Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Professor Surya P Subedi O.B.E.

Professor of International Law

Dr Surya P. Subedi is Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds. He has published extensively in several areas of international law, including six books and nearly 60 articles in major international law journals and chapters in edited books. One of his books entitled ‘International Investment Law: Reconciling Policy and Principle’ (Hart Publishing, Oxford) is now in its 3rd edition. It has been translated into Chinese and published in China.

He is a practising Barrister in England & Wales. His name has been designated to serve on the Panels of Arbitrators and of Conciliators of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and on the Panels of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He was elected to the Institut de Droit International in 2011 and made a full member in 2015.

Professor Subedi was the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia for six years between 2009 and 2015 during which he produced four substantive and substantial reports on judicial, parliamentary, electoral, and land reform in the country and many of his recommendations were implemented by the Government of Cambodia. He also served as a member of the Advisory Group on Human Rights to the British Foreign Secretary between 2010 and 2015. 

He is Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Asian Journal of International Law (published by Cambridge University Press) and was its Editor between 2010 and 2015. He also is Chairman of the Research Committee of the Asian Society of International Law.

He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to international law and to Britain-Nepal relations in 2004. He also was decorated by His late Majesty King Birendra of Nepal with a high-level State honour, Suprabal Gorkha Daxinbahu, for services to international law and to the nation in 1998. 

Professor Subedi was awarded the Dasturzada Pavry Memorial Prize for an outstanding thesis for his DPhil thesis by the University of Oxford in 1993, the Josephine Onoh Memorial Prize for best LLM student by the University of Hull in 1988 and an SPTL Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship by Younger Scholars by the British Society of Legal Scholars in 1998.

Research Interests

He maintains an active research interest in all major areas of international law and especially in international investment law, international human rights law, WTO law, the Law of the Sea, and international watercourses law.


He currently teaches Global Governance through Law, Public International Law, and International Investment Law

PhD Supervision

He has supervised 24 PhD students to successful completion and would be willing to consider good research proposals from strong candidates for research in any area of international law. 

Key Publications


  • Subedi SP, International Investment Law: Reconciling Policy and Principle, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2016)

    The third edition of this acclaimed textbook offers an up-to-date, scholarly overview of the law of foreign investment, incorporating a thorough and succinct analysis of the principles and standards of treatment available to foreign investors in international law. It is authoritative and multi-layered, offering an analysis of the key issues and an insightful assessment of recent trends in the case-law, from both developed and developing country perspectives. A major feature of the book is that it deals with the tension between the law of foreign investment and other competing principles of international law. In doing so, it proposes ways of achieving a balance between these principles and the need to protect the legitimate rights and expectations of foreign investors on the one hand, and the need not to unduly restrict the right of host governments to implement their public policy, including the protection of the environment and human rights, and the promotion of social and economic justice within the host country, on the other.

Journal articles

  • Subedi SP, ‘The universality of human rights and the UN human rights agenda: the impact of the shift of power to the East and the resurgence of the BRICS’, Indian Journal of International Law, 55.2 (2015), 177-207
    DOI: 10.1007/s40901-015-0011-2, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/96259/

    A dominant common perception is that the UN agenda of human rights is of Western origin and that such Western countries deploy their intellectual capital and financial power to support human rights worldwide. There is fear that the perceived economic and corresponding potential political decline of the West will have a detrimental impact on the international human rights agenda. This article examines whether the UN human rights agenda is still a Western agenda. What do we mean by the ‘West’? What is the basis of the claim of the universality of human rights? What are the challenges and opportunities offered to the UN human rights agenda by the rise of multi-polarism or the resurgence of the BRICS countries in general and China and India in particular? This article argues that the rise of the BRICS countries in general and China in particular is likely to diminish the policing role of the West, but not undermine the essence of the ethos that lay behind the UN human rights agenda. The impetus to continue to promote the value of human rights everywhere is in principle secure, but making the protection of human rights a reality for hundreds of millions of people depends on the reform of the UN’s human rights system.

  • Subedi SP, ‘The un Human Rights Special Rapporteurs and the Impact of their Work: Some Reflections of the un Special Rapporteur for Cambodia’, Asian Journal of International Law, 6.1 (2015), 1-14
    DOI: 10.1017/S2044251315000132, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/96002/

    © Asian Journal of International Law 2015.As one of only twelve UN country-specific mandate holders, and as the longest-serving UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, my work has had a significant impact on the situation of human rights in that country, with many of my recommendations having been implemented by the government. The Parliament of Cambodia has enacted three fundamental laws designed to enhance the independence and capacity of the judiciary, and has amended the Constitution of the country to make the National Election Commission a constitutional, independent, and autonomous body, in line with my recommendations. In this paper I examine the role of the UN country-specific mandate holders, the approach that I took to implement my mandate in Cambodia, and the impact of my work in that country.

  • Subedi SP, ‘China's Approach to Human Rights and the un Human Rights Agenda’, Chinese Journal of International Law, 14.3 (2015), 437-464
    DOI: 10.1093/chinesejil/jmv037, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/96001/

    © 2015 The Author.There is an apprehension in the democratic world about the possible impact of the economic rise of China on the UN human rights agenda. Although Communist China has embraced capitalism by liberalising its economy, by joining the WTO and by recognising private entrepreneurship and the right to private property, it has not been an enthusiastic partner when it comes to promoting and protecting human rights. China has supported the idea of so-called "Asian values", or cultural and political relativism, as well as promoting the idea of a "China Model of Democracy", which seeks to support economic growth at the expense of civil and political rights. This article examines China's approach to human rights both within and outside of the UN and whether China's rise as a major economic power poses a threat or offers an opportunity to the international human rights system led by the UN. In doing so, it considers how China is changing in terms of its approach to the rule of law, democracy and human rights and why it needs to become a willing and enthusiastic player within the UN system to promote and protect human rights. The author concludes that China will not pose a threat to the UN human rights agenda. One way or the other, the only way forward for China is to embrace the rule of law, and this will in turn entail respect for human rights. Thus, there is an opportunity for the UN to introduce human rights law and jurisprudence developed by the UN treaty bodies to the Chinese legal and constitutional system.

  • Subedi SP, ‘India’s New Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Treaty with Nepal: A New Trend in State Practice’, ICSID Review: foreign investment law journal, 28.2 (2013), 384-404
    DOI: 10.1093/icsidreview/sit027

    India is the largest source of foreign investment in Nepal and its largest trading partner. Owing to the internal political problems in Nepal and harassment of some Indian businesses by the Maoist rebels during the Maoist insurgency in 1996–2006, India sought to conclude a bilateral investment protection treaty with Nepal in order to ensure a higher level of protection for Indian investors in Nepal than currently existed. For its part, Nepal also realized that such a treaty would instil confidence in Indian businesses and thus encourage more to invest in Nepal. With this mutuality of interests in mind, India and Nepal signed a new Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement in 2011. Many of its provisions represent a new trend in State practice with regard to the conclusion of bilateral investment treaties, including a flexible and innovative international mechanism for resolution of investment disputes. Therefore, the India-Nepal treaty is of significance in the evolution of international investment law. The author concludes that it would be helpful in instilling confidence in foreign investors to invest in a least-developed country with its internal political problems, and in assuring that their investment will be safe regardless of the internal politics or public posturing by politicians to win votes.

  • Subedi SP, ‘Problems and prospects for the commission on the limits of the continental shelf in dealing with submissions by coastal states in relation to the Ocean Territory beyond 200 nautical miles’, International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 26.3 (2011), 413-431
    DOI: 10.1163/157180811X567352

    As the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf established under the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea has begun its deliberations on an increasingly large number of submissions made by States seeking to establish the outer limits of their continental shelf, concerns have been expressed as to the nature and scope of the work of the Commission, as well as the challenges currently faced by this body set up under the Convention. It is in this context that the present article aims to address questions such as: how and to whom this body is accountable; how transparent its decision-making processes are; what powers it has; whether it is sufficiently well equipped to take such far-reaching decisions, and the implications its recommendations will have for coastal States, for the law of the sea, and for the wider issues concerning the international governance of the seas and oceans. In doing so, this article suggests some ways and means of addressing the challenges facing the Commission. © 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden.

  • Subedi SP, ‘The UN Human Rights Mandate in Cambodia: The Challenges of a Country in Transition and the Experience of the UN Special Rapporteur for the Country’, The International Journal of Human Rights, 15.2 (2011), 155-161

  • Subedi SP, ‘Protecting Human Rights through the Mechanism of UN Special Rapporteurs’, Human Rights Quarterly, 33.1 (2011), 201-228


  • Subedi SP, ‘An innovative solution to an ambitious project: Dispute resolution in the 1982 convention on the law of the sea’, in Shielding Humanity: Essays in International Law in Honour of Judge Abdul G. Koroma ([n.pub.], 2015), 163-186
    DOI: 10.1163/9789004293137_013

  • Subedi SP, ‘International Investment Law’, in International Law, ed. by Evans M, 4th ed. (Oxford University Press, 2014), 727-751

  • Subedi SP, ‘Human rights experts in the united nations: A review of the role of united nations special procedures’, in The Role of 'Experts' in International and European Decision-Making Processes: Advisors, Decision Makers Or Irrelevant Actors? ([n.pub.], 2014), 241-262
    DOI: 10.1007/9781139871365.016

    © Cambridge University Press 2014.In the realm of human rights, the use of experts is widespread, especially within the United Nations (UN) system of human rights. This practice is probably due to what Christopher McCrudden has described as: ‘The inevitably compromised, often ambiguous, usually open-ended nature of the legal texts advancing human rights [which] are the site of debates at the international, regional and national levels over their meaning and implications.’1 His chapter on mainstreaming human rights was partly based on the concept of epistemic community, as defined and developed by Haas.2 According to McCrudden:

  • Subedi SP, ‘Post-conflict Constitutional Settlement in Nepal and the Role of the United Nations’, in The Dynamics of Constitutionalism in the Age of Globalisation, ed. by Frishman M (Asser Press, 2010), 71-87

  • Subedi SP, ‘WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism as a New Technique for Settling Disputes in International Law’, in International Law and Dispute Settlement: New Problems and Techniques, ed. by French D, Saul M and White N (Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing, 2010), 173-190

  • Subedi SP, ‘The Challenge to the National Security of Nepal and the Role of International Law and Foreign Policy’, in Emerging Security Challenges of Nepal (Kathmandu, Nepal: Nepal Institute for Policy Studies, 2010), 65-110

Media Contact Areas

I am happy to speak to the press on any issues within international law and especially on:

  • International law of trade and investment
  • International criminal law and human rights law
  • The law of the sea, including land and maritime boundary disputes between states
  • International river/watercourses law.

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