Professor Nils Melzer
- Professor in International Law (School of Law)
Professor Melzer also holds the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and currently serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Professor Melzer has served for 12 years with the International Committee of the Red Cross in various zones of conflict and violence. After leaving the ICRC, he held academic positions as Research Director of the Swiss Competence Centre on Human Rights (University of Zürich), as Swiss Chair for International Humanitarian Law (Geneva Academy) and as Senior Fellow for Emerging Security Challenges (Geneva Centre for Security Policy), and has represented civil society in the Steering Committee of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. Most recently, Melzer served as Senior Security Policy Adviser to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
Professor Melzer has authored award winning and widely translated works including inter alia, "Targeted Killing in International Law" (Oxford, 2008, Guggenheim Prize 2009), the ICRC's "Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities" (2009), and the ICRC's official handbook "International Humanitarian Law - a Comprehensive Introduction" (2016). He also authored the EU Parliament's legal and policy study on "Human Rights Implications of the Usage of Drones and Robots in Warfare" (2013), and co-authored the NATO CCDCOE "Tallinn Manual on the International Law applicable to Cyber Warfare" (Cambridge, 2013), and the NATO MCDC "Policy Guidance Autonomy in Defence Systems", (NATO ACT, 2014).
Throughout his career, Professor Melzer has fought to preserve human dignity and the rule of law through the relentless promotion, reaffirmation and clarification of international legal standards offering protection to those exposed to armed conflicts and other situations of violence.
Professor Melzer is a specialized international lawyer with a strong background in humanitarian and diplomatic practice. Most notably, he has served with the International Committee of the Red Cross for 12 years as a delegate, legal adviser and acting head of delegation in various zones of conflict and violence. Professor Melzer has also served with the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs as a senior security policy adviser, including on the regulation and supervision of private security services exportation and on the development and international representation of Government policies on cyber security and autonomous weapons. On 30 September 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed him the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
- International law and the international, national and human aspects of global security.
- International and national rule of law; human rights law; the laws of armed conflict; United National law; general principles of law and the international ordre public;
- Freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment;
- Use of force in interstate-relations, military hostilities, law enforcement and individual self-defence;
- Legal and security implications of new technologies, including cyber-technology and autonomous systems;
- Legal implications of the rise of non-state actors on the world stage, including private security contractors, organized armed groups and transnational crime.
Professor Melzer is interested in supervising research students in international law, and in particular in the following areas: human rights law, humanitarian law, UN law, custom and general principles of law.
- Joint winner of Paul Guggenheim Prize 2009 for the monograph “Targeted Killing in International Law” (OUP, 2008) at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva (IHEID).
- Member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo, Italy
- Official Website of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx