Human rights and historic ruins on free lecture agenda at the University of Buckingham

Justice Michael Kirby. Picture: Marcus Mok
Justice Michael Kirby. Picture: Marcus Mok

Two free lectures at the University of Buckingham will welcome an Australian judge and an art historian to the town.

Australia’s longest-serving judge Justice Michael Kirby will be lecturing on the role of law in grave human rights abuses and the new international system of accountability, on Friday, October 2 at 6.30pm at the University of Buckingham’s Radcliffe Centre. His lecture is entitled Magna Carta 1215, North Korea 2015: Lessons from the idea of control of government power.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Kirby is a renowned figure and recently chaired the United Nation’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kirby afterwards wrote a letter to Kim Jong-un about the widespread and systematic violation of human rights in North Korea.

Kirby has many accolades, including a number of honorary qualifications; the University of Buckingham awarded him with an honorary doctorate in 2000. He has been championed for his progressive views and has also been described by his biographer A.J. Brown as Australia’s “first, and only, true celebrity judge”.

Kirby’s special concerns included human rights, the impact of science and technology on society, and issues raised by HIV, such as sexuality and the law.

Free drinks and nibbles will be served. There will be a question and answer session to conclude the lecture.

The second lecture, on Tuesday, October 27 will be held in the Chandos Road Building and starts at 6.30pm.

Henry Spelman and the Legacy of Sacrilege is the title of Dr Nicola Smith’s lecture.

The remains of English abbeys, deliberately ruined at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, are still prominent features of the English landscape. Some have hardly been touched since the 16th century.

This talk, the annual Friends’ lecture, considers why some of these may have survived in this state of suspended animation, particularly focusing on the influence of the antiquary Sir Henry Spelman (1562-1641) and his controversial book The History and Fate of Sacrilege. In this book, Spelman set out evidence that those who meddled with former monastic sites were likely to come to a sticky end.

Dr Smith taught modules on the University of Buckingham’s Art History and Heritage Management BA Course, and also lectured on baroque decorative painting. She is currently enjoying a gap year.

After studying Art History at the University of Manchester, Dr Smith worked for English Heritage as a Historic Buildings Inspector. Dr Smith has published books and articles on English architecture and sculpture, and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Both lectures will be followed by question and answer sessions, and drink and nibbles will be served.