Nils Melzer


Prof. Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. © KEYSTONE / Martial Trezzini
© KEYSTONE / Martial Trezzini

Prof. Nils Melzer is the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He is also Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow. On 1 November 2016, he took up the function of UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Prof. Melzer has served for 12 years with the International Committee of the Red Cross as a Legal Adviser, Delegate and Deputy Head of Delegation in various zones of conflict and violence. After leaving the ICRC in 2011, 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.

In the course of his career, Prof. Melzer has also served as Senior Security Policy Adviser to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, has carried out advisory mandates for influential institutions such as the United Nations, the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, and has regularly been invited to provide expert testimonies, including to the UN First Committee, the UN CCW, the UNSG Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, and various Parliamentary Commissions of the European Union, Germany and Switzerland.

Prof. Melzer has authored award-winning and widely translated books, including: "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), as well as numerous other publications in the field of international law. In view of his expertise in new technologies, Prof. Melzer has been mandated by the EU Parliament to author a legal and policy study on "Human Rights Implications of the Usage of Drones and Robots in Warfare" (2013) and has also 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, Prof. 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.