BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo Law School Dean Makau W.
Mutua returns to Nairobi, Kenya, this month to deliver two keynote
speeches on human rights and justice in African nations.
Mutua's two latest policy speeches follow a similar appearance
July 21 in Nairobi during which he addressed an international
conference on bringing justice to those responsible for sexual and
gender-based violence in countries going through conflict and civil
Recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on human
rights law, Mutua has continued to address themes of recovery and
justice in his native Africa since he was named interim dean of UB
Law School in December and became the law school's 18th dean in
Educated at the University of Nairobi, the University of
Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and at Harvard Law School, Mutua has
conducted numerous human rights, diplomatic and rule-of-law
missions to countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe. He has
spoken at public forums in many parts of the world, including
Japan, Brazil, France and Ethiopia.
Mutua has consistently drawn from his international background
and knowledge of African politics and Western law, to champion
progressive politics and humanitarian values in what he described
as "tormented societies," African cultures struggling with conflict
and violent change of government.
Mutua will speak on "Unpacking Transitional Justice: A Review"
at the "Restorative Systems of Justice and International
Humanitarian Law" conference Aug. 17-20 in Nairobi. His speech will
discuss transitional justice, a government's attempts to address
human rights violations that took place during times of unrest. Too
many academic and social activists assume transitional justice is a
"utopian certainty," according to Mutua.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Mutua states. "At the
outset, we need to understand that transitional justice concepts
are experimental -- good experiments to be sure -- but that they do
not offer us tested panacea because they are essentially works in
"This is not meant to diminish the utility of the concepts or to
throw cold water on them as a beachhead for recovering societies
with a legacy of traumatic conflict. Rather, it is to recognize
their limitation so that we do not stampede to the temple only to
find it empty of the goddess of truth."
Mutua's second major address this month will be on "Democratic
Citizenship and Human Rights: The Kenyan and American Experiences."
This speech is part of "Constitutional Democracy in Africa in the
21st Century," an international seminar in Nairobi taking place
In this speech, Mutua will discuss how the misconception and
abuse of identity -- in particular among different ethnic and
racial groups in Africa -- has significantly hampered the concept
of citizenship in African countries such as Kenya and also in the
"Citizenship in the nation still means little, as opposed to
citizenship in the tribe," Mutua says. "This is a result of the
inability of the country to realize constitutionalism (which is a
unified pattern of ideas, beliefs and attitudes based on a written
body of law) and human rights. It is a challenge that can first be
addressed in a commitment to a new democratic constitution that
will put citizens at the center and open up opportunities for a
real political and social democracy."
A SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Floyd H. and the Hilda L.
Hurst Faculty Scholar at UB, Mutua is a member of the executive
council and the executive committee of the American Society of
International Law (ASIL), the most prestigious and largest
organization of international lawyers in the world. He serves as
chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and sits on the
boards of several international organizations.
Mutua was recently appointed by the Kenyan government to chair
the Task Force on the Establishment of a Truth, Justice and
Reconciliation Commission. He also was a delegate to the National
Constitutional Conference, the forum that produced a contested
draft constitution for Kenya.
Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School
-- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has
established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a
leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides
both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools
graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever
they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary
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education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
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