Juan E. Méndez

President Emeritus of ICTJ

Juan E. Méndez is President Emeritus of ICTJ, which he served as President from 2004 to 2009. Originally from Argentina, Méndez has dedicated his legal career to defending human rights. His advocacy led to his arrest and torture by the Argentinean military dictatorship, resulting in more than a year of administrative detention. Recognized as a "Prisoner of Conscience" by Amnesty International, Méndez was expelled from Argentina in 1977 and relocated to the United States. He has taught International Human Rights Law at prestigious institutions such as Georgetown Law School and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, along with regular contributions to the Oxford Master's Program (MSt) in International Human Rights Law in the United Kingdom, where he serves as a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College. Méndez has received numerous human rights accolades, including the Rafael Lemkin Award for contributions to the prevention of genocide by the Auschwitz Institute on Peace and Reconciliation in 2010. 

Juan E. Méndez holds the position of Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence at American University – Washington College of Law, where he serves as Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative, a project under WCL’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Previously, he served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment from 2010 to 2016. Méndez is also the co-author (with Marjory Wentworth) of "Taking A Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights" (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), with an updated Spanish version released in 2019 by Fondo de Cultura Económica, México. 

In addition to his academic roles, Méndez has contributed significantly to international organizations. He was elected Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland, in early 2017, and served on the Selection Committee to appoint magistrates of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission as part of the Colombian Peace Accords. Previously, he advised on crime prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from 2009 to 2011 and co-chaired the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association in 2010 and 2011.