CEU alumnus Uchenna Emelonye was appointed Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda on May 1, the latest step in a career dedicated to the creation of open societies and the rule of law in Africa. His studies at CEU, where he earned a Master of Laws in Human Rights in 2004, remain relevant and useful, Emelonye said.
“CEU equipped me with comprehensive knowledge in human rights law and practice,” Emelonye said. “My skills and professional network benefited greatly from the time I spent at CEU, and helped the progress of my career as a human rights expert.” He previously worked as Senior Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) in Kenya. In his new position, he is responsible for devising the strategies of the OHCHR Uganda country office.
Emelonye’s commitment to human rights stems from his “harrowing experiences as a child born into the Biafra side of the Nigerian civil war,” he said. Throughout his career, he has worked to protect human rights, promote good governance and the rule of law in post-conflict and transition countries. His goal is to “contribute to the protection of human dignity in a palpable way.”
Emelonye has two decades of experience as a human rights attorney.. Previously, he was Head of Governance, Institutional and Justice Reform Division of the International Development Law Organization, IDLO-Rome. He oversaw the organization’s global work on legal, judicial and institutional reforms in post-conflict and transition countries. He assisted the drafting processes of the bill of rights and rule of law chapters of the constitutions of Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia.
In his other positions at human rights organizations, Emelonye worked in Darfur, Kosovo, Belgium, New York and his home country, Nigeria. Amongst several peer-reviewed articles to his credit, he has authored and contributed chapters to eight books.
In addition to his CEU degree, Emelonye holds a doctorate in Laws from the University of Helsinki, and a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in law from Abia State University, Nigeria.