Sumudu Atapattu

Credentials: LL.M., Ph.D.

Position title: Director of Research Centers and Senior Lecturer at UW Law School


Room 6218, Law School

Sumudu Anopama Atapattu is the Director of Research Centers and Senior Lecturer at UW Law School. She teaches in the area of International Environmental Law and Climate Change and Human Rights. She holds an LL.M. (Public International Law) and a Ph.D. (International Environmental Law) from the University of Cambridge, U.K., and is an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.  Her books include: “Human Rights Approaches to Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities” (2015, Routledge, U.K); “International Environmental Law and the Global South” (2015, Cambridge University Press) (co-editor); and “Emerging Principles of International Environmental Law” (2006, Transnational Publishers, New York). She is affiliated with UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Center for South Asia, and the 4W Initiative and was a visiting professor at Doshisha University Law School, Japan, in summer 2014 and Giessen University, Germany in summer 2016. She is also the Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at UW-Madison.

Ms. Atapattu has received numerous awards and scholarships for academic excellence, including a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust scholarship and a Benefactor Studentship awarded by St. John’s College, Cambridge. In 1986 she was awarded the best student prize and Sir Lalitha Rajapakse Memorial Prize by the Sri Lanka Law College, Colombo where she graduated at the top of her class. In 2000 she was awarded a Senior Fulbright scholarship and carried out research on “Environmental Rights and Human Rights” at the New York University Law School and the George Washington University Law School as a visiting scholar. From 2002-2006 she was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Legal Studies at UW Law School and was part of the adjunct faculty during that time.

From August 1995 to January 2002, Ms. Atapattu worked as an Associate Professor (equivalent) at the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she taught Environmental Law and Public International Law and was instrumental in introducing a course on environmental law to the law curriculum. She also taught International Organizations for the LL.M. degree and the Public International Law component of the M.A. in International Relations course, both at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Ms. Atapattu also worked as a Senior Research Consultant to the Law & Society Trust, a human rights non-governmental organization in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She was the editor of Sri Lanka: State of Human Rights 2002, an annual publication on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. She serves as the Lead Counsel for Human Rights at the Center for International Sustainable Development Law based in Montreal, Canada, and is on the advisory board of the McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy.

Ms. Atapattu has worked on several projects as an independent consultant, attended several experts consultations and human rights and the environment organized by the UN, and taught a blended learning course on human rights and the environment for human rights officials in Southeast Asia as affiliated faculty of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights, Sweden. In 2001 she served on a panel of experts on liability and compensation issues for the World Health Organization’s proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. She has many publications in the fields of international environmental law, environmental rights, and international sustainable development law and is particularly interested in the link between human rights and the environment, especially, climate change.

Affiliations: The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison School of Law, and the UW-Madison Center for South Asia