and case law became more marked from the 1970s, with a swathe of non-discrimination case law directly impacting national laws on, for example, equal pay and sex-discrimination. Over time, as EU competences grew and reached deeper into what are traditionally regarded as constitutionally-sensitive policy areas (including security, asylum and immigration, criminal justice), the associated growth of EU fundamental rights law accelerated. Since the entry into force of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (‘Charter’ or ‘CFR’) in 2009, the Court of Justice has taken numerous opportunities to interpret and apply its provisions.

    Noreen O'Meara (2020)Extradition through the Lens of Brexit: The UK, Ireland and Future Prospects, In: Irish Journal of European Law22(1)pp. 47-65 The Irish Society for European Law

    This paper considers the impact of Brexit on extradition, with particular reference to the UK-Ireland extradition relationship, and the UK's post-Brexit extradition prospects. Reflecting on the evolution of the culture of extradition between Ireland and the UK offers a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics at stake. CJEU perspectives on challenges to the execution of arrest warrants on human rights grounds, in the context of Brexit, and political moves in renegotiating extradition, will be fundamental to the development and success of future arrangements. This paper argues that future UK-Ireland extradition need not be a crisis scenario, if strong efforts are made to mitigate risks. All future options involve elements of regression from the existing EAW framework - drawbacks which are already playing out during transition. It is imperative that judicial and political authorities involved in post-Brexit extradition are pragmatic when discharging duties, and overcoming the problems likely to arise, on whatever basis future extradition arrangements take shape.

    Maria Adams, Noreen O'Meara, Daniel McCarthy (2020)The Joint Enterprise Appeals Project: a crucible for student empowerment and activism?, In: Student Empowerment in Higher Education Logos Verlag
    NC O'Meara (2015)Lisbon via Stockholm, Strasbourg, and Opinion 2/13: prospects for citizen-centred protection of fundamental rights?, In: D Kostakopoulou, N Ferreira (eds.), The Human Face of the European Union: Is EU Law and Policy Humane Enough? Cambridge University Press
    T Konstadinides, N O'Meara (2015)The UK Government’s plans to renegotiate EU membership European Scrutiny Committee
    NC O'Meara (2015)Reforming the European Court of Human Rights: The Impacts of Protocols 15 and 16 ECHR, In: KS Ziegler, E Wicks, L Hodson (eds.), The UK and the European Court of Human Rights – a strained relationship? Hart Publishing
    T Konstadinides, NC O'Meara (2014)Introduction to Part II ‘Protection of Procedural and Substantive Rights in the EU and the ECHR', In: Human Rights Law in Europe: The influence, overlaps and contradictions of the EU and the ECHR(5)pp. 77-91 Routledge
    K Dzehtsiarou, T Konstadinides, T Lock, N O'Meara (2014)Human Rights Law in Europe: The influence, overlaps and contradictions of the EU and the ECHR. Routledge

    Protocol 16 ECHR will provide for an extension of the advisory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), enabling highest national courts to request advisory opinions on questions of principle concerning the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or its Protocols. This extension of the ECtHR’s advisory jurisdiction aims to achieve two goals: a reduction in the ECtHR’s excessive docket, and the enhancement of dialogue between the ECtHR and (highest) national courts. While the aims of this reform initiative are laudable, we argue that Protocol 16 is likely to fail to achieve its objectives. Our analysis suggests that rather than facilitating the Court’s adjudicatory function, extended advisory jurisdiction has the potential to impact on the Court’s constitutionalist function in a manner which can be better achieved through the Court’s contentious cases. The burden this procedure will place on the Court’s already overstretched resources would risk delays to contentious cases and potentially undermine judicial comity should requests for advisory opinions be declined. Furthermore, evidence of ‘constructive’ dialogue between highest national courts and the ECtHR is emerging in contentious cases without the need for an extended advisory opinions mechanism. Rather than achieving its objectives, Protocol 16 risks exacerbating the Court’s backlog and nullifying the positive effects of advisory opinions on dialogue.

    T Konstadinides, N O'Meara (2014)Rebalancing Judicial Protection in Criminal Matters after Lisbon and Stockholm, In: DA Arcarazo, C Murphy (eds.), EU Security and Justice Law: After Lisbon and Stockholm Hart Publishing

    This volume examines the state of EU security and justice law after the Lisbon Treaty and the Stockholm Programme. It provides a critical examination of EU law in the fields of immigration, asylum, counter-terrorism, citizenship, fundamental rights and external relations.

    Noreen Christina O'Meara (2023)Concretizing International Plastics Governance through a UN Global Plastics Treaty, In: Environmental Liability: Law, Policy and Practice27(5)pp. 117-127 Lawtext Publishing

    A negotiation process underway to design a global treaty on plastics waste pollution presents a unique opportunity to concretise plastics governance at international level. The mandate to negotiate an internationally binding legal instrument was laid down in UNEA Resolution 5/14, adopted at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) 5.2 in March 2022. Setting that mandate was historic in recognising the multiple threats posed by the rising scale of plastics production, consumption and waste for our climate, biodiversity, and emerging concerns for human health. The resolution effectively acknowledged that binding international legal obligations are needed to tackle the complex and diverse problems caused by plastics pollution globally, rather than reliance on voluntary agreements and goals.