Juan E. Méndez is Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence at the American University-Washington College of Law and was the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment from November 2010 to October 31, 2016. In July 2020 he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture, for a three’year term. In January 2022 he was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to a three-year term as a member of the International Independent Expert Mechanism on Racial Justice and Law Enforcement.
In 2020 and 2021 he served as one of five members of the International Independent Group of Experts (GIEI for its acronym in Spanish) that investigated and reported on violations of human rights and acts of violence in Bolivia in the context of the elections and change of government in late 2019. Between April and December 2017 he was a member of the Selection Committee (Comité de Escogencia) that appointed magistrates to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission contemplated in the Peace Accords between Colombia and the FARC guerrillas.
He is the author – with Marjorie Wentworth – of Taking a Stand (New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, October 2011) and of the Spanish and updated version (Un Puesto de Lucha) published by Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico in 2021. He was elected a Commissioner, International Commission of Jurists (Geneva, Switzerland) in January 2017 and has been an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court. In 2010 and 2011 he was also Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association.
Until May 2009 he was the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York (summer 2009). Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, he was Kofi Annan’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide (2004 to 2007). Between 2000 and 2003 he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States and served as its President in 2002.
He has taught international law and human rights at Oxford University (UK) since 1997 and to the present, as well as at Notre Dame Law School (USA), Georgetown and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He worked for Human Rights Watch in Washington and New York (1982-1996) and as Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute on Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica (1996 – 1999).