Mr. Juan E. Méndez, J.D. is a lawyer and human rights activist from Argentina who, since November 2010, has been the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. He also currently serves as a Visiting Professor of Law at American University – Washington School of Law, and President Emeritus of the International Center for Transitional Justice. In 2009 and 2010, he was the Special Advisor on Prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He is 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 in the summer of 2009 he was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York. Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, the Honorable Kofi Annan named Mr. Méndez his Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, a task he performed from 2004 to 2007.
Early in his career, he became involved in representing political prisoners. As a result, he was arrested by the Argentinean military dictatorship and subjected to torture and administrative detention for 18 months. During this period, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience,” and in 1977, he was expelled from the country and moved to the United States.
Mr. Méndez is also on the Board of Advisors of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and on the Advisory Council of the Center for Human Rights at the American Bar Association. He has taught at Georgetown Law School and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and teaches regularly at the Oxford Masters Program in International Human Rights Law. He earned a J.D. from Stella Maris University in Argentina, and a certificate from American University’s Washington College of Law, in Washington D.C.