Prof Daniel Bradlow appointed as co-chair of UN Academic Circle on the Right to Development

Posted on April 05, 2024

“This appointment is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of how to make the right to development a reality for people around the world and to promote this new understanding to policymakers in UN member states,” said UP’s Prof Daniel Bradlow about his appointment as co-chair of a United Nations body.

Professor Daniel Bradlow, a senior research fellow at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, has been appointed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development, Surya Deva, as one of two co-chairs of a new Academic Circle on the Right to Development. The circle comprises 20 scholars from around the world, who will advise the Special Rapporteur on issues relating to the right to development. 

“This appointment is a great honour,” Prof Bradlow said. “Most of my work as a researcher, a lecturer and in my professional service has been focused on promoting and operationalising aspects of sustainable development. This appointment gives me the opportunity to contribute to these efforts in a new way.

“This is also an opportunity, in collaboration with a first-rate group of colleagues from around the world, to work with a UN official to deepen our understanding of how to make the right to development a reality for people around the world and to promote this new understanding to policymakers in UN member states. I also hope that the Academic Circle will help stimulate interest in the UP community about the right to development and discussion, and what the right means to South Africa.” 

The mandate for Academic Circle members is to collaborate with the Special Rapporteur in their personal academic capacity by, among other things, conducting research, organising workshops, participating in consultations and disseminating recommendations.

“The role of the co-chairs is to organise meetings of the Academic Circle, to advise the Special Rapporteur on issues pertaining to the right to development that he should consider as topics for his annual reports,” Prof Bradlow explained. “It is also to promote research on the right to development.”

Prof Bradlow is a UP alumnus who obtained his LLD from the University in 2010. His areas of expertise include global economic governance, international financial institutions, international development finance, and human rights and international development law. His most recent book, titled The Law of International Financial Institutions, was published by Oxford University Press in 2023.

He has a long history of working within UN structures and is currently a compliance officer in the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit of the United Nations Development Programme.

“My first job out of law school in the 1980s was as a consultant for the UN Centre on Transnational Corporations, which was later absorbed into the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,” Prof Bradlow said. “My job was to research transnational corporations that were investing in strategic sectors in apartheid South Africa.”

In the 1990s, Prof Bradlow was a senior special fellow in the United Nations Institute for Training and Research programme on the legal aspects of sovereign debt management.

“In this position, I helped develop and run training programmes for government officials in Africa and Asia on legal aspects of sovereign debt,” he said. 

“I have learned a lot about how international organisations function, how influential states operate within these institutions and about the potential of the UN to promote social change, and the limits on this potential. I have also learned that change can be a slow process and that the full impacts, for example, of a UN training workshop or a research project may only become clear many years later when the participants in the workshop have been promoted to positions in which they take full advantage of the lessons learned in the workshop or the findings of the research project.

“I think, however, that the work of the Academic Circle on the right to development has the potential to have a more immediate impact because of its close relationship to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development.”

When asked about his vision for his role as co-chair and that of the Academic Circle, Prof Bradlow said: “I hope that it can help raise the profile of the right to development so that policymakers, international organisations, corporations and financial institutions start to pay more attention to it, and its implications for their work and their responsibilities.

“I also hope that the work of the circle can contribute to promoting a more constructive dialogue between these actors and civil society organisations about the right to development and how they can help make its implementation a reality around the world.” 


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