Ralph Zacklin
Senior Advisor

Ralph is an expert in international law and multilateral legal affairs. He is the former United Nations assistant secretary-general for legal affairs, and worked as an international lawyer at the UN for almost 30 years. 

He began his career in 1967 as director of the international law programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, before joining the UN in 1973. There, he worked closely with Secretaries-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan.

He served in a number of roles, including officer-in-charge and acting deputy high commissioner at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, and director and deputy to the UN under-secretary general for legal affairs, where he was primarily responsible for the legal aspects of peacekeeping and good offices missions.

Ralph has acted as independent counsel on various international panels and commissions, including as a member of the UN independent special commission of inquiry for Timor Leste and  chairman of the independent panel on accountability related to the attack on UN premises in Algiers 2007.

He has lectured globally on international law at institutions including The Hague Academy of International Law, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Cambridge University. He was a professor at the Institute of International Public Law and International Relations in Thessaloniki, Greece and senior fellow of the Faculty of Law of the University of Melbourne.

Ralph has published books and articles on questions of international law and the law of international institutions, including The Amendment of the Constitutive Instruments of the United Nations (1968) and The United Nations Secretariat and the Use of Force in a Unipolar World: Power v. Principle (2010).

Ralph holds an LLB (Honours) from University College London, an LLM from Columbia Law School and a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.