John Knox is the Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law at Wake Forest University, where he has taught since 2006. From 2012 to 2015, he served as the first United Nations Independent Expert, and from 2015 to 2018, as the 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.
John currently serves on the board of the Universal Rights Group, a human rights institution in Geneva, and on the board of Wake Forest University’s Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability. Previously, he chaired a national advisory committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the first regional environmental organization in North America, and served as special counsel to the Center for International Environmental Law.
Prior to joining Wake Forest, John served as an attorney-adviser at the Department of State, worked in private practice in Austin, Texas, and taught at Pennsylvania State University.