Human rights and international law expert Professor Hilary Charlesworth, says that Australia's appointment to the UN Human Rights Council gives the country an opportunity to examine its own human rights record.
University of Melbourne Chancellor Allan Myers said Professor Davis had twice extended his contract but had decided it was time to return to scholarship and teaching.
“Professor Davis has helped make this university not just the finest in Australia but also one of the finest in the world,” Mr Myers said.
“We are grateful to Professor Davis for his leadership, vision and relentless desire to advance the interests of the university and to serve the wider Australian community.”
Professor Davis took up the role of Vice-Chancellor in January 2005.
He has overseen the design and introduction of the successful Melbourne Curriculum model, steered the university through the largest building program in the history of the institution and led the Campaign for the University of Melbourne which has so far raised more than $640m in philanthropic funds for the institution.
Professor Davis said a number of key strategic goals had been realised, which meant it was time to think about leadership for the next part of the journey.
“There is a huge amount to do this year – hard work toward a range of pressing goals, along with ensuring a smooth and professional transition to new leadership by the end of 2018,” he said.
“For me, a change in role will allow a welcome return to scholarship and teaching, a chance to complete long-standing research projects and to begin some new writing.
“The University of Melbourne has been the still centre of my turning world for a long time now. I treasure my 12 years at this extraordinary place and look forward to the times still ahead.”