New Zealand post for rights advocate

  • Date

    Fri 5 Oct 18

Professor Paul Hunt

Essex human rights expert Professor Paul Hunt will take up a new role, holding the New Zealand Government to account, in January.

Professor Hunt, a leading figure in the international advancement of social, cultural and economic rights has been appointed the Chief Human Rights Commissioner at what is one of the world’s oldest national human rights institutions, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

Working independently of the New Zealand Government, Professor Hunt will be responsible for advancing the realisation of human rights and holding the country’s Government to account for its international obligations.

Professor Hunt has been working in civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights since the 1980s. In January this year he was one of nine experts appointed to Scotland’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

He has previously held roles as UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and as advisor to the Assistant-Director-General of the World Health Organisation.

Professor Hunt, a New Zealand and British national, said: “My previous work with Liberty, the Quakers in Israel and Palestine, with the United Nations, and in Scotland in my advisory role to the First Minister has required me to become well-versed in working across the political spectrum.

“Most especially, I am committed to making human rights real in the everyday lives of everybody.”

Professor Karen Hulme
"He is a very warm and thoughtful colleague...he will bring such a wealth of experience, care and integrity to this new role."
Professor Karen Hulme school of law

Professor Hunt was appointed by New Zealand’s Governor-General after an independent selection process and cross-party consultation. He will be based in New Zealand and will remain connected to Essex, which he joined in 2000.

Head of the School of Law, Professor Karen Hulme, said: “Those of us in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre, who have worked with Paul for many years are so proud of this outstanding achievement. It is a reflection of the contribution he has made to the promotion and protection of human rights globally and also of the role he has played here at Essex in helping to pioneer our unique approach to the theory, teaching and practice of human rights.

“He is a very warm and thoughtful colleague and many of us, particularly early career researchers, have benefitted from his supportive and calming nature. He will bring such a wealth of experience, care and integrity to this new role and we congratulate him.”

Speaking this week, New Zealand’s Justice Minister Andrew Little congratulated Professor Hunt and said he “brings a wealth of experience in improving human rights both nationally and abroad.”