Robert Spano

Research Visitor - Hilary Term 2023 - Michaelmas Term 2023


Professor Robert Spano is the former President of the European Court of Human Rights and Judge of the Court elected in respect of Iceland (2013-2022). He is a Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Iceland and is Of Counsel in the leading international law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (London).

He began his legal career as a Deputy Judge at national level. He then became a legal adviser and Special Assistant to the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland, subsequently a tenured Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Iceland. He also practiced as Of Counsel in an Icelandic law firm in public law and corporate law. He was provisionally appointed Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland before being elected a Judge to the European Court of Human Rights in 2013. Whilst at the Strasbourg Court, he was elected Section President, then Vice-President before being elected the President of the European Court of Human Rights, his term starting on 18 May 2020 and concluding on 31 October 2022. Robert Spano was the youngest President in the history of the Court, elected at the age of 47.

Professor Spano graduated with a Magister Juris degree with distinction in European and Comparative Law from the University of Oxford (University College) in 2000. At Oxford, he was awarded the Clifford Chance Prize (proxime accessit) and the Civil Procedure Prize for his scholastic achievements. He also holds a Candidatus Juris degree from the University of Iceland awarded in 1997 (first class). He has written widely in the field of human rights law, public international law and international dispute resolution, including three books and over 90 articles and book chapters, and given lectures on international arbitration and ESG (business and human rights). In February 2020 he gave the Inaugural Bonavero Institute Annual Human Rights Lecture, entitled: "The Democratic Virtues of Human Rights Law - A Response to Lord Sumption's Reith Lectures", see

On 1 January 2023, he will join the leading international law firm of Gibson, Dunn and & Crutcher (London) as Of Counsel.