Baroness Helena Kennedy smiling to camera behind speech podium

Doctor of the University

A distinguished lawyer and renowned champion of human rights.

Baroness Helena Kennedy is one of Britain's most distinguished lawyers. She has spent her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights.

In 2018, she founded the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights in Oxford although she no longer runs it. Now she is the Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute which runs programmes to protect lawyers and judges at risk around the world.

A Labour peer in the House of Lords since 1997, she participates on issues concerned with human rights globally, civil liberties, social justice and culture. In 2021, she evacuated 103 women judges and lawyers who were on Taliban “kill lists” plus their families from Afghanistan.

Alongside her successful career in law, Helena’s interest in literature has resulted in her judging a number of book prizes. She has written and broadcasted on many issues over the years and has published several books, including two on how the justice system is failing women.

Helena is a patron of a number of charities, including Poet in the City, Safe Hands and the Patients Association. She has been awarded more than forty honorary doctorates for her contribution to society.