Michael O' Flaherty was elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in January 2024. He is the fifth Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, succeeding Dunja Mijatović (2018-2024), Nils Muižnieks (2012-2018), Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Álvaro Gil-Robles y Gil-Delgado (1999-2006). The Commissioner's mandate lasts for six years and is non-renewable.

An Irish human rights lawyer, O' Flaherty has served as Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (2015-2023), as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (2004-2012), as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (2011-2013), and in various posts at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, notably in setting up operations in conflict-affected countries such as Sierra Leone and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Throughout his decades-long commitment to human rights, he has made significant contributions to their promotion and protection, including through the publication of books and articles and through teaching at various universities.