Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Václav Bálek (Czech Republic), has announced the appointment of Joy Ezeilo of Nigeria; Mohamed Chande Othman of Tanzania; and Mona Rishmawi of Jordan/Switzerland to serve as the three independent members of the new Independent International Fact-Finding Mission for the Sudan.
According to a statement by the Council, Othman will serve as Chair of the Mission.
Recall that the Human Rights Council established the Fact-Finding Mission in October, through resolution A/HRC/RES/54/2, “to investigate and establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of all alleged human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against refugees, and related crimes in the context of the ongoing armed conflict that began on 15 April 2023, between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, as well as other warring parties.”
The Mission, which was established for an initial duration of one year, was further requested to collect and analyse evidence in view of any future legal proceedings; to identify, where possible, individuals and entities responsible; and to make recommendations with a view to ending impunity and ensuring accountability and access to justice for victims.
The President of the Human Rights Council sought recommendations from various stakeholders and expressions of interest to find highly qualified and impartial candidates to fill these positions.
However, the Mission members will serve in their personal capacities and will not be paid salaries for their work.
The Council requested the Fact-Finding Mission to provide an oral update on their findings followed by an interactive dialogue at the Council’s fifty-sixth session, in June-July 2024.
It also requested the Mission to present a comprehensive report at the Council’s fifty-seventh session, in September-October 2024, and to submit those findings to the UN General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session, in October 2024.
Biographies of the Fact-Finding Mission’s expert members
Mr. Mohamed Chande Othman (Tanzania) served as Chief Justice of Tanzania (December 2010 to 17 January 2017). In 2017, he was appointed Eminent Person by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and charged with the examination of new information relating to the tragic death on 17-18th September 1961 of the second UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld and other members of his party (appointed in 2017).
In 2015, he was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon as Chairperson of the Independent Panel of Experts on the Dag Hammarskjöld Investigations.
In 2019-2020, he served as a member of the Independent Expert Review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute System, having been appointed by the Assembly of State Parties of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Mr. Othman’s previous experience includes that of Prosecutor General of East Timor (Timor Leste) (2000-2001), Chief of Prosecutions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1998-2000), and Senior Legal and Justice Sector Adviser for UNDP-Cambodia.
He has also served as a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s High-Level Commission of Inquiry into the Situation in Lebanon following the Israel-Lebanon Armed Conflict in 2006; as the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Sudan (2009-2010) and as the Chair of the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (2022-2023).
Professor Joy Ezeilo (Nigeria) is a distinguished Law Professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria with expertise in international human rights, criminal law, comparative constitution and the rights of women and children in Africa.
Professor Ezeilo is Emeritus Dean of Law at the University of Nigeria, and a visiting professor at multiple universities.
She is also the Founder and Director of Women Aid Collective (WACOL), a Nigerian NGO dedicated to advancing the human rights of women and young people.
From 2008-2014, she served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.
Mona Rishmaw (Jordan/Switzerland) is a former senior official at the United Nations, where she last served as Head of Office for the UN Special Envoy for Syria based in Damascus, Syria.
From 2004-2005, she was the Executive Director of the Secretariat of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, established by Security Council resolution 1564.
From 2009-2022, she was Chief of the UN Human Rights Office’s Rule of Law, Equality, and Non-Discrimination Branch. She also served as the UN Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia from 1996 to 2000.
From 1991-2000, Ms. Rishmawi was the Director of the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers at the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva. Prior to this, she practiced law from 1981-1991 in the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territory, and played a senior role within a main Palestinian human rights organization, al Haq. Her academic publications cover human rights, international human rights law and international criminal law.