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Rodley was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire on 1 December 1941 to Hans Israel Rosenfeld and Rachel (née Kantorowitz). His parents later changed their name to Rodley. His father - who served in the British Army under the name John Peter Rodley - was killed in action in the Netherlands in September 1944. He was educated at Clifton College where he was a member of Polack's, the Jewish boarding house. He was of Jewish descent.
- a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, a body of 18 human rights experts that monitors UN member states' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(between 2001-2016), and
- a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists,
- a founding member and former Executive Committee Vice-Chairman of INTERIGHTS: International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights.
- a member of the Executive Committee of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies.
- a trustee of Freedom from Torture.
- a member of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, (IIGEP), a group of experts invited by the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa to observe the workings of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into serious Human Rights violations in Sri Lanka.
Rodley has degrees from:
- LLD - Dalhousie University, 2000 (honorary)
- PhD - University of Essex, 1992
- LLM - New York University, 1970
- LLM - Columbia University, 1965
- LLB - University of Leeds, 1963
Most recently, he was:
- Professor of Law and Chair of the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, having taught there since 1990.
He had formerly taught at:
- Dalhousie University,
- the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research (New York), and
- the London School of Economics.
He was formerly:
- UN Special Rapporteur on torture, serving in this capacity from 1993 to 2001,
- working at UN Headquarters in New York City,
- for Amnesty International, Legal Advisor and Head of the Legal and Intergovernmental Organisations Office (1973–1990),
Published works include:
- (with Matt Pollard) The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law (3rd edition, 2009);
- (with Matt Pollard) "Criminalisation of Torture: State Obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" 2006 European Human Rights Law Review 115 (2006);
- The UN Human Rights Machinery and International Criminal Law, in Lattimer and Sands (eds.), Justice for Crimes against Humanity (2003, Hart Publishing);
- "The Definition(s) of Torture in International Law" in Current Legal Problems. p467 (2002)
- The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law (1st edition 1987, 2nd edition 1999);
- Impunity of Human Rights (1998);
- (co-ed with Y Danieli and L Weisaeth) International Responses to Traumatic Stress (1995);
- (ed) To Loose the Bands of Wickedness - International Intervention in Defence of Human Rights (1992);
- (with J I Domniguez, B Wood and R A Falk) Enhancing Global Human Rights (1979);
- (co-ed with C N Ronning) International Law in the Western Hemisphere (1974);
In 2010, Routledge published The Delivery of Human Rights: Essays in Honour of Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, edited by his colleagues Geoff Gilbert, Francoise Hampson, and Clara Sandoval.
- United Nations Treaty and Charter-based Human Rights Bodies: Competitive or Complementary? in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
- Recipient of the American Society of International Law's 2005 Goler T. Butcher Medal  for distinguished work in human rights.
- A KBE in recognition of his services to human rights and international law (1998).
- "Signatories". Independent Jewish Voices. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- Robertson, Geoffrey; Crewe, Ivor (2 February 2017). "Sir Nigel Rodley obituary". Retrieved 6 February 2017 – via The Guardian.
- Interights website.
- Part of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, commemorating Lord David Davies of Llandinam, Montgomeryshire.
- Webpage of the Human Rights Centre on the University of Essex.
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