Deval Desai is an SJD Candidate at Harvard Law School, focusing on the rule of law, development, and corporate accountability. At HRP, he will be studying the role that human rights-based process and outcome norms might play in the design and effectiveness of multi-stakeholder initiatives that regulate corporate behavior. He will also explore whether and how the use of those norms might foster or combat the strategic instrumentalization of those initiatives by powerful stakeholders; the relationship between instrumentalization and cynicism or disenchantment with corporate accountability on the part of impacted communities; and the resultant possibilities for new institutional design that works to further the rights of those communities.
Deval serves on the board of MSI Integrity, a non-profit which researches the impact and value of voluntary initiatives that address business and human rights, and worked as an attorney on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Corp. before the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 2009 he has also worked for the World Bank as a rule of law reform expert in Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Uganda; as well as advising the UN High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Development Goals on rule of law issues. He has published widely on law, development, and corporations, and taught at Harvard, Manchester, SOAS, and Northeastern. He is Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard’s Institute of Global Law and Policy, Research Associate at the Overseas Development Institute, a lifetime Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a member of the UN roster of experts on the rule of law. He holds an MA from Oxford, an LL.M. from Harvard and is a member of the Bar of England and Wales.