International law specialist Dr Mitch Robinson honoured as Fellow

14 July 2016

Dr Mitch Robinson
Dr Mitch Robinson

Dr Mitch Robinson, an international law specialist for the US Department of Defense, has been honoured as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Mitch recently worked on a human rights case at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, where his work was instrumental in obtaining ground-breaking reports and precedents from the United Nations regarding due process rights and the rehabilitation of torture victims.

Mitch graduated with Master of Laws (LLM) from the Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University in 2005, and attributes his professional success to his time spent studying in Aberystwyth.

In 2015 he won the Professional Achievement Award at the US British Council’s Education UK Alumni Awards, which honour the outstanding achievements of business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders who can demonstrate how their UK education impacted on their success.

Dr Mitch Robinson was presented as Fellow on Wednesday 13 July by Professor Chris Harding from the Department of Law and Criminology.

Presentation of Dr Mitch Robinson

Canghellor, Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion. Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Mitch Robinson yn gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, prospective graduates, and supporters. It is an honour and privilege to present Mitch Robinson as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Thomas Mitchell Robinson – hereafter referred to as Mitch, as he is known to friends, colleagues and much of the wider public – is a native of the American South. He was born and grew up in Mississippi and went on to take his first degree in history in Alabama. Thereafter he started his odyssey as a roving and international American.

As a postgraduate he studied first of all international relations at Edinburgh University and then came here to Aberystwyth in 2002 to undertake postgraduate research and some teaching in the field of international law and human rights.

After graduating from Aberystwyth he boldly went to Beijing, to teach English language and Western culture to Chinese students.

Two years later he returned to Europe, to Geneva, to work on a doctorate at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, dealing with the prohibition of forced labour under international law. But for the final phase of that research, the writing up of the thesis, he chose to return here, to Borth no less, as the best place to complete this piece of work.

Thereafter he was in Oslo, taking up a visiting post at the Centre for Human Rights, before returning to the US to undertake his present role as a member of the defence team for some of the now remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

But during his decade or more of study and professional work around the world, his depth of curiosity and desire to engage with diverse geographical, political and cultural environments, led him also to explore other places – driving around Israel, climbing a volcano in the north-west of Iceland, reflecting on the corporate nameplates around the streets of Leichtenstein. More recently he has engaged in creative literary work and is now a published novelist.

His recent work in Washington and Guantanamo is part of a well-established professional trajectory, inspired by a deep concern for achieving justice and for political and moral engagement. He has said that his present role is one of the best ways in which he can serve the US Constitution. In this work he has been able to draw upon an extensive knowledge and assured understanding of both law and international relations. He has proven impressive in his flair for legal and political strategy and his ability to forge innovative and subtle argument, and communicate that argument fluently and convincingly.

More recently, his professional achievement was recognised in an award at the US British Council’s Education Alumni Awards in 2015.

Aberystwyth University is proud of Mitch’s work in the cause of justice, but proud also that he has acknowledged the part played by his time and experience here in fashioning and informing his intellectual and professional odyssey. If it comes up as a question in a pub quiz: what is the connection between Aberystwyth and Guantanamo Bay, there is a clear and simple answer. Mitch Robinson. But that is a good and positive connection, one to be celebrated. 

Canghellor, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Mitch Robinson i chi yn Gymrawd.

Chancellor, it is my absolute pleasure to present Mitch Robinson to you as a fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Aberystwyth University Honours 2016

Twelve individuals are being honoured by Aberystwyth University during the 2016 graduation ceremonies, which take place at the University’s Arts Centre from Tuesday 12 July until Friday 15 July.

Eight Honorary Fellowships will be presented to individuals who have, or have had a connection with Aberystwyth or Wales, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field.

One Honorary Doctorate degree will be presented.  These are presented to individuals who have been outstandingly successful in their field, or who have a long record of renowned research and publication.

Three Honorary Bachelor degrees will be presented.  These are presented to individuals who are members of Aberystwyth University staff without an entry-level degree in recognition of long-service, contribution and dedication to the Institution; and members of the local community who have made a significant contribution to Aberystwyth and the area.

Also being honoured are:

Honorary Fellowships:

Dr Catherine Bishop, triple Olympian, international conflict diplomat and experienced speaker and facilitator

Natasha Devon MBE, writer, campaigner, television pundit, and founder of the Self Esteem Team

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and a Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Cambridge

Charmian Gooch, anti-corruption campaigner and co-founder and director of Global Witness

Ruth Lambert MBE, former Chairman of the Machynlleth Tabernacle Trust, who organised the Machynlleth Festival and the exhibition programme of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) Machynlleth for almost thirty years

Sir Evan Paul Silk KCB, President of the Study of Parliament Group; formerly clerk in the British House of Commons, Clerk to the National Assembly for Wales and chair of the Commission on Devolution in Wales

A J S “Bill” Williams MBE (1920-2016), RAF pilot and Aberystwyth University lecturer named in 2014 as one of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175 Faces of Chemistry

Honorary Doctorate Degree:

Professor Ken Walters, Distinguished Research Professor in the University’s Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science, founding fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and a Fellow of the Royal Society

Honorary Bachelor Degrees:

Karina Shaw, Assistant Headteacher at Ysgol Penglais, Aberystwyth, Director of the Penparcau Community Forum, founder member and current Chairwoman of the Penparcau History and Heritage group, and charity volunteer

Aled Haydn Jones, Welsh radio editor, presenter and former radio producer with BBC Radio 1, and presenter with S4C

Stefan Osgood (1994-2016), who achieved and contributed a great deal while studying at Aberystwyth, including through his involvement in sports, and as an exceptional contributor to Raising and Giving at the University.



Chancellor Sir Emyr Jones Parry with Dr Mitch Robinson

Dr Mitch Robinson

Dr Mitch Robinson with Professor Chris Harding from the Department of Law and Criminology

Dr Mitch Robinson with Chancellor Sir Emyr Jones Parry and Vice-Chancellor Professor April McMahon

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Alice Earp
Communications and Public Affairs
Aberystwyth University
01970 622578 /