Archive launch and symposium to mark the legacy of Professor Kevin Boyle

The late Professor Kevin Boyle.

The late Professor Kevin Boyle.

The legacy of world-renowned human rights lawyer and scholar, the late Professor Kevin Boyle, endures at NUI Galway with the launch of his personal archive on Friday, 28 November by the Attorney General, Máire Whelan, S.C. The archive contains a wealth of material and unique insights into the field of human rights, legal research and scholarship.

An international symposium, hosted by NUI Galway’s School of Law and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, will take place on the same day to celebrate Professor Boyle’s career, with Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, providing the keynote address.

Professor Boyle, who came originally from Newry, began his career at Queen’s University Belfast where he was deeply engaged in the civil rights movement. In the late 1970s he joined NUI Galway where he co-founded the Irish Centre for Human Rights with Denny Driscoll in 1980.

In the early 1980s he was involved with Amnesty International, Ireland, which saw him compile research and observations on trips to countries like Gambia and South Africa - where Boyle compiled key reports on the effect on the 'pass law' system and of the wider apartheid regime.

“The legacy which Kevin Boyle has left our University is one of which we are proud and which reverberates to this day”, said Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway. “Our internationally recognised expertise in international human rights law embeds NUI Galway in a global movement seeking to change the world for the better. This we owe in huge part to Kevin, who pioneered scholarship in this area, founded our centre for human rights and for over four decades pushed for change for human rights for all. His archive is a permanent reminder of this legacy and one with which we are delighted to be associated.”

Professor Boyle appeared frequently before the European Court of Human Rights, winning important cases that dealt with a broad range of issues, including freedom of expression, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and torture.

Comprising of over one hundred boxes of manuscripts and printed books, the Boyle archive is a documented record of the varied and rich contribution made by the activist and scholar to international human rights. The archive, kindly donated by the Boyle family since Kevin’s untimely passing in 2010, has now been catalogued by the University’s James Hardiman Library, and represents a major resource for the study and teaching of human rights.

The library at NUI Galway holds a unique collection of more than 350 literary, theatrical, political and historical archives, dating from 1485 to the present. John Cox, University Librarian, NUI Galway, explains the significance of the Boyle archive: “The sheer breadth of subject matter, as well as the vast amounts of personal correspondence, allow for new insights and understandings of Kevin Boyle’s contributions to the discipline of human rights and the practice of law. It is an honour for the Library to be entrusted with this archive, one which illustrates the far reaching effect Kevin Boyle’s work had on individual people’s lives. Now and into the future, the archive will serve as a valuable resource to researchers in the field.”

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