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School of Law

Professor Phoebe Okowa, LLB (Nairobi) BCL (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon), Advocate (High Court of Kenya)


Professor of Public International Law

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 3961
Room Number: Mile End


Phoebe Okowa is Professor of Public International Law and Director of Graduate Studies at Queen Mary University of London.

She previously taught Public International law, Constitutional Law and Private International Law as a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of Bristol. She has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Lille, Helsinki Stockholm and WZB Berlin Social Science Center for Global Constitutionalism and has lectured for the United Nations at its Regional Course on International Law for Africa. In 2011 and 2015 she was Hauser Global Visiting Professor of Law at New York University, School of Law. An advocate of the High Court of Kenya, she has acted as counsel and consultant to governments and non-governmental organisations on questions of international law before domestic and international courts including the International Court of Justice. In 2017 she was nominated as an arbiter to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague.

Phoebe Okowa graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelor of Law (LLB) with First Class Honours from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She proceeded to the University of Oxford on a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholarship, obtaining the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL). She completed her doctoral thesis (D.Phil) at Oxford under the supervision of the Chichele Professor of International Law (Ian Brownlie QC), Her monograph on State Responsibility for Transboundary Air Pollution published by Oxford University Press remains the definitive work on the legal challenges that environmental harm presents for traditional methods of accountability in International Law. She has also co-edited Environmental Law and Justice in Context (With Jonas Ebbesson CUP 2009). Her work on the Admissibility of claims in International Adjudication has been cited with approval numerous times by domestic Courts considering questions of International Law. She is on the International Advisory Board of the Stockholm Centre for International Law and the Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S).

Professor Okowa has generalist interests in international law. She has written on a wide range of contemporary international law topics including the interface between state responsibility and individual accountability for international crimes, unilateral and collective responses to protection of natural resources in conflict zones and aspects of the protection of the environment. She serves as Editor of the series Foundations of Public International Law (with Malcolm Evans, Oxford University Press) and is on the editorial board of the African Journal of International and Comparative law and was for 10 years on the editorial board of the International Community Law Review. Her articles have been published in the African Journal of International and Comparative Law; British Yearbook of International Law; International and Comparative Law Quarterly and Current Legal Problems among others. Her current research explores the systemic problems of accountability involved in the use and exploitation of natural resources in conflict zones. It focuses on those conflicts where coherent and well-organized insurgencies present a credible challenge to governmental power and the state-centric structures of authority in international law. An offshoot of this project examines concession contracts in peace agreements and will be published in the Research Handbook on International Law and Environmental Peace Building (Edward Elgar 2021).

Undergraduate Teaching

  • LAW6032 Public International Law

Postgraduate Teaching


Dr Okowa’s research interests are primarily in the field of Public International Law, especially International Environmental Law, Use of Force, and State Responsibility.


Selected Publications


Key Articles and Essays

  • Phoebe Okowa and Malcolm Evans, ‘Approaches to Responsibility in International Courts’ in The International Responsibility of the European Union, (March 2013)
  • Phoebe Okowa, 'Sovereignty Contests and the Exploitation of Natural Resources in Conflict Zones', in Current Legal Problems (2013)
  • Phoebe Okowa, State and Individual criminal Responsibility in Internal Conflicts: Contours of an Evolving Relationship, 20 (2009) Finnish Yearbook of International Law  p. 143-188
  • The International Court of Justice and the Georgia Russia Dispute, 2011 Human Rights Law Review, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp. 739-757
  • Case Concerning Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea V. Democratic Republic of Congo),  2008 International and Comparative Law Quarterly,  Vol. 57, No. 1. pp. 219
  • Phoebe Okowa, Natural Resources in Situations of Armed Conflict: Is there a Coherent Framework for Protection? 9 (2007)  International Community Law Review, January 237
  • Phoebe Okowa, Congo’s War: The Legal Dimension of a Protracted Conflict, 2006, British Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 77 , 203
  • Phoebe Okowa, Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, International and Comparative Law Quarterly 2006, Vol. 55, pp. 742
  • Phoebe N. Okowa, ‘Case Concerning the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary / Slovakia)”, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 1998, Vol. 47, 688
  • Phoebe N. Okowa, Procedural Obligations in International Environmental Agreements” 1996, British Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 67, p. 275
  • Phoebe Okowa, ‘Legal Consequences of EC Participation in International Environmental Agreements’ in M. D. Evans (ed.) Aspects of Statehood and Institutionalism in Contemporary Europe (Dartmouth Press, Aldershot, 1997), pp. 301
  • Phoebe N. Okowa,  ‘The EC and International Environmental Agreements,’ Yearbook of European Law, 1995, Vol. 15,  pp. 169
  • Ojwang’, J.B and Phoebe N. Okowa,  ‘The One Party State and Due Process of Law: The Kenyan Position in a Comparative Framework’, African Journal of International and Comparative Law, 1989,  Vol. 1, pp. 177-205

Book Chapters


Dr Okowa welcomes proposals for postgraduate supervision on most aspects of public international law especially, armed conflict, state responsibility and international environmental law.

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