Students Staff

06 February 2014

Sochi boycott would be “counter-productive” says Essex lawyer

Dr Andrew Fagan, of the University of Essex, has described a proposed boycott of the Winter Olympics as “counter-productive” and “a relatively empty gesture.”

Dr Andrew Fagan

Dr Andrew Fagan

Speaking in a University podcast, Dr Fagan, from the School of Law and Human Rights Centre, said: “Russia is not Saudi Arabia. It’s not Iran where, for example homosexuality is punishable by the death sentence. It is a country which has huge strategic importance. Therefore, I think Russia needs to be engaged with rather than ostracised.”

Dr Fagan stressed that although Russia’s law criminalises the “propagandising” of homosexuality, and is in turn a violation of freedom of expression, it is more liberal than public attitudes towards homosexuality in the country.

Although public figures such as broadcast Stephen Fry have supported calls for a boycott, Dr Fagan said that such action “would be beneficial to a number of campaigning organisations – and I respect and understand their motivation for the proposal – but would be ultimately I think counter-productive to promoting human rights”.

He fears that a boycott would be “a relatively empty gesture, for which minorities and the human rights victims in Russia may well be paying the price.”

Dr Fagan took part in a discussion about the Sochi Games on Radio 4’s Moral Maze programme on 5 February.


More information

For more information, or a picture of Dr Fagan, please contact the University of Essex Communications office, telephone: 01206 873529 or email:

Dr Andrew Fagan has been teaching human rights at Essex since 1998. His research principally focuses on normative issues in the political philosophy of liberalism and he is actively researching in the emerging field of human rights and cultural diversity. Andrew has taught and lectured on human rights across the world and is actively engaged in supporting the on-going reform process in Myanmar. In 2013 he was the first academic to provide a course of summer school lectures in Kazakhstan.

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