Manfred Nowak, an Austrian native, is one of the leading human rights activists in the world. He has a JD from the University of Vienna (’73), an LLM from Columbia University (’75), and a PhD in Constitutional Law from the University of Vienna (’86). In 1992 Nowak co-founded the Ludwig Boltzman Institute of Human Rights, which has grown to be the largest human rights institute in Austria.
Nowak was a member of the Austrian delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1986–1993. He was a judge on the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina between March 1996 and December 2003, and served as vice president of the Chamber from December 1997 to December 1998.
From 2004 to October 2010 Nowak was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. He was one of the five authors of a UN report on the detention of captives at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In January 2009, Nowak said on German television he believed the United States had a clear obligation to bring proceedings against President George W. Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, because of torture inflicted on detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
From 2006-2012, Nowak was a visiting professor at American University Washington College of Law’s Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. He then returned to the University of Vienna, teaching International Law and Human Rights. In 2016, Nowak was appointed the Secretary General at European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization, an interdisciplinary center formed by 41 universities from EU Member States. It is located in Venice, Italy.
Nowak is the author of more than 500 publications, ranging from articles to books, in the fields of constitutional, administrative and international law, as well as human rights and development studies.