On Friday, Kenya’s nominee for the International Law Commission (ILC) made history by becoming the first African woman to be elected to the United Nations organization.
In a vote held by the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Prof Phoebe Okowa received 162 votes. Her term as a member of the ILC will be from 2023 to 2027.
The International Law Commission (ILC) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 to carry out the Assembly’s mandate under Article 13 (1) (a) of the United Nations Charter.
It is setup to initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification.
It is made up of 34 individuals that are elected every five years and are acknowledged for their competence and qualifications in international law.
“I am profoundly grateful to member states for their confidence in me. Throughout the campaign experience I have remained conscious that the ILC is a subsidiary organ of the UN that is at its costs effective working in collaboration with the sixth committee,” she said
The members of the Commission were elected by secret ballot at the 32nd meeting of the General Assembly at its seventy-sixth session. It was held on November 12, 2021, for a five-year term commencing January 1, 2023 (and ending December 31, 2027).
Ambassador Dr. Martin Kimani, the Republic of Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, spoke about her.
“An inspiring woman and an acclaimed international legal scholar”
He went on to detail her characteristics and qualifications, stating unequivocally that she was qualified for the position.
Professor Okowa has taught and conducted research in public international law for more than 25 years at several universities throughout the world, according to him.
She has done significant advising work for numerous governments and non-governmental organizations in addition to her exclusively academic work.She has appeared as counsel before the International Court of Justice and is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
She has also drafted amicus briefs on international law for counsel before domestic courts and spoke for the United Nations at its Regional Course on International Law for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on practical issues of international law.