Juan E. Méndez is professor of human rights law in residence at the American University-Washington College of Law and was the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment from November 2010 to October 31, 2016. In 2017, he was a member of the Selection Committee (Comité de Escogencia) that appoints magistrates to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission outlined in the peace accords between Colombia and the FARC guerrillas.
Méndez is the author – with Marjorie Wentworth – of Taking a Stand (New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, October 2011), a Spanish and updated version of which was to appear in 2019 by Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico. He was elected a commissioner to the International Commission of Jurists (Geneva, Switzerland) in January 2017 and has been an advisor on crime prevention to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. In 2010 and 2011, Méndez was also co-chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association.
Until May 2009, Méndez was the president of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and scholar-in-residence at the Ford Foundation in New York (summer 2009). Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, he was Kofi Annan’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide (2004 to 2007). Between 2000 and 2003, he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and served as its president in 2002.
Méndez has taught international law and human rights at Oxford University, Notre Dame Law School, Georgetown University, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He worked for Human Rights Watch in Washington and New York (1982-1996) and as executive director of the Inter-American Institute on Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica (1996-1999).