Professor Ben Saul appointed to the United Nations

24 October 2023
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism
The United Nations (UN) has announced the appointment of Professor Ben Saul from the Sydney Law School as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism. From 1 November 2023, Professor Saul's appointment will focus on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Professor Ben Saul, who is the Challis Chair of International Law at the Sydney Law School and an elected Fellow of the University Senate, brings extensive experience and decades of work involving some of the world’s most challenging conflicts.

As Special Rapporteur - the title given to independent experts who are called upon by the UN to report or advise on human rights – Professor Saul’s role with the UN will be instrumental in their continued effort to address and ensure countries abide by the rules of Human Rights Law.

“I am honoured to be entrusted by the international community to help all countries uphold human rights when countering terrorism and protecting its victims.

“Excessive terrorism laws and practices can obviously affect the basic rights of terror suspects, whether through extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, unfair trial, or even war crimes by state forces.

“But they can also harm the completely innocent, by invading the privacy of citizens, shutting down legitimate democratic protest, restricting NGOs and civil society, criminalising political opposition or dissent, or attacking the media.

“All of us have a stake in ensuring governments everywhere respect human rights,” said Professor Saul.

I am pleased the research environment at the University of Sydney has enabled me to acquire the expertise and global recognition to attain this appointment, and to support my work on this mandate over coming years.
Professor Ben Saul

Head of School and Dean of Law at the Sydney Law School, Professor Simon Bronitt said:

“Professor Ben Saul’s appointment as UN Special Rapporteur at this time of crisis in the world is both deserving and much needed. As we know from the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland to 9/11 attacks in the US, ‘Wars on Terror’ place significant strain upon human rights and the Rule of Law.

“Ben brings his extensive expertise in international terrorism law to a role that exists to ensure that nations, caught in the thick of fighting terrorism, never abandon their fundamental duties to respect human rights.”

Professor Saul will work to the UN’s mandate to promote and ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This includes recommending rights-compliant counter-terrorism legislation and policies; offering support, technical assistance, and expertise to States, UN entities, civil society and other relevant stakeholders; and being responsive to the shifting landscape of counter-terrorism and anticipating long-term needs and strategies.

Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Sydney, Professor Mark Scott AO congratulated Professor Saul on his appointment, saying:

“I warmly congratulate Ben on his appointment to the UN which recognises both his dedication to human rights and outstanding contributions.

“His commitment to addressing global challenges will undoubtedly make a significant impact  and continue to foster positive change.”

Professor Saul brings to this position decades of experience in academia, research, international relations and diplomacy, including advising the UN, governments, police, militaries, intelligence services and NGOs.

He has taught counter-terrorism law at Harvard Law School and has long taught terrorism-related courses to postgraduates and undergraduates at Sydney Law School.

Sally Quinn

Media and PR Adviser (Sydney Law School)

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