John H. Knox

John H. Knox

Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law

John Knox is an internationally recognized expert on human rights law and international environmental law. From 2012 to 2015, he served as the first United Nations Independent Expert, and from 2015 to 2018, as its first Special Rapporteur, on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In that role, he submitted a series of reports to the UN Human Rights Council on the application of human rights law to environmental issues, including climate change and the conservation of biological diversity. In 2018, he concluded his mandate by presenting Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment to the United Nations, and by calling upon the UN General Assembly to recognize the human right to a healthy and sustainable environment.

His recent scholarship has focused on issues arising at the intersection of human rights and environmental protection. In 2018, he published a co-edited volume of essays on the human right to a healthy environment, and he is currently writing a book on the evolution of environmental rights in international law. In 2003, he was awarded the Francis Deák Prize, established by the American Society of International Law to honor a younger author who has made a "meritorious contribution to international legal scholarship." For four years, until 2005, he chaired a national advisory committee to EPA on the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the first regional environmental organization in North America, and from 2008 to 2012, he was of counsel to the Center for International Environmental Law. He is currently on the board of the Universal Rights Group, a human rights institution in Geneva, and of Wake Forest University's Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability.

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1987 and clerking for Judge Joseph T. Sneed of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, John served as an attorney-adviser at the Department of State from 1988 to 1994. He spent four years in private practice in Austin, Texas and taught at Penn State for eight years before joining Wake Forest in 2006. He is married to Julie Winterich, a professor of sociology at Guilford College, and they have three daughters.
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Education

  • JD, Stanford Law School, 1987
  • BA in Economics and English, magna cum laude, Rice University, 1984

Publications

Books

  • The Evolution of Environmental Rights: Applying Human Rights to Environmental Protection (Cambridge University Press).
  • The Human Right to a Healthy Environment (2018).
  • Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties (Center for Progressive Reform 2012).
  • Greening NAFTA: The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (Stanford University Press 2003).
  • Handbook on International Trade in Agricultural Products (prepared for Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture 2000).

Book Chapters

  • The Paris Agreement as a Human Rights Treaty, in Human Rights in the 21st Century (Dominic Roser 2018).
  • Human Rights Principles and Climate Change, in Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law (Cinnamon Carlarne et al., eds. 2016).
  • Environmental Disasters and Human Rights, in The Role of International Environmental Law in Reducing Disaster Risk (Jacqueline Peel & David Fisher eds. 2016).
  • The United Nations Mandate on Human Rights and the Environment, in New Frontiers in Environmental Constitutionalism (Erin Daly et al., eds. 2017).
  • International Environmental Law in North America, in International Environmental Law: The Practitioner's Guide to the Laws of the Planet (Grosko & Martella eds. 2014).
  • Climate Change as a Threat to Human Rights, in Oxford Handbook on Climate Change Law.
  • International Environmental Agreements in North America, in .
  • North American Free Trade Agreement, in Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability (2012).
  • The Ruggie Rules: Applying Human Rights Law to Corporations, in The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Radu Mares 2011).
  • Diagonal Environmental Rights, in Universal Human Rights and Extraterritorial Obligations (Sigrud Skogly and Mark Gibney 2010).
  • The Flawed Trail Smelter Procedure, in Transboundary Harms in International Law: Lessons from the Trail Smelter Arbitration (2006).
  • The International Law of Biodiversity, in Biodiversity: Addressing a Global Issue Locally (2005).

Articles

Other

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur: Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/37/59 (January 24, 2018).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur: Children's Rights and the Environment, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/37/58 (January 24, 2018).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur - Mission to Madagascar, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/34/49/Add.1 (April 26, 2017).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment: Biodiversity and Human Rights, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/34/49 (January 19, 2017).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Climate Change, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/31/52 (February 1, 2016).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Methods of Implementation, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/31/15 (December 28, 2015).
  • Report of the Independent Expert on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Mission to France, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/28/61/Add.1 (March 6, 2015).
  • Report of the Independent Expert on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Compilation of Good Practices, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/28/61 (February 3, 2015).
  • Report of the Independent Expert on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Mission to Costa Rica, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/25/53/Add.1 (March 21, 2014).
  • Mapping Report on Human Rights and the Environment, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/25/53 (December 30, 2013).
  • Preliminary Report of the Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/43 (December 24, 2012).
  • Citizen Suits in International Environmental Law: The North American Experience, in Making Law Work: Environmental Compliance and Sustainable Development (January 2002).

Media

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John H. Knox
Contact Information
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