Macquarie University academic secures prestigious United Nations appointment

5 April 2023
Faculty of Arts


Professor Surya Deva, from the Macquarie Law School, has been appointed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to development. Appointment as independent human rights expert is regarded as one of the highest recognitions in the field.

The right to development is the right of every human being to participate in, to contribute to and to benefit from economic, social, cultural and political development. More than 35 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development, billions of people across the world are yet to see their right to development realised. In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council appointed the first Special Rapporteur on the right to development to represent this mandate.

Following a rigorous selection process, Professor Deva was officially appointed by the Human Rights Council as the second Special Rapporteur on the right to development on 4 April 2023, after being recommended by the President of the Human Rights Council as the preferred candidate.

Professor Deva’s term will begin on 1 May 2023 for an initial period of three years. As part of his role, Professor Deva will develop international standards in relation to the right to development, present annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and UN General Assembly in New York, provide technical advice to governments, conduct country visits to assess how states are implementing the right to development, and accept complaints against states and other actors breaching the right to development.

“I am honoured and delighted to take up the role of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to development,” says Professor Deva. “By adopting an inclusive, consultative and intersectional approach, I will aim to mainstream the right to development and push for its realisation in all world regions.”

Professor Deva is a Professor at the Macquarie Law School and Director of the Centre for Environmental Law, Australia’s oldest environmental law research centre. He is an internationally recognised scholar in the field of business and human rights, and has extensive experience advising UN agencies, governments, national human rights institutions, multinational corporations, trade unions and civil society organisations. He also researches in the areas of comparative constitutional law, sustainable development, climate change, international human rights law, and gender equality.

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