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School of Law

Queen Mary Professor elected to UN International Law Commission

Professor Phoebe Okowa has been successfully elected to the International Law Commission, following her nomination by the Government of Kenya earlier this year. She was also jointly nominated by the Government of the United Kingdom. She obtained 162 votes in the General Assembly.

Professor Phoebe Okowa standing in a library

The International Law Commission is the United Nations expert body, established by the UN General Assembly, in 1947. The body is responsible for helping to develop and codify international law. It is composed of 34 members who are voted onto the Commission by UN member states to serve 5-year terms. Under the Statute, the members elected “shall be persons of recognised competence in international law”.

Professor Okowa is the first African woman and the first black woman to be elected, and one of few women in total. Since 1947, the Commission has had a total of 229 Members and only seven of the elected members have been women. Her term with the Commission officially begins on 1 January 2023 and will run until 2027.

Professor Phoebe Okowa, Professor of Public International Law at Queen Mary’s School of Law said: “I am pleased beyond words and both honoured and humbled in equal measure to have been elected today to the United Nations International Law Commission. This is by any standards an outstanding mandate.

“I look forward to working with the other members of the commission and those on the sixth committee as the commission continues its vital work in responding to the defining challenges of our generation.”

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