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Prof Kevin Boyle, a prominent scholar and human rights activist, died on Christmas day 2010

Prof Kevin Boyle passed away on Christmas day, 2010, aged 67. Prof Boyle was one of the most prominent human rights lawyers and educators. He was barrister and law professor, among others, at the Essex University Law School, where he led, from 1990 to 2003 and then from 2006 to 2007, the Human Rights Center. In 1980 he had founded the Irish Centre for Human Rights, at the Galway National University (then University College). His celebrity as a prominent international human rights lawyer is linked to the successful cases he argued before the European Court of Human Rights, where Turkey was condemned for killing and torturing Kurdish political opponents. Kevin Boyle worked for Amnesty International and studied human rights violations in South Africa during the apartheid regime as well as in other African countries. He was the director of Article 19, an ONG that vigorously campaigned in support of writer Salman Rushdie, threatened by Ayatollah Khomeyni’s fatwa, and chaired, till 2008, Minority Rights Group International. In the 60s and 70 prof Boyle, who was born in a modest catholic family in Northern Ireland, was actively involved in civil rights movements and peaceful conflict resolution groups in Ulster and Ireland. In 2001 the UN High Commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, wanted him as her senior adviser in Geneva, where he greatly contributed to the reform of the human rights monitoring system, in the delicate post-September 11 season.

The contribution of Prof Kevin Boyle to the cause of human rights has been invaluable, both in courts and in the academy. The world-wide human rights community mourns his departure.