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John Adenitire's picture


Education CV

PhD in Law, University of Cambridge (2015 – 2018)

  • Thesis title: A General Legal Right to Conscientious Exemption: Beyond Religious Privilege
  • Chair and then Co-Chair of the Cambridge Pro Bono Project (2016-2018)
  • Co-Convenor of the conference 'Toleration and Religious Freedom in the Early Modern and Contemporary World: An Interdisciplinary Conversation' (March 2019)
  • Editor and then Managing Editor of the Cambridge International Law Journal (2015-2016 and 2016-2017) 
  • Convenor of the conference 'Conscience Conference: Exempting Conscientious Beliefs in UK Law' (13 June 2017)
  • Co-convenor of the Cambridge Doctoral Workshop in Legal Theory 2016

Visiting Research Fellow, Yale Law School, The Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights (September 2016)

MJur, University of Durham (2011-2012)

  • 50,000 words thesis in legal philosophy passed without corrections
  • Thesis Title: ‘Making Sense of the Disagreements about the Nature of Law: The Puzzles of Normativity and Human Autonomy’
  • Supervisors: Prof Deryck Beyleveld (primary), Prof Gavin Phillipson   

LLB,  University of Birmingham (2007-2010)

  • 1st class law degree (top 3 student in cohort)


  • CRASSH Conference Funding (£2500) for the Toleration and Religious Freedom Conference
  • Fitzwilliam College Senior Scholarship (£300)
  • Yorke Fund, Faculty of Law, Cambridge (£400)
  • Graduate Tutors' Fund, Fitzwilliam College (£800)
  • Santander Scholarship (£500)
  • Cambridge AHRC Partnership (DTP) Scholarship (PhD fees + £14,057 stipend per year)
  • Dickson Poon (Postgraduate) Scholarship (PhD fees + £20,000 stipend per year) (declined)
  • University College Employability Scholarship (£250) by University College, Durham
  • Research grant (£625) by Durham Law School to fund an internship at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • Full scholarship (full fees and stipend - total value £11,000+) by Durham Law School for MJur studies
  • Sir Henry Barber Scholarship (£100) by Birmingham Law School for being one of the four students to graduate with a 1st class degree in the academic year 2009/2010
  • St. Phillips Chambers Prize (£1,000) by Birmingham Law School for obtaining one of the three highest exam averages in the academic year 2008/2009

 Professional Experience

  • Academic Year 2017– 2018                    Supervisor in LLM graduate workshops in Civil Liberties and Human Rights course, Law Faculty, University of Cambridge 
  • July – August 2017                                  Lecturer in Human Rights Law, Pembroke-King’s Programme
  • Academic Year 2016 – 2017                   Supervisor in EU Law, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
  • June – August 2016                                Lecturer in Tort and Criminal Law, Research Supervisor in Constitutional and Administrative Law, Pembroke-King’s Programme
  • March 2016                                             Research Assistant, British Academy
  • September 2013 – September 2015       Trainee Solicitor, Mills & Reeve LLP  
  • April 2013 – July 2013                            Consultant, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law
  • September 2012 – June 2013                 Visiting Lecturer in Public Law, University of Birmingham
  • February 2012 – September 2012          Research Assistant, UK Commission on a Bill of Rights
  • October 2011 – June 2012                      Research Assistant, Durham Law School
  • June 2011 – October 2011                      Intern, UCL Constitution Unit

Fields of research

Freedom of conscience and religion, comparative public law, human rights law, constitutional law, philosophy of law, political philosophy


A General Legal Right to Conscientious Exemption: Beyond Religious Privilege


The thesis shows that there is a general legal right to exemption for conscientious objectors in the USA, Canada and UK. It shows that it is a limited right: exemptions may be lawfully denied to protect the rights of others or important public interests. The thesis then investigates whether such a legal right is exclusively reserved for religious believers. The thesis shows that it is not: it is available to those that object on the basis of conscience, irrespective of whether their conscience is motivated by religious or non-religious beliefs. The thesis concludes by defending the existence of this general right by appealing to liberal values.


David Feldman, TRS Allan (advisor)

Representative Publications



  • ‘Conscientious Exemptions: From Toleration to Neutrality; From Neutrality to Respect' (2017) Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 6(2), 268-292.
  • ‘A Conscience-Based Human Right to be “Doctor Death”’ [2016] Public Law 613, 613-630.
  • ‘The BMA’s Guidance on Conscientious Objection May be Contrary to Human Rights Law’ (published on Online First in March 2016) [2017] Journal of Medical Ethics 43(4), 260-263 (special JME issue 'Conscientious Objections').
  • ‘SAS v France: Fidelity to Law and Conscience’ [2015] (1) European Human Rights Law Review, 78-86.

Book Chapters

  • 'Introduction' in J. Adenitire (ed.), ‘Religious Beliefs and Conscientious Exemptions in a Liberal State’ (Hart Publishing 2019, forthcoming).
  • ‘Who Should Give Effect to Conscientious Exemptions? The Case for Institutional Synergy’ in J. Adenitire (ed.), ‘Religious Beliefs and Conscientious Exemptions in a Liberal State’ (Hart Publishing 2019, forthcoming).
  • ‘Conscientious Exemptions in a Liberal State’ in J. Adenitire (ed.), ‘Religious Beliefs and Conscientious Exemptions in a Liberal State’ (Hart Publishing 2019, forthcoming).

Case Comments

  • 'Ideological Neutrality in the Workplace' (2018) Modern Law Review 81(2), 337–360 (co-authored with Zoe Adams).
  • ‘Has the ECHR Recognised a Legal Right to Glance at a Smile?’ [2015] Law Quarterly Review 131 (Jan), 43-48.

Review Essays

  • 'The Irrelevance of Religion' (2017) Jurisprudence 8(2), 405-414.
  • ‘Between Institutional and Moral Discourse: On Alexy’s Legal Philosophy’ [2013] Jurisprudence 4(2), 358-364.

Book Reviews and Reports

  • Book review of T. Poole, Reason of State (CUP 2015) [2016] Cambridge Law Journal 75(3), 620-623.
  • Book review of R. Masterman and I. Leigh (eds.), The United Kingdom’s Statutory Bill of Rights (UOP/British Academy 2013) [2014] Public Law 591, 591-595.
  • Book review of K. Möller, The Global Model of Constitutional Rights (OUP 2012) [2014] Human Rights Law Review 14(1), 159-164.
  •  (Co-author) ‘Deestoori Ambassadors and Guides Manual’ (Training manual for public engagement in the drafting of a new constitution for Libya) [2012] (Project by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law; used by Lawyers For Justice in Libya; Printed by White & Case LLP).
  • ‘Judicial Independence in Europe: The Swedish, Italian and German Perspectives’ (20,000 words research note) [2012] UCL Constitution Unit, The Politics of Judicial Independence project website (Translated into Bulgarian and available at

Legal Blogging

Selected Conference Papers

  • Research seminar on Chapter 1 of R. Dworkin, Religion Without God (HUP 2013) (CFLPP Monthly Seminar, 24 November 2017).
  • ‘The Irrelevance of Religion’ (Research seminar at Yale Law School, 20 September 2016).
  • ‘Nehushtan’s Unsuccessful Attack on the Liberal Model of Conscientious Exemptions’ (Invited panellist member on book symposium, Law and Religion Scholars Network annual conference, Cardiff, 5 May 2016).
  • ‘Three institutional schemes for dealing with conscientious objectors to celebrating same-sex marriages’ (Cambridge Law Faculty, PhD Seminar Series, 1 December 2015).
  • ‘The Instrumental Principles of the Rule of Law in Contemporary Pluralistic Societies’ (Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference, Jurisprudence section, Nottingham 2014).
  • ‘Can a New Theory on the Rule of Law Help Solve the Legal Problems of S.A.S. v France?’ (Annual Birmingham Law School Postgraduate Research Conference, 13 June 2014).
  • ‘The Identity of Law’s Subjects as Autonomous Agents and its Implication for the Formal Rule of Law’ (International Graduate Law Conference, King’s College London, 9 April 2013).
  • ‘Asking the Right Questions: Preventing Terrorism while Complying with the Rule of Law’ (Queen Mary Annual PhD Law Conference, 22 May 2012).

Start Date

Oct 2015

End date

Oct 2018