Reilly holds a BFA from Boston University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and an MPH from Columbia University. She worked in the field for a decade on advocacy and policy change, primarily on women’s rights issues and the right to health. She has extensive experience with the UN system, in both Geneva and New York. Reilly has also worked on issues of human rights violations in South Africa and Poland and was part of the legal team that brought the case of Alyne da Silva Pimental v. Brazil to CEDAW, the first time the UN system officially recognised maternal mortality as a human rights issue.

Reilly is very interested in teaching and clinical opportunities for law students. While at NYU School of Law, she had the pleasure and privilege of working with Professor Derrick Bell, world renowned civil rights activist, as a teaching assistant for his US Constitutional Law class. Reilly was also a senior teaching assistant for NYU’s innovative Lawyering Programme. At UEA, Reilly is now active with the Outreach programme, teaching “taster” sessions for under-represented and harder to reach groups. She was part of the teaching team for the International Summer School and will be teaching Legal Methods in Autumn 2016. Reilly is also a research assistant on an Economic and Research Council funded project through the School of International Development, exploring the role of international and local norms in the protection of human rights for dam-affected populations in Sudan.

Reilly was recently awarded the 2016 UEA Law School Award for Outstanding Publication by a Research Student and is the recipient of a Faculty level studentship. Reilly’s dissertation at Columbia University won Honourable Mention for the Distinguished Masters Award, and while at NYU she was the winner of the 2006 Hy Frankel Award in Law and Social Welfare. Reilly was twice awarded the NYU President’s Award for Volunteerism and earned Honourable Mention for the Pro Bono Publico Award from the National Association of Legal Professionals and Public Service Law Net (US).

Key Research Interests

Reilly Anne Dempsey Willis specialises in the role of civil society in effecting human rights change, particularly in the areas of gender equality and women’s rights. Her thesis looks at how social media has changed how transnational advocacy networks can impact domestic human rights, perhaps for the worse. With empirical evidence, she will explore different independent variables and their impact on domestic legal landscapes. Her research uses the spiral model of human rights change and constructivist theories of norm institutionalisation. She is using a novel methodology of “norm coding” which uses a mixed methods approach to quantify and statistically understand normative change in the field of human rights.

Reilly’s Key Publications and Presentations:

• “Framing the Position of Social Media in the Local Institutionalisation of Human Rights Norms”, co-authored with Benjamin Mason Meier, in Localizing Global Institutions. The Impact of International Development Cooperation, eds. Bonaker and von Heusinger (2016).

• “Maternity Matters in Camden” co-authored with Louise Hulton, Andrea Nove, and Sara Nam. Midwives’ Magazine, published January 2012

• “Addressing fertility decline in the EU through reproductive rights”, presented at The Centre for Research on Families and Relationships 3rd International Conference, Edinburgh, June 2010

• “The Human Rights Perspective”, co-authored with Lynn Freedman and Joanne Csete, in The Globalization of Motherhood, Wendy Chavkin and JaneMaree Maher (eds.), 2009

• “Going Negative: How Reproductive Rights Discourse Has Been Altered from a Positive to a Negative Rights Framework in Support of 'Women's Rights'”, co-authored with Benjamin Meier, in Women’s Global Health and Human Rights, Padmini Murthy and Clyde Lanford Smith (eds.), 2008.