Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Areas of expertise

International Human Rights Law  /  Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  /  Extraterritoriality  /  Right to Food  /  Food Sustainability  /  Right of Peasants  /  Non-Discrimination  /  UN Human Rights Mechanisms  /  Access to Justice  /  Human Rights and Development

Christophe Golay is Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Geneva Academy.

He is also an external member of the Council of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Ethics and Human Rights at the University of Fribourg. In 2013 he was Visiting Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

His expertise and publications relate to economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), the right to food, access to justice for victims of human rights violations, human rights and development, the rights of peasants, the legal framework of humanitarian action, and the work of UN special procedures and treaty bodies.

Dr Golay is supervising the legal dimension of two research projects on the right to food in Bolivia, Cambodia, Ghana and Kenya, jointly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Since 2009 Dr Golay has been providing legal advice to a number of stakeholders in relation to the development of a UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. From 2001 to 2008 he was Legal Adviser to the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and undertook missions with the UN in Brazil, Guatemala, Bolivia, Cuba, Niger, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In that capacity, he participated in the definition of the right to food in international law and published two books, including his PhD dissertation, on the right to food and access to justice.

Dr Golay holds a PhD in International Relations (with a specialization in International Law) and a double Master’s in International Law and International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

Taught Courses and Research Projects

Wheat field Project

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and the Protection of the Right to Seeds in Europe

The project will notably identify, via the publication of a guide, expert workshops and the participation of key European partners in the negotiations of the UN Declaration, the main opportunities and obstacles to protect the right to seeds in Europe. It will also discuss how to promote changes in European laws, policies and trade agreements to ensure that they do not infringe, but facilitate the realization of peasants’ right to seeds.

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Senegal, Ziguinchor area, Bignona Department, Kataba 1 municipality, Kouram village. A woman works in a vegetable garden as part of an economic security programme. Project

Towards Food Sustainability: Reshaping the Coexistence of Different Food Systems in South America and Africa

This six-year project aims to provide evidence-based knowledge for the formulation and promotion of innovative strategies and policy options that improve food sustainability.

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Somalia, Bakool region, Hudur village. Woman selling products at market. Project

Land Commercialization, Gendered Agrarian Transformation and the Right to Food (DEMETER)

This project examines the relationship between the right to food and gender equality in ensuring food security in the context of land commercialization in two case-study countries, Cambodia and Ghana.

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Madagascar, Miarinarivo district. Women transplanting rice. Project

The Rights of Peasants

This project aims to support efforts to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of peasants, and in particular to provide expert support to the negotiations taking place at the Human Rights Council.

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Rwanda, on the outskirts of Kigali, Wa-Jali. Jeanne Françoise, a young girl reunited two years ago with her grandmother by the ICRC, stands in a banana orchard near her house. Project

Development and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

This project aims to raise awareness about the complementarity of human rights and development by analyzing the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights and global development goals, namely the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

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North Kivu province, Goma, Kivu lake. Residents congregate at the shore of the lake to fetch water to take home. LLM - Course

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

This course provides an introduction to the protection of ESCR and places particular emphasis on the role played by UN monitoring mechanisms. It explores  the challenges that may arise when measures are taken to protect ESCR before, during and after armed conflict.

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Peru, Ayacucho region, community of Putis. Families during the funeral of the Putis victims. Master in transitional justice - Course

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Transformative Contexts

This course examines the complex relationship between economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and transitional justice from a socio-legal perspective, with an emphasis on the implementation and monitoring of ESCR in transitional settings.

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Young boy in a slum Training

Formation en ligne sur les Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels

Cette formation en ligne permet d’acquérir une connaissance approfondie des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels (DESC), des obligations des états et des mécanismes chargés de les protéger et de surveiller leur mise en œuvre.

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Syria, Aleppo. The build-up of waste is a serious health risk Training

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals

This training course explores the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and provides participants with practical tools to include ESCR and the SDGs in their work.

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Cover of the Briefing

Briefing No°11: No One will be Left Behind - The Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Monitoring the SDGs that Seek to Realize ESCR

January 2018

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover of the book Large-Scale Land Acquisitions. Focus on South-East Asia

Large-Scale Land Acquisitions - Focus on South-East Asia

October 2015

Christophe Golay, Christophe Gironde, Peter Messerli

Brill Nijhoff

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Cover of the book Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in International Law. Contemporary Issues and Challenges

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in International Law. Contemporary Issues and Challenges

March 2014

Christophe Golay, Gilles Giacca, Eibe Riedel

Oxford University Press

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Cover of the book The Fight for the Right to Food

The Fight for the Right to Food: Lessons Learned

October 2011

Christophe Golay, Jean Ziegler, Claire Mahon

Palgrave Macmillan

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