Taking Stock: The Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations: The Unfinished Business of Dealing with Torture


The position of Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was set up in 1985 and since then five experts have been appointed to the job. The work of this mandate, together with the work of other universal and regional treaty bodies at the universal and regional level, has contributed to the consolidation of the prohibition of torture as an unacceptable practice under any circumstances. Notwithstanding, torture continues to be practiced at many levels, in public and private spheres, and perpetrated by state and non-state actors. Moreover, the increasing number of conflicts or other forms of violent situations proliferating in many areas of the world have become fertile terrain for the practice of abhorrent forms of ill-treatment, thereby signaling that the struggle against torture continues to present a challenge for the international community. This panel will discuss the work of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and assess the role and impact of this mandate by comparing the challenges faced in the past with the increased complexity of issues that are presented today.       


  • Juan Mendez, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, United Nations, and visiting professor of law, American University Washington College of Law
  • Manfred Nowak, director, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights

Moderator: Elizabeth Ferris, director, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement

This event is part of the ASIL-American University Human Rights Speaker Series. 

Date and Location

Monday, June 1, 2015 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
American Society of International Law
Address 1: 
2223 Massachusetts Ave NW