The University of Essex’s superb Human Rights Centre along with their School of Law is to honour Professor Kevin Boyle who passed away on 25 December 2010. The event – which is open to all – will take place on Saturday 26 November at the Ivor Crewe Auditorium at the Colchester Campus of the university starting at 9.30am and finishing at 6.30pm.
|Professor Kevin Boyle. Photo from The Guardian.|
‘The event,’ explained the Human Rights Centre, ‘pays tribute to his legacy in all these areas by focusing on those fields of human rights that were of special importance to him, such as freedom of expression and religion, minority rights, democracy and human rights, and states of emergency.’
In my role as one of the Assistant Editors for the Essex Human Rights Review journal I was lucky enough to get to read and edit a book review by Professor Boyle. Sadly, his entry in that volume was the last of his contributions to the journal.
Professor Boyle had been instrumental in the founding of the journal and served on the Review’s advisory board from its inception and his support was unwaning. He was also important in the continued success of the multi-disciplinary Human Rights Centre of which he was director from 1990 to 2003. He had been Professor of Law at the University of Essex since the previous year.
As well as his academic and legal pursuits (which included founding the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway), Boyle was an effective, intelligent and vocal activist. In the late 1980s he became the founding director of Article 19 ‘a human rights organisation dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide’ (Rodley, 2011). In this role, he initiated a high profile campaign regarding the controversy surrounding the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988). Furthermore, in the 1990s he took up the cause of the Kurdish villagers being savagely treated by the Turkish state. However, this was just a small snippet of his noteworthy and often vital activities.
The keynote speaker for the Memorial Conference will be Mary Robinson who, as well as being the former President of Ireland (1990-97), was also UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) during which time she requested Professor Boyle to join her in Geneva as senior advisor and speech writer.
For those unable to get to the event itself, happily you will be able to watch a live stream via ustream. You will also be able to follow the progress on Twitter with the #kevinmemorial hashtag.
- ‘In Memoriam Kevin Boyle’, Essex Human Rights Review, vol. 7, no. 2 (2011)
- Nigel Rodley, ‘Kevin Boyle obituary’, The Guardian, 2 January 2011
- Ruth Dudley Edward, ‘Obituary: Kevin Boyle’, Independent (Dublin), 2 January 2011