Lyal sunga

Lyal S. Sunga is a well-known specialist on international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.


Sunga is Visiting Professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden, and has had a number of important responsibilities in the United Nations as a staff member from 1994–2001 — mainly on problems relating to serious human rights and humanitarian law violations, issues involving war and recovery from post-conflict situations, and fact-finding about human rights violations. He has also been an expert consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations University, the United Nations Development Program, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the European Union, the International Development Law Organization, the Ethiopian National Human Rights Commission and the Ugandan National Human Rights Commission.

Sunga has been a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer or Visiting Professor in faculties of law at McGill University, Carleton University, Helsinki University, Padjadjaran University, University of Geneva, the University of Hong Kong, Peking University and Lund University. He has lectured in human rights, humanitarian law and international criminal law at these institutes.

Sunga holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University, a Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, a Master of Laws in International Human Rights Law from University of Essex and a Ph.D. in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies. Before joining the Raoul Wallenberg Institute he was a member of the faculty at the University of Hong Kong where he taught classes in law and served as Director of the Master of Laws Program in Human Rights (2001–2005). He has also given university courses, lectures, training or conference presentations in approximately 45 countries. Sunga's work has been published in numerous scholarly academic journals and he has authored two books on international criminal law.

From 1994 to 2001 Sunga worked for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, first to assist in the investigation of facts and responsibilities relating to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda for the UN Security Council's Commission of Experts on Rwanda to draft the Commission's report recommending the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and then on the establishment and operation of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda. He also has practical experience and expertise relating to the International Criminal Court, terrorism, redress for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, impunity, the death penalty, human rights defenders, the administration of justice, the role of human rights NGOs in fact-finding, and the relation between national truth and reconciliation commissions and criminal prosecutions.

From September to December 2007 Dr. Sunga took leave from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute to act as Geneva-based coordinator of the UN Human Rights Council's Group of Experts on Darfur, mandated to assess the Government of the Sudan's implementation of UN recommendations concerning serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed during the war in Darfur.

Published works


  • The Emerging System of International Criminal Law: Developments in Codification and Implementation, Kluwer (1997) 508 p.
  • Individual Responsibility in International Law for Serious Human Rights Violations, Nijhoff (1992) 252 p.

Book sections

  • Humanitarian Space in the Arab Spring, in Humanitarian Space: Webster University (2011) 282-320.
  • What Should Be the UN Human Rights Council’s Role in Investigating Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity? in New Challenges for the UN Human Rights Machinery (2011) 319-349.
  • What Makes Democracy Good? in "Making Peoples Heard", Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (2011) 81-98.
  • Does the Concept of 'Human Security' Add Anything of Value to International Legal Theory or Practice? in “Power and Justice in International Relations” Ashgate (2009) 131–146.
  • What Effect If Any Will the UN Human Rights Council Have on Special Procedures? in International Human Rights Monitoring Mechanisms (2nd ed.)(2009)169–183.
  • Ten Principles for Reconciling Truth Commissions and Criminal Prosecutions, in The Legal Regime of the ICC, Brill (2009) 1071–1104.
  • Is Humanitarian Intervention Legal?, on“e-international relations website” 13 October 2008.
  • Dilemmas of NGO Involvement in Coalition-Occupied Iraq, in Bell and Coicaud, Ethics in Action: The Ethical Challenges of International Human Rights Nongovernmental Organizations, United Nations University (2007) 99–116.
  • The Role of Humanitarian Intervention in International Peace and Security: Guarantee or Threat? Int’l Progress Organization & Google Books (2006) 41–79.
  • NGO Involvement in International Human Rights Monitoring, in International Human Rights Law and Non-Governmental Organizations, Bruylant (2005) 41–69.
  • International Criminal Law Protection of Minority Rights, in Skurbaty (ed), Beyond a One-Dimensional State: An Emerging Right to Autonomy? Brill (2004).
  • Independence and Fairness of the ICC, in Study on Major Issues Relating to the International Criminal Court (People’s Court Press) (2003) 24–30 (in Putonghua).
  • US Anti-Terrorism Policy and Asia’s Options, in Johannen, Smith and Gomez, (eds.) September 11 & Political Freedoms: Asian Perspectives (Select) (2002) 242–264.
  • Full Respect for the Rights of Suspect, Accused and Convict: from Nuremberg and Tokyo to the ICC, in Henzelin and Roth (eds), Le droit pénal à l’épreuve de l’internationalisation, (Bruylant) (2002) 217–239.
  • The Special Procedures of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights: Should They Be Scrapped?, in Alfredsson (ed), International Human Rights Monitoring Mechanisms (Kluwer) (2001) 231–275.
  • A Competência Ratione Materiae da Corte Internacional Criminal: Arts. 5 a 10 Do Estatuto de Roma, in Ambos and Choukr (eds.) Tribunal Penal Internacional (Editora RT) (2000) 191 – 219 (in Portuguese).
  • La Jurisdicción ratione materiae de la Corte Penal Internacional (parte II, arts. 5° a 10°), in Ambos (eds.) El Estatuto de Roma: de la Corte Penal Internacional (Universidad externado de Colombia) (1999) 233–268 (in Spanish).

Law journal articles

  • Commentary on Judgement of the ICTR Case of Prosecutor v. Zigiranyirazo, 32 Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals (2011) 240-258.
  • Does Climate Change Kill People in Darfur? 2(1) Journal of Human Rights and the Environment (March 2011) 64-85.
  • How Can UN Human Rights Special Procedures Sharpen ICC Fact-Finding? 15(2) The International Journal of Human Rights (2011) 187-204.
  • Introduction to the “Lund Statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the Human Rights Special Procedures” 76 Nordic Journal of International Law (2007) 1–20.
  • The Kordic and Cerkez Trial Chamber Judgment: A Comment on the Main Legal Issues 7 Series of Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals (2004) 490–511.
  • The International Community’s Recognition of Certain Acts as ‘Crimes under International Law’, International Review of Penal Law (Erès) Proceedings of the International Conference held in Siracusa, Italy, 28 November – 3 December 2002, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of ISISC (2004) 303–315.
  • Can International Humanitarian Law Play an Effective Role in Occupied Iraq? 3 Indian Society of International Law Yearbook of International Humanitarian and Refugee Law (2003) 1–21.
  • Musings on ‘The Future of International Criminal Justice’, (Review Article) 11(2) Asia Pacific Law Review (2003) 217–232.
  • Will the International Criminal Court be Fair and Impartial?, 2 (1) Article 2 (February 2003) 9–20.
  • The Attitude of Asian Countries Towards the International Criminal Court, 2 Indian Society of International Law Yearbook of International Humanitarian and Refugee Law (2002) 18–57.
  • The United Nations System for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights with Special Reference to South Korea and the New National Human Rights Commission, 4 Sang Saeng (Summer 2002) 45–50.
  • The Celebici Case: A Comment on the Main Legal Issues in the ICTY’s Trial Chamber Judgement, 13 Leiden Journal of International Law (2000) 105–138.
  • The Crimes within the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court: (Part II, Articles 5 – 10), 6/4 European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (1998) 377–399.
  • The First Indictments of the ICTR, 18 Human Rights Law Journal (1997) 329–340.
  • The Comm’n of Experts on Rwanda and Creation of the ICTR 16 Human Rights Law Journal (1995) 121–124.

Selected reports for the United Nations and European Union

  • Expert Background Papers for the 12th European Union-NGO Human Rights Forum, 12–13 July 2010 in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Expert Background Paper for Workshop on International Criminal Justice Education for the Rule of Law at the 12th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, 12–19 April 2010 in Salvador, Brazil — UN Doc. A/CONF.213/12 of 5 February 2010.
  • In-Depth Study on the Linkages between Anti-Corruption and Human Rights for the United Nations Development Program Including ‘Concept Note’ and Appendix (2007, pp 79).
  • Expert Background Paper "Impunity as a Threat to Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law", presented at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Expert Seminar on the interdependence between democracy and human rights, 28 February – 2 March 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Report of the Second Expert Seminar on "Democracy and the Rule of Law" (Geneva, 28 February – 2 March 2005); UN Doc. E/CN.4/2005/58 of 18 March 2005.


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