Described by a leading African newsweekly as “a leading member of the new generation of African legal minds” by Oxford University’s Ike Okonta as “one of Africa’s leading human rights lawyers”, Chidi Anselm Odinkalu heads the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative and is the immediate past chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.
Admitted to the Nigerian Bar in November 1988, Odinkalu received his Ph.D. in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); his Masters Degree in la from the University of Lagos and his first degree also in Law from the then Imo State University, percusssor of today’s Abia State University.
Following the annulment of the June 12 1993 presidential elections in Nigeria, Odinkalu, a principal mover in the civil society response to the annulment as the then legal Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), was exiled to the United Kingdom where he pioneered the Africa and Middle East Programme of the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, INTERIGHTS.
The author of four books and over 60 other scholarly articles, Odinkalu is widely known as an authority on international law, including human rights, international institutional law and international economic laws affecting African countries. He is a visiting Professor of law at the International Criminal Law Centre at the Open University of Tanzania, and was formerly Jeremiah Smith Jr. visiting Professor of Laws at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge Massachusetts and Brandeis International Fellow at the International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at the Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.