UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré>
The Geneva Academy is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Professor Christof Heyns.
‘It is with great sadness that we learned about the passing of Christof Heyns. We will miss him as a professor, a human rights expert, an academic and a friend. He was an incredible force of inspiration for all of us at the Geneva Academy – students, researchers and professors’ says Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy. ‘Our thoughts today go to his loved ones, family and friends’ she adds.
Professor Heyns has been teaching a course on the right to life and the right of peaceful assembly during transitions in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) since the launch of this programme back in 2016. He has been sharing with our students his extensive knowledge on this issue and his practical experience notably as a former United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee and as a South African human rights lawyer.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
‘Our students appreciated his availability, passion for human rights, as well as his capacity to link theory with practice, always showing the relevance of the law to very concrete situations. During the drafting of General Comment 37 by the UN Human Rights Committee on peaceful assembly, he invited a class to witness this unique exercise and listen to debates among experts – an experience they still remember today’ recall Thomas Unger and Frank Haldemann, co-Directors of the MTJ.
Professor Heyns was also key in the development of the UN Human Rights Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement – the outcome of research and broad consultations carried out under the auspices of the Geneva Academy and the University of Pretoria.
‘Christof was one of the driving forces behind these guidelines and we worked together during three years on this issue. His extensive knowledge and capacity to bring various stakeholders around the table were key to develop this much-needed international guidance on the design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of LLWs’ says Felix Kirchmeier, Manager of Policy Studies at the Geneva Academy and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.
‘Our collaboration also included work on UN treaty bodies in particular on the ‘2020+ Database’ on the implementation of their recommendations on the ground: we will miss his vision, commitment, expertise and kindness’ he adds.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
The Geneva Human Rights Platform is collaborating with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and OHCHR in the development of an online database aimed at assessing the impact of the UN human rights treaty body system.
Andrew Songa serves as the Delegate to the African Union for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). In this interview, he tells about the programme and what it brought to his career.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will provide participants with an introduction to substantive human rights law. It will start with an introduction to the nature and sources of international human rights law and its place in the international legal system. The course will then provide a presentation of the main principles applicable to substantive rights (jurisdiction, obligation and limitations).
This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy