Makau W. Mutua

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Makau Mutua)
Jump to: navigation, search

Makau W. Mutua (born 1958) is a Kenyan-American professor of law. In December 2014, Mutua left the University at Buffalo Law School after serving for 7 years. He still remains a SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar at the Law School. He was the first professor in the history of the Law School to be named SUNY Distinguished Professor.[1] He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[2] In October 2015, he joined the World Bank in Washington D.C to work on governance and human rights. In December 2012, Mutua was appointed to a four-year term on the recommendation of the Obama Administration to the Board of Advisors of the International Development Law Organization or IDLO which is based in Rome, Italy.[3]

In July 2013, he was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to the Moreland commission to Investigate Public Corruption.[4] In that role, was appointed – as did all the other commissioners – to the rank of Deputy Attorney General by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Mutua was ranked No. 110 by Buffalo Business First in the Power 200 most influential people in 2013 in Western New York.[5] In March 2012, he was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to a three-year term to the board of directors of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.[6] In April 2011, he was appointed to a three-year term by Governor Andrew Cuomo to the New York State Judicial Screening Committee for the Fourth Department.[7] In May 2010, he became a member of the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, the first Greek-letter society founded by African-American men in the United States. Mutua has been named several times as among the most influential black lawyers and educators in the United States.[8]

In 2003, he was appointed by Kenya's President Kibaki to chair a task force that eventually led to the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in 2008.[9]


Early life and education[edit]

Mutua was born in 1958 in Kenya, the second of seven children. He received secondary education at Kitui High School and Alliance High School. An excellent student throughout his life, he gained attention in other ways while attending the University of Nairobi with his vocal opposition to the national government. He was arrested in May 1981 for his dissent and was only released after fasting in a hunger strike for several days.[10] He eventually found his way to Tanzania where he applied for United Nations refugee status. He earned a Masters in Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, ultimately attending Harvard Law School in 1984. There he earned an LLM in 1985 and an SJD in 1987.[11]

Legal and academic career[edit]

After graduation from Harvard, he worked for White & Case, a New York City law firm, but later pursued his dreams of human rights advocacy with his work at Human Rights First, then known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. In 1991, he returned to Harvard where he became the Associate Director of the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program. In 1996, he joined the University at Buffalo Law School faculty. In December 2007, he was appointed Interim Dean at the University at Buffalo Law School and was named the permanent Dean in May 2008. Mutua has lectured extensively abroad and at leading universities in the world where he has served as Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Iowa College of Law, the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica, the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, among others.[11][12] He was elected Vice President of the American Society of International Law from 2011-2013 after serving as its Executive Council from 2007-2010.[13] He was the co-chair of the 2000 Annual meeting of the ASIL. He sits on the boards of scholarly journals and NGOs. He was a founder and serves as Chairman of the Nairobi-based Kenya Human Rights Commission, regarded as a leading human rights NGO in the world.[14] He has received several academic accolades and distinctions. In 2007, he gave the Abiola Lecture, the signature keynote address at the annual meeting of the African Studies Association, the leading Africana Studies academic association in the world.[15][16] In April 2015, Mutua received the Distinguished Africanist award from the NYASA (New York African Studies Association), the association's highest honor.[17] Mutua is regarded as one of the leading academics in human rights and international law.[18] He has authored several books and dozens of scholarly articles in law journals and other publications.[11] He is a top law author on SSRN, the Social Science Research Network.[19] His latest book, Human Rights Standards: Hegemony, Law, and Politics is scheduled for release by SUNY Press in February 2016.[20] Mutua is one of the eminent scholars and thinkers in the movement known as TWAIL, or Third World Approaches to International Law. [21][22]

On September 24, 2014, Mutua announced that he was stepping down following a controversial 7 year term as Dean.[23]

Kenya government and media activities[edit]

In 2003, while on sabbatical in Kenya, he was appointed by the Government of President Mwai Kibaki Chair of the Task Force on the Establishment of a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission which recommended a truth commission for Kenya. He was also a Delegate in 2003 to the Kenya National Constitutional Conference, which produced a contested draft constitution for Kenya.[24] In 2006, he was legal counsel to John Githongo, the former Kenyan anti-corruption czar who exposed the Anglo Leasing scams in the Kibaki Government.[25]

In a seven-year period, Mutua became the leading and most popular columnist for the Sunday Nation, one of the two the main newspapers in East and Central Africa. In September 2013, he departed the Sunday Nation and joined the Standard on Sunday – the Sunday Nation's chief competitor.[26]

Selected works[edit]

  • Kenya's Quest For Democracy: Taming Leviathan (Challenge and Change in African Politics). L. Rienner Publishers. 30 April 2008 ISBN 1-58826-590-0
  • Human Rights NGOs in East Africa: Political and Normative Tensions. University of Pennsylvania Press. 12 September 2008 ISBN 978-0-8122-4112-9
  • Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique. University of Pennsylvania Press. 10 November 2008 ISBN 0-8122-2049-8
  • "Savages, victims, and saviors: the metaphor of human rights". Harvard International Law Journal 42 (1): 201–45. 2001. 


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Makau W. Mutua". 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  10. ^ Elizabeth Stull (9 May 2008). "University of Buffalo School of Law dean escaped, battled, rose to top". Daily Record. 
  11. ^ a b c
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ For UB law dean, Kenya's never far away Bloody political strife in Mutua's homeland keeps him involved The Buffalo News, 13 February 2008.
  25. ^
  26. ^