Theo Van Boven

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Theo van Boven Professor of International Law

"Since December 2001, Theo van Boven (1934) has been appointed as UN Special Rapporteur against Torture. He has served as Director of Human Rights of the United Nations and has been a member of the United Nations Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and of the Committee on the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination. He was also the first Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He is President of the Netherlands Association of International Law; Vice-President of the International Commission of Jurists; and a member of the Board of the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism. His education background and honours include: Master of Comparative Law (Dallas, Texas 1960), Doctor of Law (Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, 1967), Doctor Honoris Causa (Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, 1982, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, 1988, University of New York at Buffalo, 1991), Recipient of the Louise Weiss Prize (Strasbourg, 1982), and of the Right Livelihood Honorary Award (Stockholm, 1985). He was also a visiting professor at Harvard Law School (1987) and at the New York University Law School (1990). He has written extensively on international human rights and humanitarian law." [1]

"Theo C. Van Boven, a Dutch diplomat known for his strong support of human rights, was appointed director of the UN Center for Human Rights in 1976 and steered it to a higher-profile role. Van Boven worked very closely with NGOs-too closely, according to his critics, among whom the Argentine government was the most vehement. Van Boven defended his close relations with NGOs. "It was thanks to them, in fact, that we could carry on our work, because I've always claimed that 85 percent of our information came from NGOs. We did not have the resources or staff to collect information ourselves, so we were dependent. They did a lot of work which we should do at the UN"" (Keck and Sikkink, Activists Without Borders, 1998, p.96)

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. 20 Years of Peacebuilding, International Alert, accessed August 13, 2007.
  2. Syrian Human Rights Defender receives 2005 Martin Ennals Award, Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, accessed August 14, 2007.
  3. Editors and Editorial Board, Human Rights Quarterly, accessed March 22, 2010.