Balakrishnan Rajagopal

Associate Professor of Law and Development

Balakrishnan Rajagopal is Associate Professor of Law and Development at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. He founded the Program on Human Rights and Justice at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the Displacement Research and Action Network.  He is recognized as a leading participant in the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) Network of scholars and is one of its founders, and is recognized as a leading global commentator on issues concerning the global South.  He is currently a Counselor to the American Society of International Law and has been a member of the Executive Council and Executive Committee of the Society.   He is a Faculty Associate at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation and has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC, the Madras Institute of Development Studies and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, the Institute for Advanced Studies at Stellenbosch University and Hebrew University and a Visiting Professor at the UN University for Peace, University of Melbourne Law School and the Washington College of Law, the American University. 

He received an interdisciplinary doctorate in law (SJD) from Harvard Law School and he also holds a first law degree from India.  He served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and received Cambodia’s highest Royal Award for foreign nationals from the King of Cambodia.  He was the human rights advisor to the World Commission on Dams and has consulted with UNDP, other UN agencies and international organizations and leading NGOs on human rights and international legal issues.  He has published numerous scholarly articles in leading law journals and is the author of International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), and editor of Reshaping Justice: International Law and the Third World (co-editor, Routledge, 2008) and Property Rights from Below (co-editor, Routledge, 2019) and Critical Issues in Human Rights and Development (Edward Elgar, 2021). His work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and French.  He has also published widely in the media including the Boston Globe, the Hindu, the Wire, Washington Post, El Universal, and the Nation, and at