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Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf

Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, a Somali Judge, Elected President of the International Court of Justice

A Somali judge has been elected President of one of the most esteemed judicial organs in the world.

Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf is now President of the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations that oversees legal disputes between member states, particularly with regard to international conflict, diplomatic situations and geopolitical disputes.

The 69-year-old was born in Eyl, an ancient port town in the northeastern Nugal province of Somalia’s northeastern semi-autonomous region of Puntland. After earning his Juris Doctor degree in law from Somali National University (SNU), Yusuf went on to study for a Ph.D. in international law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies of Geneva, Switzerland.

His academic excellence set the groundwork for a stellar professional career. Yusuf has held high ranking legal positions in a number of UN bodies, including UNESCO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

He has also dedicated much of his time to furthering African law, founding and chairing a number of organisations and journals that strive to establish or improve legal proceedings across the continent.

In 2009, Yusuf was appointed as a judge at the International Court of Justice. Since then, his incisive contributions to ICJ judgements has seen him elected to increasingly prominent positions in the court.

On 6 February 2018, the Somali judge was elected President of the ICJ by his peers. The news lead to an outpouring of congratulations on Twitter:

Born in Eyl, educated in Mogadishu and Europe, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf is a man of unmatched legal consequence.

Yusuf has inspired many Somalis to embark on a career in law. His hard work, tenacity and spirit is a true reflection of the Somali people, and we hope his success will encourage a new generation to follow in his footsteps.