Board of Trustees

The Universal Rights Group’s strategic direction is guided by the Board of Trustees. Meeting at least once a year, it can also contribute to, approve and amend the URG’s biennial programme of work.

The Board is made up of eminent experts from the world of human rights including current and former Special Procedure mandate-holders, current and former members of treaty bodies, former foreign ministers, international judges, heads of human rights NGOs and leading academics.

The URG aims to achieve regional and gender balance in all its governing bodies and in its secretariat.

Honorary President of the Universal Rights Group

Jose Ramos Horta President Jose Ramos Horta (Timor-Leste) – former President of Timor-Leste and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Members of the Board

Nigel RodleyProfessor Sir Nigel Rodley (UK) – Chair and member of the UN Human Rights Committee; former UN Special Rapporteur on torture; and Professor of Law and Chair at the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex.

ProfMichael OFlahertyessor Michael O’Flaherty (Ireland) – Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; Professor of Human Rights and Co-director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway; member and latterly vice-chair of the UN Human Rights Committee, 2004-2012; and former senior UN human rights official.
Nazila GhaneaDr. Nazila Ghanea-Hercock (Iran) – expert on human rights and religion and women’s rights at the University of Oxford (UK) and founding editor of International Journal of Religion and Human Rights.
Juan MendezProfessor Juan Mendez (Argentina) – former UN Special Rapporteur on torture; President Emeritus of the International Center for Transitional Justice; and former Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.
John KnoxProfessor John Knox (US) – UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment; and Professor of international law at Wake Forest University (US).


A B AkuffoJustice Sophia A. B. Akuffo (Ghana) – Judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana; President and Judge of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights; and member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute.
Daniel MagrawProfessor Daniel Magraw (US) – President Emeritus of the Center for International Environmental Law; Professor at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; and Elizabeth Haub Prize Laureate.
Paul HuntProfessor Paul Hunt (New Zealand, UK) – former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health; former member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; member of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex; and Adjunct Professor at Waikato University.
Yasmin SookaMs. Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) – Executive Director for the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa; member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Expert Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka; member of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1995-2003); and International Commissioner to the Truth Commission of Sierra Leone.
Yasmin SookaProfessor Heiner Bielefeldt (Germany) – former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany); former Director of Germany’s National Human Rights Institution (2003-2009).
Catarina de AlbuquerqueMs. Catarina de Albuquerque (Portugal) – Executive Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership,  former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation (formerly Independent Expert); formerly chair of negotiations on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2004-2008).
ChristofProfessor Christof Heyns (South Africa) – member of the UN Human Rights Committee; former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria.