Surya is a leading international lawyer whose expertise covers a number of areas of international law, including international trade and investment law, international land and maritime boundary disputes, international watercourses law, and human rights law.
Surya has acted as a counsel in cases before the international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and before the courts in England.
Surya has advised a number of governments and public utility companies on international legal matters. In 2020, he was appointed by the Government of Nepal a member of the Expert Group on India-Nepal boundary issues.
He has published extensively in all major areas of international law. He is the author of a major book entitled ‘International Investment Law: Reconciling Policy and Principle’ published by Hart Publishing, Oxford. First published in 2008, it is now in its 4th edition.
Many of the pioneering ideas that were advanced in the first edition of this book in 2008 have been taken up by governments and international organisations in their attempts to reform the investor-State dispute settlement mechanism and strike a balance between different competing principles such as human rights and environmental protection in developing international investment law.
It has been translated into foreign languages, including Chinese and Farsi, and published in several countries.
Surya was awarded the highest degree, the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL), by the University of Oxford in 2019 in recognition of his contribution to international law and human rights. The judges of the award panel at Oxford described him “as a scholar of uncommon breadth of knowledge and depth of thinking in international law” when deciding to award him the DCL. Prior to this, he had obtained a DPhil (PhD) in international law at Oxford with a prize in 1993.
He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) (Hon) in 2017 in recognition of his contribution to international law and human rights and made an OBE for services to international law in 2004.
Surya has been Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds since 2004. He also is a visiting professor on the Master’s programme on international human rights law at the University of Oxford.
He served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia between 2009 and 2015 and as a human rights advisor to the British Foreign Secretary between 2010 and 2015.
He was elected to the Institut de Droit International in 2011 and made a Membre Titulaire in 2015.
Surya has been an expert member of the Task Force on Investment Policy of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The following are some examples of cases in which Surya has acted as a counsel:
- Axiata Investments (UK) Limited and Ncell Private Limited v. The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal – Arbitration under the Rules of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID CASE NO. ARB/19/15).
- Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates) before the International Court of Justice.
- Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates v. Qatar) before the International Court of Justice.
- Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council under Article II, Section 2 of the 1944 International Air Services Transit Agreement (Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates v. Qatar) before the International Court of Justice.
- R v. Colonel Kumar Lama  EWCA Crim 1729 – Represented Colonel Kumar Lama in this case who was tried under universal jurisdiction in the UK. His case was dismissed.
- Appointed by the Government of Nepal a member of the Expert Group on India-Nepal boundary issues.
- LLB, Tribhuvan University
- LLM with Distinction, University of Hull
- DPhil in International Law, University of Oxford
Hindi and Nepali
- Elected to the Institut de Droit International in 2011.
- Chairman, Board of Editors, Asian Journal of International Law (Cambridge University Press).
- Chairman, Research Committee, the Asian Society of International Law.
- Member of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).
- Committee Member, Committee on International Law on Sustainable Development of the International Law Association (ILA), 2002-2012.
- Committee Member, Water Resources Law Committee of the International Law Association (ILA), 1999-2004.
- Member, Task Force on Investment Policy, World Economic Forum in Davos and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development in Geneva, 2015.
- Principal Publications
International Investment Law
- International Investment Law: Reconciling Policy and Principle (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 1st edition in 2008; 2nd edition in 2012; and 3rd edition in 2016).
- ‘International Investment Law’, in Malcolm Evans (ed.), International Law (Oxford University Press, 4th edition, 2014), pp.727-751.
- ‘India’s New Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Treaty with Nepal: A New Trend in State Practice’ ICSID Review: Foreign Investment Law Journal_ (Oxford University Press), Vol. 28 (2), Fall, 2013, pp.384-404.
- ‘The Challenge of Reconciling the Competing Principles within the Law of Foreign Investment with Special Reference to the Recent Trend in the Interpretation of the Term “Expropriation” International Lawyer (A journal of the American Bar Association’s International Law Section); Spring 2006; Vol. 40 (1), pp.121-141.
- ‘WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism as a New Technique for Settling Disputes in International Law’, in Duncan French, Matthew Saul and Nigel D. White (eds.), International Law and Dispute Settlement: New Problems and Techniques (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2010), pp.173-190.
- ‘The Notion of Free Trade and the First Ten Years of the World Trade Organization: How Level is the “Level Playing Field”?’ Vol. 53 (2) The Netherlands International Law Review (Autumn 2006), pp.273-296.
- ‘The Road from Doha: The Issues for the Development Round of the WTO and the Future of International Trade’, 52 (2) International and Comparative Law Quarterly (April 2003), pp.425-446.
The Law of the Sea
- ‘An Innovative Solution to an Ambitious Project: Dispute Resolution in the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea’, in Charles C. Jalloh and Olufemi Elias (eds.), Shielding Humanity: Essays in International Law in Honour of Judge Abdul G. Koroma (Martinus Nijhoff/Brill, The Hague, 2015), pp.163-186.
- ‘Problems and Prospects for the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in Dealing with Submissions by Coastal States in Relation to the Ocean Territory Beyond 200 Nautical Miles’, 26 The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers,, The Hague, 2011), pp.413–431.
- Land and Maritime Zones of Peace in International Law (1996), Oxford Monographs in International Law Series, Clarendon: Oxford University Press, Oxford.
International Watercourses Law
- International Watercourses Law for the 21st Century: The Case of the River Ganges Basin. (Ashgate Publishing, UK, 2005).
- ‘The Legal Regime Concerning the Utilization of the Water Resources of the River Ganges Basin’, 46 German Yearbook of International Law (2004), pp.452-493.
- ‘Hydro-diplomacy in South Asia: The Conclusion of the Ganges and the Mahakali River Treaties’, 93 (4) American Journal of International Law (October, 1999), pp.631-640.
- ‘Resolution of International Water Disputes: Challenges for the 21^st Century’, in International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, _Resolution of International Water Disputes (Volume 6 in the PCA Peace Palace Papers series, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 2003), pp. 33-47.