Former Chief Operating Officer for the International Commission on Missing Persons, Adam Boys among alumni honoured by the Queen in the 2015 New Year Honours.
It was 1994 when psychology graduate Adam Boys turned his back on a safe and secure accountancy job in London. Moved by images of people affected by the conflict in Bosnia, Adam volunteered as an aid worker, driving lorries for UK charity Feed the Children, and, in doing so, began a 20 year relationship with the Balkans.
A setback in the form of a serious crash necessitated a return to Scotland in 1995, but the experience and the region had left its mark. After spells working as a border monitor for an international mission in Montenegro and Serbia, and for former Swedish Prime Minister and peace envoy Carl Bildt, Adam was invited to join the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
Born out of the 1996 G-7 Summit, ICMP’s initial mandate was to assist the post conflict states of the former Yugoslavia to account for the approximately 40,000 persons reported missing as a result of the fighting from 1991 to 1995.
Identifying the missing
ICMP are the world’s only international organisation solely devoted to the issue of missing persons and have expanded their remit beyond the Western Balkans to Iraq, Libya, Chile and Thailand, following the 2004 tsunami. They have built the largest human DNA identification laboratory in the world and have identified almost 20,000 of those missing after the Bosnian conflict.
Adam is keen to stress that central to ICMP’s approach is that they treat missing persons as a humanitarian issue and not as the inevitable consequence of war.
This means that we work directly with governments to create democratic and accountable institutions with robust laws to serve citizens in a non-discriminatory manner.
After 20 years in the Balkans, Adam has recently left ICMP for a role with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance based in Stockholm, but he remains committed to the country, and to the work that saw him recognised with an OBE for services to conflict prevention and resolution.
I will remain committed to seeing a positive future for Bosnia and have been closely involved with efforts to have proper recognition of July 11th as a day to commemorate the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in 1995.
After all the challenges and experiences he has encountered in Bosnia, what value does he now place on his Edinburgh degree?
The strong traditions of public service and justice are mentioned, as are skills and knowledge acquired as part of his degree, but the lasting legacy is the people.
I believe that the most important elements were my fellow students and some inspirational professors and lecturers.
Full list of honoured alumni
Civil Division List
- Sir Thomas Philip Winsor (1979 LLB) HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary. For public service.
- Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- Dame Professor Carol Ann Duffy (2013 Hon DLetts) Poet Laureate. For services to Poetry.
- CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- Ms Sandra Dawe CBE (1977 MA German) Lately Chief Executive, VisitBritain. For services to the Tourism Industry.
- Ms Anne Helen Richards CVO, CBE (1985 BSc Electronics & Electrical Engineering) Chief Investment Officer, Aberdeen Asset Management plc. For services to the Financial Services Industry and voluntary service.
- Professor Fiona Mary Ross CBE (1973 BSc Social Science/Nursing) Professor of Primary Care Nursing, Kingston University and St George’s and Director of Research, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. For services to Nursing.
- Professor Bill (William) Whyte CBE (1976 MA Social Policy and Sociology) Professor of Social Work Studies in Criminal and Youth Justice. For services to Youth Justice in Scotland.
- OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire
- Mrs Susan Jean Stewart Brimelow OBE (1995 MSc Nursing and Health Studies) Chief Inspector, Healthcare Environment Inspectorate. For services to Patient Care and Safety.
- Dr Roshan Maini OBE (1972 BSc Chemical Engineering) For services to the Life Sciences Industry.
- Dr Ruth Louise Mallors-Ray OBE (1995 PhD Chemistry) Lately Director of Aerospace, Aviation and Defence, Knowledge Transfer Networks. For services to Science, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer.
- Professor Robert Hamilton Millar OBE (1973 PhD Medicine, 1974 Dip Education) Emeritus Professor, Centre for Innovation and Research in Science Education, University of York. For services to Science Education.
- Mr Bruce Minto OBE (1979 LLB Law) Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Museums Scotland. For services to Culture.
- Dr David Alasdair Hamley Rae OBE (1996 PhD Architecture) Lately Director of Horticulture and Learning, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. For services to Horticulture and Education.
- MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire
- Mr Derek Andrew Bearhop MBE (1983 MA Geography) Head, Games Delivery Team, Scottish Government. For services to Government and the Commonwealth Games.
- Dr Kate Miriam Granger MBE (2002 BSc Pharmacology, 2005 MBChB) Trainee Doctor in Elderly Care Medicine, Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber. For services to the NHS and Improving Care.
- Ms Carol Betsy Lees Dickson Main MBE (1979 BA Arts) Director, Live Music Now Scotland. For services to Music.
- BEM - Medallist of the Order of the British Empire
- Mrs Alison Margaret Purkins BEM (1969 MA Arts) Guide Leader. For services to guiding in Edinburgh.
Diplomatic Service and Overseas List
- OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire
- Mr Adam Michael Bacher Boys OBE (1989 MA Psychology) Lately Chief Operating Officer, International Commission on Missing Persons. For services to conflict prevention and resolution particularly in the Western Balkans.
- Professor Stephen Gilbert Hillier OBE (1992 DSc Medicine) Vice-Principal International, the University of Edinburgh. For services to international higher education.
- Mr Paul Joseph Gordon Rennie OBE (1999 MA Economics and Politics) Head of Political and Bilateral Affairs, British High Commission, New Delhi, India. For services to UK/India relations.