Fons Coomans was born in The Hague (The Netherlands) in 1956.He studied political science, especially international relations and international law at the University of Amsterdam. In 1992 he obtained a PhD degree from Maastricht University. His PhD thesis was about the international protection of the right to education as a human right, and was supervised by Prof. van Boven and Prof. Flinterman.
He has been employed by Maastricht University since 1985. Currently he holds the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Peace at the Department of International and European Law at Maastricht University. He teaches international human rights law, methods of human rights research and international development law at the School of Law.
He is the Director of the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights, and Senior Researcher at the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research. His fields of research include the international protection of economic, social and cultural rights in a globalized society and the right to education, health and food in particular, as well as international monitoring mechanisms in the field of human rights. In addition, he has a special interest in the extraterritorial reach of human rights law. From 1997-2013 he acted as coordinator of the courses on economic, social and cultural rights of the European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice (Italy). From 2010-2012 he was involved in revising the curriculum of the Faculty of Law of Udayama University in Denpasar (Bali – Indonesia). He has also taught at the universities of Utrecht, Sarajevo, Pretoria, Lund, Galway, Denpasar, Cape Town, Fort Hare, Venda and Bandung. He has worked as a consultant for UNESCO, an adviser for FIAN (Food First Information and Action Network) and is currently an advisor to The Right to Education Project (www.right-to-education.org).
He is a member of the Netherlands Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM). From 2007 to 2011 he was involved in a process of drafting guidelines for the extraterritorial obligations of states in the area of social, economic, and cultural rights which resulted in the adoption of the Maastricht Principles on the Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Sept. 2011). He was a co-founder of the Consortium on Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations (www.etoconsortium.org). In 2013 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He has supervised and is currently supervising PhD-research projects on various dimensions of economic, social and cultural rights protection.