The Geneva Academy Mourns the Loss of Professor Christof Heyns

30 March 2021

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.

Christof Heyns at the 31st regular session of the Human Rights Council. 22 March 2016

‘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, former 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.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

GHRP staff in New York UN headquarters News

GHRP's 2023 Conference Strengthens Geneva-New York Human Rights Interconnectedness

6 November 2023

This landmark event of our Geneva Human Rights Platform focused on the need to bridge the gap between Geneva-based human rights mechanisms and the UN in New York, based on the interrelated nature of human rights issues across both cities.

Read more

Keyboard with helpdesk News

New Paper Discusses the Establishment of a Global Helpdesk on Business and Human Rights

11 December 2023

Our new Research Brief discusses the proposal to establish a global helpdesk on business and human rights at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Read more

Garment workersto receive food from their factory during lunch time. This food is freely provided by their factory in order to ensure that workers eat healthy and hygienic food. Training

Business and Human Rights

2-6 September 2024

This training course will examine how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have been utilized to advance the concept of business respect for human rights throughout the UN system, the impact of the Guiding Principles on other international organizations, as well as the impact of standards and guidance developed by these different bodies.

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

Read more

First annual conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform Project

The Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Started in June 2019

Read more

George Floyd protest in Washington D.C. Project

Promoting and Protecting the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association and Civic Space Worldwide

Started in June 2020

This project aims at providing support to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association Clément Voulé by addressing emerging issues affecting civic space and eveloping tools and materials allowing various stakeholders to promote and defend civic space.

Read more

Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Unpacking the Burgeoning Challenge of Environmental Protection and the Right to Food in the Context of Armed Conflict

published on April 2024

Erica Harper, Junli Lim

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Briefing N° 23: The Human Rights Data Revolution

published on April 2024

Domenico Zipoli

Read more