Book of Condolence: Professor Robert Cryer
Colleagues and students at Birmingham Law School have all been deeply shocked and saddened at the terrible news of Professor Robert Cryer’s untimely passing.
He was a dearly loved and much admired friend, colleague, supervisor, mentor and teacher as well as a towering presence in the international criminal law and international law fields. He also served our community for several years as Head, and Deputy Head of School. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and many friends, knowing that his loss will be felt deeply and keenly by so many around the world.
Professor Cryer held the Chair in International and Criminal Law at Birmingham Law School from 2007, having previously held positions in the law schools at the universities of Manchester and Nottingham. He wrote widely covering many different facets of international law, however he is best known for his work in the field of international criminal law, where his research has been a touchstone for academics, policy makers, and practitioners for many years. Professor Cryer’s formidable scholarship grew in dialogue with the developing International Criminal Court (ICC) and other tribunals, meaning his knowledge and insight were important far beyond the academic world. He lectured and spoke widely, nationally and internationally, advised NGOs, national military authorities, governments and international bodies. His generosity in supporting others in their scholarship is renowned, even if he did this without any expectation of recognition. His textbooks have played an important role in the development of legions of students’ understanding of international criminal law and allied areas. His influence has been immense.
For many of us who worked, researched, and/or studied with him our thoughts will be of good times spent with Rob, whose warmth, inquiring mind, concern for our scholarship and our wellbeing mean we have many wonderful memories of him. We have opened a book of condolences as one means to allow us to share these and to record our gratitude. We shall pass on your memories and condolences to Professor Cryer’s family, in accordance with their wishes. Other more formal opportunities to reflect upon and commemorate his scholarship will be circulated in the fullness of time.
Professor Lisa Webley
Head of Birmingham Law School, on behalf of the BLS community.
Book of condolence
Tributes to Professor Cryer for this page can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make sure to include your name and any institutional affiliation that you wish included in the attribution.
As with many others, the news of Rob’s passing came as a shock and one that I had hoped was not true. Rob was still very positive in conversations and wanted to help talk through your problems rather than focus on him. A gentle, kind and generous kind of guy that addressed me as ‘The Sahota’. I will miss him calling me that, the banter and his laugh. I’ll miss you Robster. My condolences to all those that Rob touched, in particular my thoughts are with Sudeshna and Rob’s family.
Prab Sahota, Birmingham Law School
One of the great things about being an academic is the opportunity to meet so many wonderful and engaging people usually, but not always, within a collegiality arising from a shared discipline and interests. The downside of this is the tyranny of distance as friendship is too often remote as friends are based in different institutions and not infrequently in different countries. As a consequence, meetings can be rare and never as often as one would wish.
For decades I have counted myself as friend of Rob. It was a long standing but long distance friendship. I first met Rob when he was teaching at Nottingham and I was then based at the University of Glasgow. We hit it off at once. Like a recipe for instant noodles where you all have to do is go to the kitchen and just add water, all we had to do was go to the pub and just add alcohol. I don’t think that either of us took ourselves that seriously, but we had a respect and regard for each other and each other’s work, even if most of the time, so little time, that we were together was spent giggling and guffawing, although there were a few interludes when we spoke seriously about law, and Rob spoke seriously about the latest guitar that he had added to his ever-expanding collection. When we did manage to meet, usually at conferences or workshops, we stuck together like glue, generally holding up a bar together somewhere at the end of the evening, talking, laughing, and talking.
While Rob and I had different academic specialisations within the broad field of international law, it was obvious to all that he was a gifted academic who had a burning passion for international criminal law, tempered by an acute understanding of its practical and conceptual limitations. He also had a thoroughly informed knowledge of the eccentricities, feuds, and scandalous behaviour of older generations of esteemed international lawyers which provided light relief to leaven more serious discussions.
A few months before Rob died, we had our last phone call. We were both in (more or less) isolation, shielding ourselves from COVID for different medical reasons although his were more acute than mine. He was in good spirits, not as grumpy as I, and we laughed and jollied ourselves through a long conversation. This last memory of Rob is golden and I shall miss him: his bearhug whenever we met, his radiant grin, and his characteristic opening gambit of ‘How are you doing mate?’
Iain Scobbie, University of Manchester
This is strange because I can still hear Rob's voice and I think, somehow, it will always be there, in my head, as counsel.
I first met Rob via Skype in 2013. I was applying for a Postgraduate Teaching Assistantship and I wanted him to be my PhD supervisor. I think I interviewed poorly but somehow I got in and so I was lucky to see him, periodically, over the next four years, talking about the jus post bellum, amnesties, and the International Criminal Court
As a supervisor, Rob demanded clarity of expression and accuracy. But he also had a way of humanizing and making accessible that which was complicated. He was enthusiastic about many things, music, dogs, otters, Welsh rugby. He had a natural lust for life, and a commitment to justice which was infectious: "without fear or favour", he would say. Actually, I remember so many words and phrases: "International law is limited but I'm OK with that" - "You pays your money you takes your choice" - "States get the law they want and not that which they deserve" - "Well...the thing is about X, they're a mate"...and countless others. At my lowest ebb, during my doctorate, he smiled and said: "Look, after it's all over, you can change your name" with those twinkly eyes. I had no idea what he meant but it makes sense now and it makes me laugh.
Eventually, we became colleagues and friends. Among other things, I will remember long conversations about international criminal law in the Bratby and in other pubs about town. I would mostly listen.
Sometimes, he would call on the phone to share some good news. He would share his work. He would read mine. I'll miss him very much. I take solace in the fact that so many people around the world remember him as I do: a kind and brilliant man. Descance en paz, maestro.
Javier Eskauriatza, Birmingham Law School
I knew Rob from our school days - a different year group but similar age - and when I realised 20 years later that we were both working at UoB (him as a lofty Professor and me as a freelance visiting lecturer in the Business School), we hooked up again. I always found it so surreal that here was this 'boy' from my little sister's school year as a Professor in the same Law School where I did my Law degree. We caught up on all the intervening years, talked about people we knew from school and shared experiences of working at UoB. Sometimes this was on campus and sometimes in the The Junction in Harborne (his favourite of the two!!). He was a fascinating story-teller and that's probably what helped make him such an amazing scholar and teacher, and he would always be laughing and making others laugh. Our catch-ups moved to the telephone in 2020 as Rob was shielding, but they were still full of laughter even though Rob didn't have much to laugh about. I last spoke to him on 11th December and despite a medical setback he was so full of life, hope and humour. What an amazing guy. His intellect, zest for life and humour will be much missed. And I will miss the friendly face of the 'boy' from school on campus when I'm working there in future.
Emma Croom, University of Birmingham and St. Cyres School, Penarth
How unfitting that Rob is stolen from us so swiftly when it is precisely his humaneness, depth of intellect and joi de vivre that that is needed in these times. We alternated teaching the international criminal law seminar on the Oxford Master’s of International Human Rights Law. Beyond second marking exams we delved into gossip about the judges on the Tokyo and Nuremberg Tribunals. Rob always possessed the better insight and funnier story. I’ll miss you buddy.
Patricia Viseur Sellers, University of Oxford.
I remember Rob as a very thoughtful and kind man who always had time for everyone. I will forever remember our conversations in the corridors ranging from how I was doing to my reminders to him about how desperate I was for his view on a specific PhD application. My sincere condolences to his family; we will all miss you.
Dr. Walters Nsoh, University of Birmingham
I'm deeply saddened by Robert's passing. I met Robert when I was a graduate teaching assistant at Birmingham Law School. He was kind, genuine, warm, and always protective of teaching assistants.
Carlo Petrucci - School of Law, University of Essex
I had the honour and pleasure of working with Rob until 2014 in BLS. Rob was a wonderful person and a great friend. He was clever, funny, kind, considerate and entertaining. He never addressed me as Sharon, it was always Mrs Jones, with a cheeky smile. My sincere condolences to Rob’s family, Sudeshna and his friends. I will miss you Rob, rest in peace.
Sharon Jones, University of Birmingham
I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Rob for many years in the Birmingham Law School. Rob was a wonderful colleague, a true scholar and academic who contributed a great deal to his discipline and cared deeply about his students. He was a very good-hearted, kind and generous man with a great sense of humour. My sincere condolences to Rob's family and loved ones.
Djakhongir Saidov, King's College London
I met Rob when he joined Manchester University and we enjoyed many an evening drinking beer, listening to music, talking rubbish and laughing. Rob was generous, kind and an all round top bloke. I can hear him laugh now and see him coming into my office eating sweets and chuckling. I'll never forget him sparing the time to come and see me when I was in hospital for a number of months. It's at points like that when you learn who your friends are, so I knew that Rob would always be in my life. We saw each other every so often once he left Manchester, but whenever we did it felt like we'd still been seeing each other every day. I spoke to him in November and we had a good chat and a laugh about just how bloody awful life could be. We matched each other with our dark humour on that. He kept saying 'but I can't complain'. Well, he should have complained and I'm complaining - he's gone far too soon. I'm thinking of his partner and family. Please know that Rob was truly loved, admired and respected by so many. I will miss him.
Professor Sara Fovargue, Lancaster University
Incredibly sorry to hear of Rob's passing at such a young age. He was always wonderful to work with, an outstanding academic and a gentleman always. My sympathy to his partner, family and colleagues.
Brendan M. Casey, Oxford Brookes University
Your great contribution to international criminal law will last forever, your humour and eloquence will be sadly missed. May your soul rest in peace.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Kai Ambos, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Although I have not seen Rob for a few years, this piece of news has profoundly saddened me. We met at Manchester and used to spend our lunchtime together. He was a friendly, helpful and extremely intelligent person. When I wanted to tease him, I told him during lunch: ‘ But international law is not REALLY law, is it?’ No matter how often I asked this question, it never failed the mark. Rob became all red in the face and threw himself in a very passionate defence of the subject. What a wonderful person he was.
Francesco Giglio, University of Surrey
A kind-hearted rock star is about the best way I can describe Rob. I was very lucky to spend time with Rob a few years back. I got to tag along to conferences where he was met like a celebrity by some and a long lost brother by others. Rocking up in jeans and baggy jumpers to rooms full of serious suited lawyers and academics with a paper he had just written from start to finish on the plane journey over. The first time this happened I was bemused, the second time I began to appreciate that he must be pretty talented and the rock star dress code was well deserved.
I would say that he had pure natural talent, but that takes away from his work ethic. Rob read voraciously and could be largely nocturnal when in work mode. He was incapable of saying no to any favour from viva requests to journal reviews. It wasn’t by choice he was last minute with his own deadlines, he was always over committed. But you don’t get to be a Chair at 32 without putting in some graft!
Rob had no ego when it came to hierarchy. He was incredibly welcoming and generous with his time and care across professional services colleagues, PhD students and academic colleagues alike. He credited that to his summer holiday jobs at university doing admin in a busy solicitor’s office working from the bottom up (he prided himself on still actually being able to use and unblock a photocopier) but fundamentally he was just a really decent person.
Rob had so many interests beyond work and was passionate about everything he did. Things did not always come easily to him; he loved playing the guitar but the strings damaged his fingers, he loved animals but was largely allergic to them, he loved beer but hated empty glasses (that perhaps makes some sense though…) but these setbacks didn’t deter him. Where the rock star really came out was on the karaoke mic!
He had the biggest heart and welcomed everyone into it readily. We parted ways some time ago but now knowing that town crier Cryer voice is silent is devastatingly sad. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to know and love him.
I hope Rob is playing guitars, snuggling dogs and drinking beer to his heart’s content now.
My very deepest sympathy to his partner, family and friends. Rob will always be a legend.
Hayley Yarnell, University of Birmingham
Rob was a very kind, supportive, and gregarious person, with an absolutely brilliant laugh. He helped so many others, including myself. He was always willing to lend an ear, a book, and able to cheer you up when you needed perspective. He was also a brilliant scholar, able to talk and think deeply about a range of issues, not just his field of scholarship -- I was fortunate enough to have benefitted from this. My sincere condolences to Rob’s loved ones, family, and friends; we will all miss you.
Clark Hobson, University of Leicester
Like others, I had the distinct privilege of being addressed as Dr Wade (whilst being referred to as Mari). For me Rob went from being an esteemed authority I cited for aspects of my work, to the amusing future colleague who (as Head of School) welcomed me to BLS with a phone call in which crumpets featured heavily. He then became the dear friend seated next to me on my sofa as I (unknowingly) went into labour for the first time. And the latter despite Rob having told me only two weeks before I “needed my own theme tune” on account of how big I was. He was impossible! Irreverently funny (beyond measure) but so endlessly kind and empathetic (always prefaced with an apologetic “because it’s all about me” as if sharing of himself was not a favour to you, though it truly was. He just didn’t realise how generous he actually was) and so very deeply, perceptively clever. He pushed boundaries everywhere; those of intellect, of cheek ... the number of pints one could possibly drink and still remain insightful and eloquent.
When his heart encompassed anything - be it a book, a guitar or person - he loved with a ferocity seeking its equal. Our last meeting is now, painfully, illustrative. Rob was not in a good way; under circumstances in which he would normally not have let anyone see him. But all that meant nothing. Because not to meet me would have meant my girls would not have found their presents from Uncle Robelina under the Christmas tree in the morning. And that he would not countenance. So, for them, the normal boundaries evaporated. I cannot fathom that my girls do not have decades of that love still ahead of them. Every setting: the world of scholarship, BLS, my family, was richer for his presence. Our loss is immeasurable.
Marianne Wade, University of Birmingham
Rob always had a story to share, a memory to recall, and a joke to tell: the purpose was, without exception, to make you laugh. In each one of our interactions, there was nothing but good spirit and optimism, and a firm resolve that all problems will be handled and all obstacles overcome. For that reason, it is difficult to accept that he is no longer with us: I will always picture him in his office, surrounded by his books, his guitar and infinite candy.
Milena Tripkovic, Edinburgh Law School
I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Rob Cryer's passing. I had met him only a few times, as an early scholar eager to understand the field of international criminal law, and his generosity and warmth to everyone equally struck me immediately. His brilliant work has deeply shaped and informed my own approach to ICL. My condolences to his loved ones and friends for this loss.
Joanna Kyriakakis, Monash University
I was greatly saddened to hear this news. I wasn’t close to Rob, but he was everything we should all want to be. A brilliant scholar but also (and more importantly) kind, generous, modest and so much fun to be around. He was never too busy to offer help or a kind word to the generation coming up behind him through the ranks. Gone much too soon. A tragic loss to scholarship, his friends and family.
Douglas Guilfoyle, UNSW Canberra
Among all our colleagues on the Oxford International Human Rights program, Rob became a particularly good and intimate friend (and drinking partner). In fact, it’s amazing that he was able to think and write so much even while being such a superior, dedicated, and good-humored pub companion. Friendship with Rob was of the sort that misses nary a step no matter how much time passes between personal encounters. I find it incredibly hard to believe that he has passed and that we won’t have those regular fun times again.
Rob was such an impressive yet humble scholar and teacher; his incredibly fecund mind allowed him to achieve true greatness at an amazingly young age. But Rob also had so many diverse interests and passions outside of international criminal law (where he not only made but maintained a brilliant mark).
A complex, vulnerable, and empathic man with depths far beyond what many perceived, Rob contributed so much to so many. His significant and enduring intellectual legacy continues even as we deeply mourn the tragic early loss of a beloved friend.
I join in sending heartfelt condolences to Rob’s family and all others who loved and admired him.
Chip Pitts, Oxford International Human Rights Program
So sad to hear of Rob's passing. He was very much a member of 'our gang' when we frequented the pubs and curry houses of Beeston. I'd lost touch with him over the past several years, but will always remember him for his kindness, great sense of humour and (dare I say it) drinking capacity!
I know he'll be missed by so many. Cheers Rob.
Chris Fishwick. University of Nottingham.
Truly an amazing scholar and an incredible human being. I’ll hold dear, fond memories of your wonderful sense of humour, infectious booming laugh and your kind and thoughtful ways. What a privilege to have worked alongside you as a member of support staff over the past 14 years and to have had you as my friend. You fought a very brave battle to overcome your illness Rob, my deepest condolences to your family and partner, you will be sorely missed. May you rest in eternal peace.
Jane Johnson, Birmingham Law School.
Rob was a thoroughly kind and caring man. He leaves a hole in the community at Birmingham Law School. Thinking about all of Rob’s family and friends at this sad time. We’ll miss you, Rob.
Emily Carroll, Birmingham Law School.
I will always remember Rob’s big smile and his constant cheerfulness and warmth. Rob was a kind and supportive colleague who always had time for everyone in the school. We will deeply miss him. My condolences to Rob’s partner and his family.
Aleksandra Cavoski, Birmingham Law School.
Robert Cryer was an esteemed author on the international law list at Cambridge University Press. All of us who worked with Bob and his co-authors across four editions of An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure recall his professionalism and warmth, and its success in the market owes much to Bob’s teaching skills. We will strive to make sure that his is a lasting legacy.
The Cambridge University Press Team.
You were a brilliant mind, a gentle soul and a loud laugh. I would have loved to play guitar with you. I will wait till we meet again. For now, I will sorely miss you. Goodbye mate
Luca Rubini, Birmingham Law School.
The right words are nowhere in sight. But are there ever any? We will miss you Rob. We are so glad to have known you and lucky to have shared this road with you. Our work together with the Oxford Companion, the Routledge volumes and at our Journal, as well as our fond memories of the time we spent together, will always be a part of us.
On behalf of the Journal’s family, our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to all whom you held dear.
Salvatore, Urmila, and colleagues at the Journal of International Criminal Justice.
I met Robert Cryer on several occasions in conferences where he spoke on issues of ICL. I was always impressed by the depth of his knowledge of this, and related fields, and by his passion for the subject. He was a very engaged, lively, interesting speaker and a kind, friendly person. It is hard to believe that Robert Cryer has passed away, far too young. The outpouring of condolences testify to how much he was appreciated and loved by his students and colleagues. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace, and be cited abundantly.
Jean-Marie Henckaerts, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
I knew Rob for over 20 years, meeting towards the end of his PhD while I was on sabbatical at Nottingham. He went on to academic positions at Manchester and Nottingham, before gaining a Chair at an absurdly young age in Birmingham. A catch-up with Rob became a regular fixture of my reasonably regular trips to the UK. And Rob did do an inspired guest teaching gig in the Monash Masters programme, where we enjoyed the best gastro-pub lunch ever in North Melbourne.
Rob was a delight to spend time with – always interesting (on law, but also music and rugby), engaging, and above all caring. All the while mentoring many, and blasting out the books and articles – both quantity and quality. And despite being an academic superstar, he was always humble and approachable to all.
When I heard the news, oh boy. My friend is gone way too soon. To know Rob is now to miss him dearly –once he became a friend, he was always a friend. My thoughts to his family and loved ones.
Sarah Joseph, Griffith University, Brisbane.
“I first knew Rob at Manchester. We had many great nights out, and the only thing bigger than his (frequent) laugh was his heart. He was always great company, but also hugely kind and loyal. I saw him periodically as the years went by, and it was always wonderful to do so. For some reason, one particular (boozy!) train back to the midlands from Lancaster where we were both external examiners springs to mind. Rob will be remembered as a hugely talented scholar – and he most certainly was that – but for me and many others, we will miss him as a friend. My sincere condolences also to his family and loved ones.
José Miola, University of Leeds.
Rob was a Cardiff boy and studied his undergraduate degree in his home city. As he still came back to Cardiff regularly, once he had moved away, it was possible to meet him at various events at the University or WCIA. Over the years we had got to know each other well. Any time we saw each other or the opportunity arose, we always found time for a good chat. An outstanding international lawyer but more importantly a very fine person. On behalf of the School at Cardiff, our sincerest sympathies to all his friends and loved ones.
Urfan Khaliq, Head of School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University.
Rob Cryer was highly instrumental in my move to Birmingham, beginning with an episode in which he came to Cardiff Law School as an external assessor for a Chair appointment and ended up being offered the post - a long but highly amusing story of the sort which could only involve Rob. Having lived in the same road in Penarth as his parents and his enduring source of support, Tony and Jenny, I was able to keep Rob up to date with local news after they moved away, which always guaranteed great levels of entertainment. Hard to believe that we have lost not just such great company but also such great erudition.
Bob Lee, University of Birmingham.
I find it difficult to believe that I am writing this. I recollect endless conversations in pubs with Rob in Nottingham, dismantling the basics of international criminal law over seemingly endless pints of beer. I usually did the listening, because he had an encyclopedic knowledge of his chosen subject and was driven to make it a better thing. He was a good bloke and we shall miss him.
Neil Boister, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Rob Cryer was a brilliant legal scholar whose love of his subject was very evident. No less important, he was a wonderful man and colleague - kind, generous in spirit, jovial and great company. It is difficult to think of him now without seeing his smile. Rest in peace, Rob.
John Baldwin, Birmingham Law School.
We were shocked to hear Robert had died so suddenly and at so young an age. We were neighbours to the Cryer family when Robert and his brother were growing up, and we can appreciate what an achievement his academic career has been. We send our sincerest condolences to his parents Jenny and Tony and to his brother John on this truly sad occasion.
Tom and Elizabeth Dawkes. Dinas Powys nr Cardiff
Rob and I have been friends for almost twenty years. We first met when I came to Nottingham under an Erasmus Teaching Mobility program and he took care of me. After one month we changed roles. Rob taught a course on international criminal law in Göttingen and I introduced him to the German way of life. Rob spoke a little German, loved Christmas markets, German food and above all the beer. We loved joking about our national stereotypes and – as he once wrote in our guest book – he ‘believed me that goulash was a German dish’. We enjoyed our English-German football rivalry always texting each other during a match. Rob knew my whole family and was always interested in what the kids were doing. Over the years we also pursued many common academic projects. He was an outstanding scholar with a vast knowledge offering innovative approaches to our understanding of international law. But above all he was a wonderful friend and one of the kindest, funniest and most caring persons I have ever met. My deepest condolences to his partner and his family.
Heike Krieger, Freie Universität Berlin.
Rob was an outstanding international lawyer but more importantly the most supportive, kind and encouraging of friends. He took me under his wing as I started out in academia and nothing was ever too much trouble. We spent countless hours discussing books and music, Wales and universities, anything and everything. My thoughts are with his loved ones. He will be sorely missed.
Sandesh Sivakumaran, University of Cambridge.
I can still see Rob back in the early 1990s beetling along Beeston Broadgate towards UoN West Entrance, me having to shout over the road – or sometimes tap him on the shoulder – to get his attention because he had his headphones in, listening to Joy Division or Husker Du, and largely oblivious to the wider world. In those days, the subject of International Criminal Law – which Rob would later do so much to map out and consolidate – didn’t exist, and it became a bit of standing joke that he would have to spell out to casual inquirers exactly what his PhD was about. Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, so you’re doing a history PhD, Rob? Sure, there were trials of sorts, but what’s that got to do with (modern) law or legal scholarship? If you instantly recognise how foolish these questions are, you’ve probably partly got Rob to thank for your insight.
You don’t need to be Freud to figure out why Rob and me would immediately hit it off and become firm friends: beer, curry, guitars, football, trivial knowledge to the nth degree of pedantry, the finer points of doctrinal analysis beloved of only the true aficionado, writing too much too quickly for the sheer bloody enjoyment of it – he ticked all the essential boxes. We had innumerable afterwork conversations, covering topics great and small, and predictably rounded off at the Beeston Tandoori or the Cottage Balti on Chilwell Road. Debating the proper conceptual foundations of universal jurisdiction or the best Smiths album are not matters to be rushed, and are invariably better informed by liquid refreshment, as Rob profoundly appreciated. Having briefly been Rob’s PhD “personal tutor” (covering a more senior colleague’s sabbatical, if I recall correctly) inflated my vicarious pride and delight when Rob’s accelerated career progression culminated in appointment to his chair; an inspired piece of pre-emption on Birmingham’s part, since Rob was already on the cusp of an internal promotion to professor at Nottingham. It was what he always aspired to, and fully deserved.
Rob’s move from the East to the West Midlands inevitably meant that the occasions for catching up became fewer and further between, but with real friends you just pick up the conversation again wherever you left it last, whenever circumstances allow (and we did). It is difficult to believe that that almost three decades-long conversation has come abruptly, finally to an end. Rob’s life has been far too short, but he lived it at pace and produced a body of work that might have taken lesser talents many lifetimes and will outlast us all. When I emailed to inform you, Rob, that your former Beeston housemate Laurence Bebbington (Law Librarian first at Birmingham, and then Nottingham) had died, also suddenly and tragically young, you were devastated and wrote back simply, “I have no words”. I have these words for you, my friend, but they are too few, and cannot say enough.
Paul Roberts, University of Nottingham.
Rob, your light hearted approach to mentoring Academic staff helped me settle in very quickly in a new work environment. I thoroughly enjoyed our co- teaching sessions on transnational criminal law module. I also remember with fondness how you would make us hoot with laughter at staff social events . Thank you for caring for us. We shall forever miss you.
Maureen Mapp, Birmingham Law School.
I first met Rob when I went to the University of Manchester in 2000. He welcomed my partner and I warmly, and Jo will never forget how much he helped her in the early part of her career. He left a year later, assuring me it wasn’t personal. Eight years after that, the phone rang. In his unmistakable voice, Rob said ‘hello mate’ and asked if I’d apply to Birmingham where - having been the youngest lecturer in Manchester Law School - he was now Acting HoD. So he became my boss until he very gladly handed over the reins to me. He didn’t seek power. Good scholarship , good company and human decency were what he sought, and he gave it back twice over. His generosity and integrity were second to none. Rob was a true friend.
Andrew Sanders, University of Warwick.
I will miss Rob dearly. He was a great and inspiring friend. My heart goes out to Sudeshna, with him till the earthly end, and Rob’s extended family. Rob remains with us, his spirit larger than life. Godspeed mate! Here are some more words posted for Rob.
Mark A. Drumbl. Director, Transnational Law Institute, Washington and Lee University, USA.
I am truly the better for knowing Rob. I will miss him tremendously; and I will be forever grateful for his friendship. With love and condolences to Rob’s partner, family and friends.
Theresa Lynch, Birmingham Law School.
Rob was a great friend. I’ll miss him terribly.
Adrian Hunt, Birmingham Law School.
Still being relatively new to the department, the first time I had a proper chat with Rob, we talked about music and our shared love for bands like The Replacements and Big Star. The following morning, a book calledOur Band Could Be Your Life, was sitting in my pigeonhole. ‘This isn’t such a bad place to work’, I thought. Unfortunately, this was also the last time I saw Rob in person—just before the first lockdown. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him better.
Alan Greene, Birmingham Law School
Rob was a truly brilliant scholar. He was also a warm, generous and kind man, who loved the adventure of life. My sincere sympathies with his partner, family and loved ones on their terrible loss.
Karen McAuliffe, University of Birmingham.
Writing this tribute to my very dear friend is one of the saddest and hardest things that I have had to do. As an academic, he needs no introduction. A true scholar, his incandescent writings light up the areas to which he was devoted. His work, a very great legacy, will continue to inform the legal world and inspire others for many years to come. A charismatic character, he would think of others before himself. A member of the professoriate from a tender age, he embodied Birmingham’s motto: Per Ardua Ad Alta. During his illness and facing an uphill battle, his zest for life never faltered. Having had weekly online meetings with him since the first lockdown, his bravery in the face of adversity was clear and awe-inspiring. When asked how he was he would often say “Them’s the breaks”, noting his resolute desire to keeping moving forward and to keep fighting. I will take forward the lessons that he taught me during my life and pass them on to others. Hwyl fawr fy ffrind, Gorffwys Mewn Heddwch (goodbye my friend, rest in peace).
Lloyd Brown, Birmingham Law School.
Rob and I had been good friends for over 20 years. I was delighted when he joined Birmingham Law School, where he immediately made a great impact. We spent many a happy hour musing about law and life. It goes without saying that he was an outstanding scholar. He was also kind, generous, loyal, humble and fun. I have so many happy memories of Rob to treasure. My deepest condolences to Rob’s family, partner and friends.
Jonathan Harris, Serle Court, London; formerly Birmingham Law School
My sincere condolences to Rob’s family and all those who were fortunate enough to know and love him. Over the years I had the great privilege of spending time with Rob. He was a remarkable person; kind, modest, irascible, charismatic, and one of the finest raconteurs I will ever know. I was also very proud to have had him as my external PhD examiner. The breath of his knowledge, his unquenchable curiosity, and his intellectual generosity will forever be an inspiration to me.
Joe Powderly, Leiden University.
Rob was a great lawyer and scholar, but much more importantly, a really decent, kind and fun person. We all have our own memories of good times spent with Rob; mine include wandering the streets of Oslo with him and then hosting him to the Naval War College, which he found fascinating. Fair winds and following seas shipmate.
Mike Schmitt, United States Naval War College.
Rob was a profound mentor, an inspiring colleague and a wonderful friend. I will always remember him as an incredibly caring, kind and supportive PhD supervisor at the Birmingham Law School, a superb scholar and inspiration in the field of international law, and a great and generous person. I kindly cherish our discussions on various topics, his guidance and advice were generous, expert and considerate, our encounters were enriching, impactful and fun. Words come short to express how much I learned from him as my supervisor and friend. It’s been a privilege to get to know and work with him. My deepest condolences. I miss him dearly.
Dr Stoyan Panov, UCF, University of Freiburg.
Rob was a kind, warm, and friendly man. Rob made me feel very welcome during my time at UoB. He will be sorely missed.
Laura Ford, University of Huddersfield.
Rob was a brilliant scholar. More importantly, he was a wonderful person. Kind, funny, loyal, supportive and generous, his footprint on the world is far greater than even his towering intellectual legacy. He championed his students, cheered his colleagues, and loved his friends. How lucky we were, those of us who fell into any of these categories. My condolences to his partner, family, and loved ones on this terrible and untimely loss. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.
Fiona de Londras, Birmingham Law School
Rob, you were never one to be lost for words but I think even you’d struggle to put into words how I, and so many others, are feeling. You were a wonderful friend, and there are so many things to remember you by – your bellowing laugh, your generosity, your Cats Joy Division T-Shirt. I also have fond memories of scouring your CD collection for inspiration. Your legacy will live on, not just in your exemplary scholarship, but also in the values you instilled in so many young academics like myself who you supported and encouraged. I’ll miss you immensely
Bharat Malkani, Cardiff University
Rob quickly became one of my closest friends and confidants at The University of Birmingham. His death is a terrible shock. Rob's kindness, dry wit, cheeky smile, lust for fun, and ability to befriend anyone will stay with me forever. My condolences to his friends and colleagues at Birmingham, as well as to his family. I know that many people will miss him as much as I do.
Ben Smart, University of Johannesburg (former Teaching Fellow, University of Birmingham).
Rob was terrific companion and friend during the time we worked together at Manchester University. He did more than his fair share in every department of the job, and since he always did this with a smile on his face, he was just about the perfect colleague. I'll miss him greatly.
John Murphy, Lancaster University.
Prayers and fond memories are what we have to remember our dearly departed. Rob will be truly missed and will always be remembered. He was a great colleague and friend. Please accept my heartfelt condolences, words cannot begin to express the sadness you are feeling right now.
Dr Sandra Ingelkofer, Birmingham Law School.
Rob was warm, kind, generous, passionate, and incredibly funny. His intellectual contribution to the field of international law is immeasurable, but his personal, human contribution to the community of his colleagues and friends is even greater. It is difficult to imagine that he is gone. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
Bosko Tripkovic, Birmingham Law School.
Rob and I have been friends for over twenty years since our early days as lecturers at the University of Nottingham and for the last 14 years as professors at the University of Birmingham. He would regularly address me as “Trybus” rather than “Martin”, which was not an expression of distance or reserve but quite the opposite. There are many books I read because he recommended them (or bought them for me), thoughts I thought because he inspired them, laughs I laughed because he triggered them. The last twenty years were better because he was there. His office is just across from mine. I have not been there since March, but I imagine it will always be hard to pass by that door that was so rarely fully closed. I am in mourning. My heart goes out to his family, his partner, and the multitude of his other friends. I will never forget him. May he rest in peace.
Martin Trybus, University of Birmingham.
A very sad loss in every way. A thoroughly decent and nice person and a great scholar.
Judge Sir Howard Morrison QC, President of the Appeals Division, International Criminal Court.
Rob was not only an outstanding scholar and but also wonderful colleague and friend. His helpfulness to students and colleagues seemed to have no bounds. He will be deeply missed. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Jacques Hartmann, Reader, University of Dundee.
I first came across Rob when I was Head of School. Rob had been identified by my deputy head, Jonathan Harris, as a rising star and, when a vacancy arose, we invited him to apply for it. We were all blown away by his performance at interview and were delighted when he agreed to join us. Rob was probably best known for his work on the Tokyo Military Tribunal and the International Criminal Court, but he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of international law in general. Rob was very generous in sharing that knowledge with others. He once dropped into my office (remember when that happened?) and I asked him a question about something I was working on. He gave me a brief answer and said he’d see if he had anything further in his office. The next day he returned to my office with a small pile of books in which he had diligently flagged up all the relevant passages. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like Rob. I miss him.
Anthony Arnull, Birmingham Law School
It was with great sadness that I heard that Rob has passed away. With him international criminal law scholarship loses one of its most profound protagonists, a pioneer of the second generation, a scholar in the truest sense of the word, always critical, curious, and creative. I knew Rob since we have both had the pleasure and privilege to be part of the ‘Nino Cassese family of international criminal' law which has always been so inspiring to all of us and, I know, which was also dear to him. I will remember Rob as a humble, charming, funny, life-loving, and, well, very British friend and colleague. Bye, Rob.
Florian Jeßberger, Humboldt University Berlin.
I knew of Rob and his work long before I joined Birmingham. We often talk of international recognition, but his work truly is recognised far beyond these parts. I never tired of opening books to find yet another contribution by Rob – always illuminating. I don’t know if he would want to be remembered mostly by his research, but in any case my memories of him as a person are of someone every bit as illuminating. He was always generous to me, provided very welcome distractions from less interesting parts of my day, often made me laugh and sometimes made me cringe (in the good way). I experienced him as someone who lived in finding something in common with those he met. He and I shared a Nottingham connection. It was him that found it – quickly, like a sniffer dog – in my first week at Birmingham. With that seed of shared experience he was off and could find 100 more places that our quite different lives and time-lines had cross overs (not least, dogs!). I’ll miss you, Rob.
Ben Warwick, Birmingham Law School.
Rob has been a supervisor to me, a colleague, and always a friend. He was a good man and I will miss him dearly.
John Child, University of Birmingham.
Rob was an inspirational and highly respected scholar. Although I didn’t know him very well, I felt privileged to have him as a colleague. A humble and generous man with an incredible talent, he leaves a deep hole within the world of international criminal law and in our hearts. My sincere condolences to Rob’s family.
Janine Natalya Clark, Birmingham Law School.
Although I didn’t know Rob very well personally, I knew him well enough to get a sense of just how kind, fun, generous, and thoughtful he was, and why he was so loved by those who did know him well. My first introduction to my field was through ‘Cryer et al’ and at all stages of my academic career that name has been (and I’m sure will continue to be) the go to for all things international criminal law. Although we never worked together as colleagues, he was always a familiar presence around UoN Law: and every dinner or conference (-drinks) Rob was going be at was always guaranteed to be a good evening. Rob reached out to me on a number of occasions, before we had met even, to offer encouragement, support and opportunities. Through this, I got a small insight into the kind of generous colleague and mentor he was and why he was so widely loved and respected, not only for his scholarship but also, and perhaps more importantly, as a person. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Hemi Mistry, University of Nottingham.
I was a Postgrad student in the Birmingham Law School from 2014 to 2016. As a very mature student (in my 60's) it was an interesting experience, quite different from that of my fellow students. Rob used my age and experience to advantage in a way which was humorous but always good natured - any case or situation more than a few years old would elicit from him a comment along the lines of "Deidre will remember this"
When my father died halfway through my course Rob was very supportive, helped me organise extensions for coursework, and checked on my wellbeing. He really enhanced my experience as a PG student and I was very sorry to hear of his untimely death
Deidre Mattison, MA International Law, Politics, and Philosophy 2016.
Rob was a brilliant scholar and a wonderful friend. He will be deeply missed by many people around the world. He has been taken much too soon. His loss is both hard to take and difficult to comprehend. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Dominic McGoldrick, University of Nottingham.
Rob was an unfailingly cheerful presence at Nottingham when I arrived and I was fortunate to have him as a colleague for a few years before he took a Chair at the University of Birmingham. We watched many games of rugby together, following the fortunes of Wales in a period when it enjoyed some success. He was a brilliant colleague and a fine friend. He will be sadly missed.
Craig Rotherham, University of Nottingham.
Rob was a good friend and a wonderful scholar. He was a giving academic, giving of his time, giving of his expertise, and giving kindness to colleagues and students alike. Very sad to learn of his passing. His work will live on.
Jeff Kenner, University of Nottingham.
My thoughts are with everyone who had the pleasure and joy to know Rob and who mourn his loss. I still have all the post-it notes that Rob used to leave for me when we worked together. They encouraged me to carry on. They reminded me that I was a scholar. And they came from someone who inspired and who cared. We drank together. We ate together. We even watched football together surrounded by a collection of guitars. I have so many memories of talking to him late into the night about random international law facts and then finding out that he had spent the rest of the night writing an article. He was an academic machine with a huge heart! Rob will never be forgotten. He has touched each of our lives in unique and very special ways. May he now rest in peace.
Sangeeta Shah, University of Nottingham.
“I had the pleasure and privilege of having Robert as a colleague when I was in Nottingham. He was cheerful and lovely, supportive and caring and a great scholar. He was truly a great colleague to have and his passing away at such a young age is a tragedy. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends in these incredibly sad times.”
Estelle Derclaye, Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Nottingham.
It was really sad to hear of Rob's passing. I remember him as a warm and enthusiastic PhD supervisor and senior colleague at Nottingham who was passionate about every subject he engaged in a conversation on from international law to which local pub we should go and drink in. It is terrible that such a kind, warm, sincere person should be gone so soon.
Dr Nell Munro, University of Nottingham.
"I express my deepest condolences on Rob's passing. Rob was a thoroughly kind, caring and considerate man. As a former PhD student, I learned a great deal from him about life as a scholar and mentor. He was and will remain an intellectual titan in the fields of international and criminal law. His work and values for an international community will continue to inspire generations to come.”
Luke Butler, University of Nottingham.
Heartfelt condolences to Rob’s family and his law school family. He was a superb scholar of international criminal law, and a thoroughly nice guy to be around with. I will miss him.
Marko Milanovic, University of Nottingham.
“It’s so hard to accept that Rob is not with us anymore. After leaving Nottingham for Birmingham he returned regularly, and it was always apparent when he did: the booming voice in the corridor, then the demonstrative knock on the door, followed by a warm and hearty “You all right matey?” We would then chat about all sorts. It typically started with universities, law and mutual friends, and then moved on to music. I never persuaded him that Rush were better than Black Flag, nor that Bruce Springsteen outclassed Bob Mould; but it was fun trying. Rob had so many friends and no doubt we will all miss him differently. But one thing is certain: we will all really miss him.”
Peter Cartwright, University of Nottingham.
It was with great sadness that I heard that Rob has passed away. As a former colleague at the University of Nottingham, School of Law I have very fond memories of Rob as co-director of the Malaysian training programme to which he was a significant contributor, and who was very popular with the students on the International LLM. He was a man who gave a great deal to his professional life and to his colleagues and it is so very sad that he has gone when he still had so much to give. I shall always remember him with great affection as a talented academic, a valued colleague and a stalwart of the football team. We have all lost a friend.
Pauline Armstrong, University of Nottingham.
Rob was a great friend and colleague. Deepest condolences from Gill and Nigel White.
“Rob was a wonderful colleague, a brilliant, widely-read and insightful international lawyer, a caring teacher and supervisor, and always a fun person to be with. He will be greatly missed.”
Robert McCorquodale, University of Nottingham.
“Rob took me under his wing when I first started at the University of Nottingham in 2002. His room was right next to mine and his loud voice would go through the thick wall of books separating our offices (he was so proud of his book collection –second only to his guitar collection). His laughter is still ringing in my ears. When a student we supervised together gave me expensive chocolate and him a pot noodle as a ‘thank you’, Rob thought the choice of presents was entirely appropriate! Being in the same field, Rob and I became co-editors, co-authors but also fellow intrepid travellers. We’ve had our fair share of adventures in South Africa, Malaysia and Fiji, involving aggressive penguins, perilous jungle treks and even a coup! When Rob moved to Birmingham, he kept in touch, returning often for great international law discussions usually over a pint or two and making it hard for the rest of us to keep up with either. He enjoyed swearing at me in my native tongue, simply to see me blush – a memory that I have come to cherish. An amazing scholar that had a lot more to give, a dear friend, and a wonderful human being, taken far too soon but who will not be forgotten. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him and the world is truly a lesser place without him. Miss you Cryer!”
Professor Olympia Bekou, University of Nottingham.
‘Condolences for the untimely passing of Rob. He leaves behind a huge memory of a kind and brilliant man.’
Nara Ghazaryan, University of Nottingham
My colleagues will, I suspect, quite understandably be remembering Rob's academic achievements, which were indeed impressive. I will miss him much more as a person - funny, anarchic, brash (at least partly a front, I suspect!), occasionally irascible, always deeply caring.
Peter Bartlett, University of Nottingham