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Tomoya Obokata



Professor Tomoya Obokata
BA (Southern California), MA (Essex), LLM (Sussex), PhD(Nottingham)


I joined York Law School in September 2022 as Professor of International Human Rights Law. I previously taught at Keele University, Queen’s University Belfast and University of Dundee.

I hold BA in International Relations (University of Southern California), MA in Theory and Practice of Human Rights (University of Essex), LLM in International Criminal Law (University of Sussex), and PhD in Law (University of Nottingham). 

I am an expert on transnational organised crime and modern slavery and have a number of publications in these areas. In the past I worked as an independent expert for entities including the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the International Organisation for Migration, the European Union, and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. 

Currently I serve as Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms Slavery for the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. In this role, I produce thematic reports to the Council and the United Nations General Assembly, conduct country visits, respond to allegations of human rights violations and engage with a number of stakeholders formally and informally with a view to enhancing responses to contemporary forms of slavery globally.



My main research interests are International Human Rights Law, International/Transnational Criminal Law & Justice, and Refugee/Migration Law.

Within these broad areas, my focus has been on transnational organised crime generally, and modern slavery in particular. I am interested in how international standards relating to these crimes are implemented in practice at the national level. I regularly conduct evidence-based research on State practice in responding to these crimes, often from a comparative perspective. My role as the UN Special Rapporteur also has allowed me to explore issues such as the impact of COVID-19, the role of organised criminal group, and victimisation of vulnerable groups such as displaced persons and minorities in modern slavery.    

I also have experience in funded research, recently leading a project exploring good practice in addressing modern slavery during the COVID-19 pandemic as the Principal Investigator (funded by AHRC/Modern Slavery PEC). Previously I led a large AHRC project on the action against transnational organised crime in the island of Ireland (2012-2014). I am part of the AHRC Peer Review College and regularly review funding applications for other entities such as ESRC and the European Union. 


Selected publications

  • The Nexus between Terrorism and Organised Crime in Northern Ireland’   in Letizia Paoli, Cyrille Fijnaut, and Jan Wouters (eds.), Nexus between Terrorism and Organised Crime (Edward Elgar 2022), 239-257
  • ‘Human Trafficking in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges for the African Court of Justice and Human Rights’ in Kamari Clarke, Charles Jalloh and Vincent Nmehielle (eds.), The African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights in Context: Development and Challenges (CUP 2019), 529-552 
  • ‘Combating Transnational Organised Crime through International Human Rights Law’ (2019) 8 International Human Rights Law Review 1-38
  • ‘The Value of International Law in Combating Organised Crime in Asia-Pacific’ (2017) 7 Asian Journal of International Law 39-60
  • Transnational Organised Crime: A Comparative Analysis (Routledge 2016)

Contact details

Professor Tomoya Obokata
York Law School

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 5802