The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has announced that Lady Helena Kennedy QC will become its first female co-chair.

The peer and former barrister will join existing co-chair Sternford Moyo, the former president of the Zimbabwe Law Society, to lead the IBAHRI Council.

Commenting on her appointment, Kennedy said: ‘I am delighted to join the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute as co-chair.’

She said: ‘It is a welcome opportunity to lend my voice and support to the important work it carries out in the field of human rights, particularly in relation to the rule of law and access to justice.

‘These are issues which I have worked closely on throughout my career and feel passionate about.’

As a barrister at London’s Doughty Street Chambers, Kennedy acted in a number of prominent cases over the last 30 years, including the Brighton bombing, the Michael Bettany espionage trial, the Guildford Four appeal and the bombing of the Israeli embassy.

Kennedy is chair of Justice, the British arm of the International Commission of Jurists; president of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African studies; and principal at Mansfield College, Oxford University.

She has played a significant role in promoting equal opportunities for women at the bar and has lectured on human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues, and has received more than 30 honorary doctorates.

IBA president Akira Kawamura said: ‘We are honoured to have Baroness Helena Kennedy QC join the governing body of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute.

‘A distinguished jurist and leading voice in human rights, social justice and equality issues, with an unfailing dedication to empowering those in society conventionally ignored – we wholeheartedly welcome her.’

The IBA, established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associates and law societies. Its human rights institute works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under the rule of law and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession.