Philip Alston

Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

Philip Alston is a tenured professor at New York University (NYU) and co-chair and faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. He is an international lawyer whose research and teaching interests focus primarily on human rights law and the law of international organizations.

Born and educated in Australia (Law and Economics) and California (JSD), Philip taught during the 1980s at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and at Harvard Law School. He then became Professor of Law and Foundation Director of the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University, a post he held until 1995. From 1996 to 2001 he was Professor of International Law, and for part of that time Head of Department, at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy. He was also co-Director of the Academy of European Law and organized the Academy’s summer programs in human rights law. Other posts he has held include chief of staff to a Cabinet Minister in Australia during part of the Whitlam Government, and Discrimination Commissioner for the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) for three years.

Philip has been Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law since 1996 and prior to that was the Co-Editor of the Australian Yearbook of International Law. He co-founded the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law and was founding Vice-President of the European Society of International Law. From 1978 to 1984, Philip was an official of the United Nations (UN), working in Geneva on human rights issues. He has worked as a consultant to the ILO, the UNDP Human Development Report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNESCO, OECD, UNICEF and various other inter-governmental organizations.

He has also worked extensively with the non-governmental sector. He worked with the Anti-Slavery Society in London in the late 1970s, was an adviser on human rights and development issues to the International Commission of Jurists in the early 1980s, was the only lawyer on the founding Board of Physicians for Human Rights in the late 1980s, and is currently the President of the Board of the Center for Economic and Social Rights.

Within the UN context, Philip was the first Rapporteur of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, from 1987 until 1990 and then chaired the Committee for eight years until the end of 1998. He played a central role in efforts to reform and streamline the UN’s supervisory system. In 1988 he was appointed as an Independent Expert by the UN Secretary-General at the request of the General Assembly, to report on measures to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the UN human rights treaty bodies, and subsequently submitted reports on this issue in 1989, 1993 and 1997. He participated in the Meeting of Chairpersons of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies from 1988 through 1998, chairing the Meetings in 1990, 1993, and 1997-98, and acting as Rapporteur in 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1997-98. At the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, in Vienna, he was elected to chair the first-ever meeting held which involved the Presidents and Chairs of all of the international human rights courts and committees (including the European and American Human Rights Courts and the African Commission).

In the area of children’s rights he was UNICEF’s only legal adviser on children’s rights from 1985 to 1992, a period which encompassed the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the subsequent campaign which led to the Convention becoming the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history with 192 States Parties. He was subsequently a Member of the Technical Advisory Group chaired by Graça Machel which led to the publication of the UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children in 1997.

In Europe he directed a major project funded by the European Commission which resulted in the publication of a Human Rights Agenda for the European Union for the Year 2000 and a volume of essays entitled The E.U. and Human Rights, published in both English and French language versions. The project has had a major impact on the evolution of the European Union’s human rights policies in recent years.

In 2002 he was appointed by the late Sergio Vieira di Mello as Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and his representative on the Millennium Project Task Force on Poverty and Economic Development, chaired by Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

In 2014 and 2017, Philip was appointed as the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. He was previously UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions from 2004 to 2010 and undertook fact-finding missions to: Sri Lanka, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, Albania, Kenya, Brazil, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, the United States, Albania, and Ecuador. In 2005 he was elected to chair the Annual Meeting of UN Human Rights Special Procedures, which brings together all of the Special Rapporteurs, Working Groups, Special Representatives and Independent Experts working on human rights in the UN system (almost 50 in total). In 2005-06 he chaired the Coordinating Committee set up to enhance and promote coordination among these different mechanisms.

Bassam Khawaja

Bassam Khawaja

Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

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Bassam Khawaja is a human rights lawyer and Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. He previously worked for Human Rights Watch, where he was the Lebanon and Kuwait researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division and the Leonard H. Sandler Fellow in the children’s rights division. His work has focused on refugee and migrant rights, torture, education, free speech, women’s rights, the right to health, and environmental rights. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Bassam conducted legal research and advocacy on US targeted killings and drone strikes in the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic. He received a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and a law degree from Columbia University, where he was a James Kent Scholar and Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Riddell-Headshot-1024x683Rebecca Riddell

Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

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Rebecca Riddell is a Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and a lawyer whose work focuses on human rights, international law, corporate accountability, and the rights of migrants and refugees. Rebecca previously worked at Human Rights Watch and served as a law clerk to the Honorable James L. Cott in the Southern District of New York. Prior to that, she worked with Haitian social justice organizations as a student advocate with NYU’s Global Justice Clinic and conducted research in China as an International Law and Human Rights Fellow. She graduated cum laude from NYU School of Law, where she served as Digital Executive Editor of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change, and received the school’s Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize and Flora S. and Jacob L. Newman Prize. Rebecca graduated summa cum laude from Kenyon College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and was a Fulbright Scholar in Thailand.

3U2A7745Christiaan van Veen

Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

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Christiaan van Veen is an international human rights lawyer and a Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and has been a Consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Christiaan has undertaken human rights fact-finding missions to countries around the world, including China, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Mauritania, Romania, and Chile. His work has addressed a range of human rights issues, including the responsibility of international organizations for human rights violations, the relevance of human rights for development and anti-poverty policies, and the impact of austerity measures on human rights. He is currently undertaking research into the myriad ways in which new technologies affect the human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

Before joining NYU, Christiaan was an attorney in Amsterdam, where he worked for a leading law firm for close to five years. As an attorney, he represented clients before domestic and European courts and administrative bodies in the field of antitrust law, telecommunications regulation, media law, and EU law. In addition, he has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the European Commission, where he was involved in litigation before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Christiaan holds a Master’s degree in International and European Law from Utrecht University (cum laude) and a Master’s degree in International Legal Studies from NYU School of Law. In 2014, he was an NYU International Finance and Development Fellow at the World Bank Legal Vice Presidency.

Former Staff

3U2A0102Anna Bulman

Former Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, and research lead on the Economic and Social Rights Project

twitter: AnnaMBulman

Anna Bulman is a public international lawyer whose work to date has focused on global food security through the lens of international human rights, trade and investment law. She has worked in international agricultural trade at the World Trade Organization and international land investments at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment. Her academic writing focuses on the human rights to food and nutrition within international investment and human rights law, as well as international development more broadly.

Prior to joining the Center, Anna spent a year and a half leading a right to food project in the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa. Before that, she was an associate for two years to the Honourable Justice Tom Gray of the Supreme Court of South Australia, and a paralegal at Blake Dawson (now Ashurst) for two years, where she became Co-Coordinator of Pro Bono for the Adelaide office. Anna is a former South Australian Co-Convenor of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and has further previous experience in Aboriginal legal aid, representing young people in employment law matters, and teaching and mentoring students. Anna is proficient in German and Spanish, and is currently learning French. She holds a Master of Laws (James Kent Scholar) from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Laws (first class hons.), Bachelor of Arts, and Diploma of Languages from the University of Adelaide in Australia.