The Advent of Universal Protection of Human Rights

Theo van Boven and the Transformation of the UN Role

  • Bertrand Ramcharan

Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 1-3
  3. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 5-13
  4. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 43-50
  5. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 51-57
  6. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 59-67
  7. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 69-78
  8. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 79-86
  9. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 107-110
  10. Bertrand Ramcharan
    Pages 111-113
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 115-150

About this book


This biography tells the story of Theo van Boven’s dynamic and courageous leadership to develop UN protection. Van Boven has been a life-long scholar and practitioner of human rights. He served in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented The Netherlands in the UN Commission on Human Rights, served as an expert in its Sub-Commission on Human Rights, and also on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He was the Director of the UN Human Rights secretariat from 1977 to 1982, and later served as Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and as UN Special Rapporteur against Torture.

As Director of the UN Human Rights secretariat, Professor van Boven built up the protection capacity of the United Nations piece by piece and thereby transformed the UN's role. He initiated every protection mechanism in use at the United Nations today. He was thus the father of the contemporary system of United Nations protection. 

This book is a priceless study of leadership and strategy. If one is to be able to deepen the protection capacity of the UN in the future, it is crucial to understand how the foundations were laid. This book, based on the personal papers of Professor van Boven and of the author, who was his Special Assistant, tells the story of his remarkable leadership of the UN Human Rights secretariat.


International Relations International Law Theo van Boven Human Rights United Nations Protection of Human Rights Human Rights Leadership Human Rights Violations UN Special Procedures System UN Human Rights

Authors and affiliations

  • Bertrand Ramcharan
    • 1
  1. 1.Airlie MountAlythUK

Bibliographic information