S. James Anaya is a Regents Professor and the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law (USA), where he teaches and writes in the areas of international human rights and issues concerning indigenous peoples.
In 2008 the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Professor Anaya as its Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a position in which he served until June 2014. In that capacity he monitored the human rights conditions of indigenous peoples worldwide, addressed situations in which their rights were being violated, and promoted practical measures to secure indigenous peoples’ rights, travelling frequently to meet with government officials and visit indigenous communities.
Among his noteworthy activities, he participated in the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and was the lead counsel for the indigenous parties in the case of Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the first time upheld indigenous land rights as a matter of international law.
Prior to becoming a full time law professor, he practiced law in Albuquerque, New Mexico, representing Native American peoples and other minority groups. For his work during that period, Barrister magazine, a national publication of the American Bar Association, named him as one of “20 young lawyers who make a difference.” Professor Anaya has lectured in many countries throughout the world. He has advised numerous indigenous and other organizations from several countries on matters of human rights and indigenous peoples, and he has represented indigenous groups from many parts of North and Central America in landmark cases before courts and international organizations.
Professor Anaya is a graduate of the University of New Mexico (B.A., 1980) and Harvard Law School (J.D., 1983). He was on the law faculty at the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1999, and he has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Toronto, and the University of Tulsa. Among his numerous publications are his acclaimed book, Indigenous Peoples in International Law, and his widely used textbook, International Human Rights: Problems of Law, Policy and Process (with Hannum and Shelton).
Professor Anaya was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.