Columbia Law School and the Human Rights Institute Mourn the Loss of Human Rights Pioneer Sir Nigel Rodley
January 26, 2017, NEW YORK-With great sadness, Columbia Law School and the Human Rights Institute mark the passing of Professor Sir Nigel RodleyKBE (LLM ’65), a pillar of the international human rights movement. Sir Nigel will be greatly missed by the human rights and legal community at Columbia Law School, the University,and around the globe.
As a pioneering human rights lawyer, advocate, educator, and mentor, Sir Nigel was a determined, articulate, and persistent voice for human rights victims. As the Legal Adviser for Amnesty International from 1973 to 1990, he was a passionateopponent of torture, disappearance, and the death penalty under dictatorships in the Americas and beyond. He played a central role in drafting the UN Convention against Torture, and went on from 1993 to 2001 to serve as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, where he produced path-breaking work recognizing rape and sexual violence against women as torture. Sir Nigel authored the leading work on The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law, in a long and distinguished career that included roles as Chair and member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (2001 – 2016), and a founder of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex (UK). He was currently the President of the International Commission of Jurists. For his life-long service to international law and human rights, he was knighted by the Queen in 1998.
“For decades, Sir Nigel has been a giant of the human rights movement,” said Professor Sarah Cleveland, Louis HenkinProfessor of Human and Constitutional Rights, faculty co-director of the Human Rights Institute, and a colleague of Sir Nigel on the U.N. Human Rights Committee. “He has been a guiding light, who inspired generations of students and lawyers to pursue a career in human rights. On the Human Rights Committee, he was known for tough and pointed questions to states, hisencyclopedic knowledge of human rights law and practice, and his dry and mischievous wit.”
“Sir Nigel’s pervasive influence on the protection of human rights worldwide cannot be overstated,” said Alex Moorehead, Lecturer-in-Law and Director of the Project on Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict and Human Rights at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute. “I was lucky enough to be one of Sir Nigel’s students at the University of Essex. Kind, always approachable and generous with his time, Sir Nigel’s determined, principled and fearless approach to human rights advocacy has been an inspiration to me.”
Sir Nigel was a close friend of Columbia Law School and the Human Rights Institute. We will miss him immensely, but we will strive to carry his legacy forward in these troubled times.
The Human Rights Institute advances international human rights through education, advocacy, fact-finding, research, scholarship, and critical reflection. We work in partnership with advocates, communities, and organizations pushing for social change to develop and strengthen the human rights legal framework and mechanisms, promote justice and accountability for human rights violations, and build and amplify collective power.
Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin as the anchor for human rights within Columbia Law School, the Human Rights Institute promotes engagement and knowledge of human rights within the law school, throughout the University, and around world. Across the many substantive areas of its work, the Institute builds bridges between scholarship and activism, develops capacity within the legal community, engages governments, and models new strategies for progress.