Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Barbados, Commissioner

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, is a distinguished academic, international thought leader, United Nations committee official, and global public activist in the field of social justice and minority empowerment. He is the 8th Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Vice President of the International Task Force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project, a consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme, an advisor to the UN World Culture Report and Advisor to the Secretary General of the UN on Sustainable Development. He is also a director of Sagicor Financial Corporation PLC, the largest financial company in the region, Chairman of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), the former chairman of The University of the West Indies Press, Chairman of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice, President of Universities Caribbean, an editor of the UNESCO General History of Africa series and a Director of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre.

He has lectured extensively in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, and has published over 100 peer reviewed essays in scholarly journals, and over 13 books on subjects ranging from Atlantic and Caribbean History, gender relations in the Caribbean, sport development and popular culture.

Professor Niloufer Bhagwat

India, Commissioner

Niloufer Bhagwat is an Advocate since 1971 at the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, the Supreme Court of India, other Courts and Tribunals, and before Commissions of Inquiry. Former Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law for post graduate studies, and Administrative Law and International Law for undergraduate studies at the University of Mumbai. Vice President of the Indian Association of Lawyers and of  the Confederation of Lawyers for Asia and the Pacific region. On the panel of Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan at Tokyo,  constituted by Japanese Jurists and lawyers investigating the US political leadership for crimes of aggression, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. Participated in the International War Crimes Tribunal on Iraq, at Istanbul. President of the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Middle East at Lebanon, convened by jurists and lawyers of the Middle East, to try crimes of aggression, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity  in  Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Has published research papers and articles in international and Indian journals.

Awards :

  1. Project Censored Award for the exposure of the Depleted Uranium weapon system in the Judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal on Afghanistan, an initiative of Japanese jurists, lawyers, and civil society in Japan.
  2. Monique Weyl Award of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  3. Justice  Philip Jessup Award of the American Society of International Law

Mr. Max Boqwana

South Africa, Commissioner

Attorney and leader, President of the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association, former President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Co-Chair of the Law Society of South Africa, CEO, Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

Professor Mireille Fanon-Mendès France

France, Commissioner

Leading activist and scholar, Professor at Paris Descartes University, President of the Frantz Fanon Foundation, former Chair of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent.

Dr. Arturo Fournier Facio

Costa Rica, Commissioner

Arturo Fournier, a lawyer licensed to practice law in Costa Rica, went to law school to fight on behalf of human rights and equality for all. Dr. Fournier’s practice focused on those with limited means, including laborers and farmers who had little income to afford solid counsel, all over the country, and in particular in the Province of Limón. During this period Arturo became aware of the structural discrimination to which people of Afro-descendant origin and Indigenous populations were subject. Moreover, Dr. Fournier was a strong advocate for political freedoms and against authoritarian and dictatorial leadership, such as the situation in Nicaragua under Anastasio Somoza. Consequently Arturo was incarcerated several times for representing those persecuted by this iron fist dictator, and even in his own country, despite its democratic system. The Government of Costa Rica recognized his professional and personal achievements by appointing him in 2016 as Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation. It was no small feat trying to learn to speak Russian, which was an outstanding personal attribute that proved to be immensely important while living in Moscow.

Notwithstanding an active practice, Dr Fournier has continued to pursue his intellectual curiosity and academic achievement, resulting in having obtained several degrees in law, and publishing several papers in Law Reviews in different countries in four continents. Arturo has two law degrees from the University of Costa Rica (UCR-1974 and 1976), a degree from Central American University of Nicaragua (UCA-1974), a Ph.d in Agrarian Law by Università degli Studi, Florence, Italy (1976), Incae Business Scholl (1980), National University of Education (UNED-2002), on Mediation and Arbitration, University of International Cooperation (UCI-2005). Upon the conclusion of his diplomatic service, Dr. Fournier returned to San Jose and recently retired from his active practice of law, his lifelong passion.

Judge Peter Herbert O.B.E

United Kingdom and Kenya, Commissioner

Judge Peter Herbert O.B.E. (retired) is a leading human rights barrister and Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers. Peter qualified as a barrister in 1982. He was appointed a part-time Immigration Judge in 1996, and a part-time Employment Judge and Crown Court Judge in 2003. Peter was appointed an Independent Member of the Metropolitan Plice Authority and elected Vice-Chair. Peter has represented two defendants at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and appeared in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2010, Peter was appointed an O.B.E. for his work on equality, diversity and international human rights. He has also led three refugee missions in recent years to Sicily, Lebanon and Lampedusa Island off the Libyan coast to examine the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Based in Kenya for the last three years, he Co-Chairs the Bandung Conference and supports campaigns on land rights, Mau Mau reparations and human rights cases against British multi-nationals in Kenya and East Africa.

Ms. Hina Jilani

Pakistan, Commissioner

Hina Jilani is a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, who work together for peace, justice and human rights.

Hina Jilani is a pioneering lawyer and human rights defender. As an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, she has conducted many landmark cases setting new human rights standards in the country. She created Pakistan’s first all-women law firm and co-founded Pakistan’s first legal aid centre. She also founded its national Human Rights Commission and the Women’s Action Forum, a prominent pressure group at the heart of Pakistan’s democracy movement. She was the first Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 to 2008. Hina Jilani currently serves as President of the World Organisation Against Torture, co-chair of the World Refugee Council and co-chair of the Task Force on Justice

Professor Rashida Manjoo

South Africa, Commissioner

Rashida Manjoo is a Professor in the Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa, where she convenes the Human Rights Program. Prof Manjoo has over four decades of experience in social justice and human rights work both in South Africa and abroad. Until July 2015, she held the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, a post she was appointed to in 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Her UN work over six years has included monitoring and reporting on States’ compliance in responding to and preventing violence against women, its causes and consequences, both generally and in different country contexts. She has particularly highlighted the interaction of interpersonal, communal, institutional and structural factors that negatively impact the interdependence and indivisibility of the human rights of women; and the challenges of the normative gap in international law on the issue of violence against women.

Professor Manjoo is the former Parliamentary Commissioner of the Commission on Gender Equality, an institution created by the Constitution of South Africa, with a mandate to oversee the promotion and protection of gender equality and women’s rights. She has also been involved in social context training for judges and lawyers, where she has designed both content and methodology. She has authored several journal articles, book chapters and reports, including the most recent co-edited book ‘The Legal Protection of women from violence – normative gaps in international law’.

Professor Osamu Niikura

Japan, Commissioner

Osamu Niikura is a distinguished international human rights lawyer, Professor Emeritus of Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan and former president of Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA). He served as Secretary General in the International Lawyers Fact-Finding Mission to Okinawa and other USF facilities in Japan in 1996, as well as Japanese Lawyers Missions to the USA for Okinawa in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999. He was also presiding Judge at the International People’s Tribunal for Afghanistan in 2003. He made a Keynote Remark “Impact and Implication of Global Economic Crisis and Conflicts to Peace and Human Development in Asia-Pacific,” at the 5th Conference of Lawyers in Asia and the Pacific, Manila, 2010. He gave a speech on “Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Part of the Human Right to Peace,” at the International Conference to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Stockholm Appeal for Peace 1950-2010, Bourse du Travail, Paris, 2010.

Sir Clare K. Roberts, KCN, QC

Antigua and Barbuda, Commissioner

Sir Clare is a former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat. He was the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and Solicitor General of Antigua and Barbuda. Sir Clare was also an Independent Senator in the Senate of Antigua and Barbuda. He has acted as High Court Judge in Anguilla and Grenada. He is a Queen’s Counsel. He is the founding partner of Roberts & Co, Attorneys at Law, which he founded in Antigua and Barbuda in 1986 and is also founder of Human Rights for All, a non-profit organization which aims to promote and defend human rights in the region. Sir Clare was Human Rights Commissioner as a member of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights for 8 years and had the distinction of leading the Commission as its President. At the Commission, Sir Clare was the first Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and Against Racial Discrimination and Racism in this Hemisphere. He has spearheaded the fight by the Inter–American Commission on Human Rights against racial discrimination in the hemisphere. He has studied and reported on the situation of Afro-descendants in Brazil, Columbia, the Caribbean including Cuba, the United States and Canada.

In 2006 Sir Clare was knighted for his work in human rights, and his service to the legal profession and youth. Sir Clare has commented extensively on human rights issues in the press in Antigua and further afield. His blog is called Afro Descendants Unite.

Mr. Bert S. Samuels

Jamaica, Commissioner

Bert Samuels has practiced law in Jamaica for more than 40 years, and is currently Partner and Head of Litigation with the firm Knight, Junor & Samuels. His career began with graduation from the University of the West Indies and Norman Manley Law School, and his areas of practice have centred on Industrial Relations, and Civil and Criminal Litigation. He has sat for five years on the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council of Jamaica, and is a frequent presenter for continuing legal education seminars with that body. A passionate pan-Africanist, he continues to advocate for changes to inherited colonial laws with a view to further liberating post-slavery Jamaica. After twelve years as a member, he now serves as Deputy Chairman of the Jamaican National Council on Reparation, and leads their Legal Working Group.

In addition to his legal work, Bert is also a recognized writer and social commentator. His play, “The Trial of Governor Eyre”, placed the former British- appointed governor on trial for overseeing colonial violence and eventual mass murder in 1865, and was nominated in multiple categories for the Actor Boy Awards. He recently contributed a chapter to the upcoming publication, “Time for Reparations”, published by Harvard University, in which he outlines the strong case for Jamaica’s claim. Bert has also written extensively for Jamaica’s leading newspapers and is frequently interviewed by media houses on issues examining law, history, social justice, and reparation.

Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo

Nigeria, Commissioner

Hannibal Uwaifo is President of the African Bar Association. He was born on November 25th, 1965 in Benin-City, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B HONS) of the University of Benin, a Masters degree in Law (LL.M) of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Nigeria and attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos. He was called to the Nigeria Bar in December, 1990. Immediately after he was admitted to the Nigerian Bar, Mr. Uwaifo joined forces with a Call Mate to form a partnership for Legal Practice, Ulinfun Uwaifo & Associates from where he took a break in December, 1991 to join the Federal Ministry of Justice. He worked briefly as State Counsel, Federal Ministry of Justice, Lagos, between 1991 and 1993. He was Counsel, Senior Counsel and later head of chambers in the Law Firm of Rosemary Igweonwu and Company on the 13th Floor of the Prestigious Western House in Broad Street, Lagos between 1993 and 1996.

In September, 1996 he joined the services of the then Daily Times Group as Legal Officer and later rose to Legal Adviser before returning to the then Partnership of Ulinfun, Uwaifo and Associates in 1998 where he became the Managing Partner same year specializing in International Criminal Law, Commercial Law, Employment and Labour Law related issues. The firm was to later dissolved into Sagitarian Law Firm in 2005 where Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo is still a Senior Partner till date. Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo served as President of the defunct Independent Lawyers Association of Nigeria (ILAN) a professional interest group, championing International Criminal Law, Human Rights and Democracy. He is a very committed member of the Bar Association in Nigeria and has served in many capacities.

At the resuscitation of the African Bar Association in Dar es Salaam Tanzania in 2015, Hannibal Uwaifo was unanimously chosen as interim President and was later officially elected President at the election held on September 10th, 2016 at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Center, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to run a tenure of Five years. Aside numerous tasks and on-going interventions, Mr. Uwaifo Leading the African Bar Association has successfully intervened in crisis in several flash points across the Continent including political crisis in Zimbabwe, Gambia, Burundi, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroun, Sudan. Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’ivoire, Mali and so on. He is currently a serving Commissioner at the International Commission of Inquiry on Systematic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States.