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Juan E. Mendez

Juan E. Mendez (born 11 December 1944) is an Argentine lawyer and academic who served as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide from 14 July 2004 until 29 May 2007. He is currently the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, located in New York City.

Immediately prior to his appointment with the United Nations, Mendez was serving as president of the International Center for Transitional Justice. A native of Lomas de Zamora in Buenos Aires Province, Mendez dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights. As a result of his involvement in representing political prisoners, he was arrested and subjected to torture and administrative detention for a year and a half during the Argentine military dictatorship. During this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. After his release from detention in the late 1970s, Mendez moved to the United States.

For 15 years, he worked with Human Rights Watch, concentrating his efforts on human rights issues in the Western hemisphere. In 1994, he became general counsel of Human Rights Watch, with worldwide duties in support of the organizations mission, including responsibility for the organizations litigation and standard-setting activities. From 1996 to 1999, Mendez was the executive director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica. Between October 1999 and May 2004 he was a professor of law and director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S.. 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.

Related websites


Announcement from the United Nations of his appointment

Interview on Democracy Now!

Speech to Swarthmore College on the Darfur conflict

Report of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide: Visit to Darfur, Sudan (PDF)

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