Theo van Boven is honorary professor of international law at Maastricht University. In earlier years he was a staff member of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands representative on the then United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He served as the Director of Human Rights of the United Nations and he was a member of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. In the latter capacity he was the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Restitution, Compensation and Rehabilitation for Victims of Gross Violations of Human Rights. He also was a member of the treaty body Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and he served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur against Torture. He was the first Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and he was the head of the Netherlands delegation to the United Nations Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (Rome, 1998).
In the world of civil society organizations he was President of the Netherlands Society of International Law; Member and Vice-President of the International Commission of Jurists; Moderator of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches: Board Member of the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism; and Member of the Advisory Board of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. His education background and honours include: Master of Comparative Law ( Southern Methodist University, Dallas,Texas,1960),Doctor of Law( University of Leiden,1967), and Doctor Honoris Causa ( Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve (1982), Erasmus University of Rotterdam (1988),University of New York at Buffalo (1992), Universidad de Buenos Aires (2009).
He is a recipient of the Louise Weiss Prize (Strasbourg, 1982), the Right Livelihood Honorary Award (Stockholm, 1985), and the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize ( The Hague,2004).He was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and New York University Law School and he lectured at a number of study sessions of the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He has written extensively on issues concerning international human rights and humanitarian law.