In an accomplishment demonstrating the research excellence and global impact of Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) academic faculty, a professor at the university’s College of Law has been appointed a member of the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
Professor Damilola Olawuyi, an Associate Dean and UNESCO Chairholder on Environmental Law and Sustainable Development at the College of Law, has begun a six-year mandate as Africa’s representative on this prestigious body, a position most recently occupied by the Former Attorney General of Kenya, Mr. Githu Muigai.
The appointment was made at the recently concluded 50th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council. Established in 2011 through UN Resolution 17/4, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (also referred to as the Working Group on Business and Human Rights) comprises five accomplished independent experts drawn from different world regions. The expert body has a mandate to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) through country visits, capacity building, and dialogue with stakeholders in business and economic sectors.
As a member of the UN Working Group, Professor Olawuyi’s multifaceted role will be to develop legal innovations and strategies to address human rights impacts of business operations and activities, with an emphasis on the legal dimension of sustainable development. A Harvard and Oxford-trained scholar, Professor Olawuyi is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and author of the new book, Environmental Law in Arab States (Oxford University Press 2022), with recognized expertise in petroleum law, energy, and international environmental law. He is global Vice Chair of the International Law Association and member of the International Bar Association’s academic advisory group on energy, environment and natural resources.
Recognizing the importance of Professor Olawuyi’s appointment, College of Law Dean Susan L. Karamanian said: “Given his expertise in natural resources law and public international law, and his previous experience as a lawyer representing business entities, Professor Olawuyi is a perfect fit to serve on the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. In 2016, he authored the path-breaking book, The Human Rights Based Approach to Carbon Finance (Cambridge University Press 2016). Further, in recent years, he has examined the complex relationship between human rights and environmental law and has done so in the context of two geographical areas not typically studied, Africa and the Middle East. His service on the UN Working Group reflects his appreciation of the influential role of business enterprises in fulfilling the promises of human rights treaties, which aligns with the College of Law’s creative approach to problem-solving.”
Professor Olawuyi said: “It is a great honor to be appointed by the United Nations to serve on this important working group. The obligations of business enterprises to respect, protect and fulfill fundamental human rights across their entire business operations and value chain has become a crucial aspect of international law. Our working group has the key mandate of assisting business enterprises in implementing this requirement, while also working with countries to develop national legislation and safeguards to hold defaulting entities to account. I look forward to supporting stakeholders across the world in advancing this important task.”
The College of Law offers a wide range of programs on international law. Through its Juris Doctor program, LL.M. in International Economic and Business Law, LL.M. in International Law and Foreign Affairs, and Doctor of Juridical Science degree, as well as the Certificate Program “Law in Practice in Qatar”, students have exceptional opportunities to acquire comparative legal skills and knowledge on the rudiments of business, human rights and international law and their practical applications in key economic sectors.