Aonghus Kelly is a lawyer who has a focus on the rule of law, international criminal law, human rights and the intersection of those areas with climate justice. He is presently Executive Director at Irish Rule of Law International, (IRLI) which is the legal NGO founded by and representing the bars and law societies from both jurisdictions from the island of Ireland which works overseas.
He is also a member of the Legal Action Committee at the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), which uses innovative legal strategies to challenge global injustice. He previously spent time with the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Libya, as a defence lawyer at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, often known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, at the Special Prosecution Office of the Republic of Kosovo and the State Prosecutors Office of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Prior to that he spent time, working as a solicitor in England, working on cases involving the aftermath of the war on Iraq in 2004, and in general practice in Ireland.
Aonghus sets out his somewhat indirect path into legal practice and how his career has been punctuated by learning – whether in the area of human rights or, most recently, sustainability. He describes the lightbulb moment that led him to switch from commercial practice into international human rights law, and the character traits that enable him to stay upbeat and focused in this area which can be emotionally difficult. The key to maintaining a positive outlook in this area is, according to Aonghus, focusing on the law of cumulative effect, that every action, slowly over time, will accumulate to have the desired effect.
We examine some of the advances in this area, particularly the increasing alignment between human rights law and international environmental law (a theme also mentioned in the podcast in this series with Meriam Nazih Al-Rashid) and the advice that Aonghus would have for students entering the area.
Aonghus gave the following Ted-X talk: “Why We Kill Each Other: The Creation of The Other.” You can find it on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AoXTMcT4uo&t=16s
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