By Kevin Jon Heller
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my friend and Doughty Street colleague Sir Nigel Rodley. Cribbing from the statement issued by the International Commission of Jurists, of which Nigel was President:
Elected President of the ICJ in 2012, he was serving his third term as such. He had been first elected to the Commission in 2003 and re-elected in 2008 and 2013. He served as a member of the Executive Committee from 2004-2006.
He was also a Council member of JUSTICE, the British Section of the International Commission of Jurists.
Professor Sir Nigel Rodley was a towering figure in the area of international human rights, playing many roles as an educator, as an academic, as an activist and as an advocate.
He established and expanded the first human rights law department at Amnesty International in the 1970s and 1980s, leading the organization’s work on the development and promotion on international legal standards.
He spent eight years, from 1993 to 2001, as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture, visiting dozens of countries and working tenaciously toward the eradication of torture worldwide.
From 2001 to 2016 he served on the UN Human Rights Committee, including a period as it Chairman, where he often served as the intellectual author of the Committee’s most prominent accomplishments.
I’m sure many [...] readers knew Nigel, someone for whom the expression “towering figure” seems specifically invented. Although our paths had crossed both virtually and physically for a number of years, I did not get to know Nigel particularly well until we went to Beijing together a couple of years ago as part of a Chatham House project entitled “China and the Future of the International Legal Order.” I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time with Nigel during that trip, including flying back with him. (Nigel almost missed the trip because he left his wallet in our taxi.) After that, we were fast friends.
You would be hard pressed to find a kinder, more gracious person than Nigel. He will be sorely missed — by me and by anyone else who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Requiescat in pace, Sir Nigel.
This blog was originally posted on Opinio Juris.
More tributes from Nigel's colleagues in Doughty Street Chambers can be viewed by clicking here.