Alfred-Maurice de Zayas (born 31 May 1947 in Havana, Cuba; né Alfredo (de) Zayas), also known as Alfred de Zayas, is an American lawyer, writer, historian, a leading expert in the field of human rights and international law, a retired high-ranking United Nations official, a peace activist, and since 2012 the United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order (also known as Special Rapporteur), appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is currently a professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, and formerly worked with the United Nations from 1981 to 2003 as a senior lawyer with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary of the Human Rights Committee, and the Chief of Petitions. He practised law in New York as an associate in the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett from 1970 to 1974, specializing on corporate law, and is also a retired member of the Florida Bar.
Alfred de Zayas' scholarly work focuses on the judicial protection of peoples and minorities. He holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a doctorate in modern history from the University of Göttingen. De Zayas has written and lectured extensively on human rights, including the jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust the US-run detention centers at Guantanamo Bay, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, the expulsion of Eastern European Germans after the Second World War, the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974, the rights of minorities, and the rights of indigenous peoples. He is an advocate of "the right to homeland" as a universal human right, of the human right to peace, of the establishment of a World Court on Human Rights, and has been active on behalf of the Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
Since his retirement from the UN in 2003, de Zayas has become a vocal critic of the Iraq War, indefinite detention in Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons, nuclear pollution, and extreme poverty. He has chastised the United States, Great Britain, and Germany for their lack of intellectual honesty and their lip service to human rights. A resident of Geneva, Switzerland, he is the former President of the Suisse Romand Centre of International PEN and the United Nations Society of Writers.