Kevin Boyle was one of the world’s great human rights lawyers. In a career that lasted decades and spanned continents, he tackled issues ranging from freedom of the press to terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism to the rights of gay people, women and minorities. This compelling account of Kevin Boyle’s life and work is an inspiring tale of how a taxi driver’s son from Northern Ireland became a globally renowned activist, advocate, and academic, inspiring the human rights movement around the world.
Born in Newry in 1943, Boyle attended Queen’s University Belfast in the early 1960s, beginning to teach law in 1966. He was a co-founder of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and the People’s Democracy, mediated during the 1981 hunger strikes and helped forge the intellectual underpinning of the agreement that ended the Troubles. Through a series of landmark cases at the European Court of Human Rights, he left an enduring mark on international human rights law, campaigning against apartheid in South Africa and repression in Turkey. He also played a critical role as the senior advisor to Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as helping to found human rights law centres at universities from Ireland and Britain to Brazil and Japan.
Though Kevin Boyle was a towering figure in his field, his personal story and his impact in crucial areas is not well known. Now, based on years of research, thousands of documents, and scores of interviews, former CNN correspondent Mike Chinoy has crafted the compelling life story of a remarkable Irishman.
As a foreign correspondent for CNN for 24 years, Mike Chinoy won Emmy, Peabody and Dupont awards for his journalism. While he worked primarily in China and North Korea, he also reported on the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s. It was during this time that he met Kevin Boyle. Chinoy is currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s US-China Institute and is based in Hong Kong. His books include China Live: People, Power, and Television Revolution (1999), Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis (2008), and The Last POW (2014). His work has been widely acclaimed across the globe.
Photo credit: (c) Victor Patterson
Cover design: Daniel Gray