Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Virginia Leary

Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Virginia Leary

Article excerpt

I want to thank the ASIL for giving me an opportunity to remember one of the most outstanding members of this august society. Professor Virginia Leary passed from this world unexpectedly on April 8, 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland, where she made her home after stepping down from Buffalo Law School. We will always remember Virginia as a distinguished colleague, a dedicated servant of the ASIL, a mentor of junior faculty and countless young human rights activists from around the globe. But above all we shall always remember Virginia as a wonderful friend.

Today we celebrate a life of academic excellence and exemplary service to humankind. As one mark of her academic distinction and achievement, Virginia Leary was named a State University of New York Distinguished Service Professor, the highest honor that the SUNY system can bestow on a faculty member. But in conferring that honor, SUNY was merely affirming what the world already knew--that Professor Leary was a world-class academic and activist whose talents and compassion knew no bounds. She touched all those with whom she came across--whether king, queen, or peasant--with the humility that was so characteristic of her. She lived her life to affirm a basic truism of human rights doctrine-that we are all equal in our dignity as human beings. It is because of this unwavering faith in the dignity and the worth of the human person that Virginia traveled far and wide--all over the globe--fighting against human powerlessness in all its manifestations.

Virginia was so humble that you could not tell what a towering figure she was in the universe of international law and human rights. In fact, Virginia was one of the first, if not the first, woman to become a true star scholar in international law and human rights, and in that capacity paved the way for others. …

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