Full Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, ON. Born: Nigeria.
Dr. Obiora Okafor joined the Osgoode Hall Law School as an Assistant Professor in 2000, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2003, and Full Professor in 2009.
Background: He began his law career in Nigeria, where he practised as a Junior Partner from 1990-94; he also lectured in the Faculty of Law at the University of Nigeria while completing his law degree. In Canada, he was a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia (1996-98); was a Visiting Scholar with the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School (1999 & 2001); was Assistant Professor in the Department of Law at Carleton University(1998-2000); and, since 2000, is in his current position at York University. In 2004, he received a Canada-U.S. Fullbright Fellowship and was a Visiting Scholar at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal. In 2010, he became the first Black person ever to be awarded the Canadian Association of Law Teachers Academic Excellence Prize.
Research areas: Public international law and policy; international human rights law and policy; refugee law and policy; immigration law and policy; international legal theory.
Honours: Including Canadian Association of Law Teachers Academic Excellence Award (2010); Teaching Excellence Award, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (2001-02 & 2006-07); inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2 (2006); Governor General Gold Medal for “best university-wide doctoral student at UBC” (1999).
Works: The African Human Rights System, Activist Forces and International Institutions (2007); Legitimizing Human Rights NGOs: Lessons from Nigeria (2006); Re-Defining Legitimate Statehood: International Law and State Fragmentation in Africa (2000); Co-Editor, Humanizing Our Global Order: Essays in Honour of Ivan Head (2003); The Third World and International Order: Law, Politics and Globalization (2003); Legitimate Governance in Africa: International and Domestic Legal Perspectives (1999); several chapters in books; several articles in refereed journals including Osgoode Hall Law Journal; Canadian Yearbook of International Law; International Journal of Human Rights; Journal of African Law; International Journal of Refugee Law.
Reviewed in: West Africa Magazine (2000); Nigerian Tribune.
Education: PhD, Law (1998); LLM, University of British Columbia (1995); LLM (1994); LLB, University of Nigeria (1989).
Favourite book? Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. For its simple genius, for bringing my Igbo (Nigerian) culture, national experience and aesthetics to the world. For creating a way of speaking in English that was at the same time also our own way of speaking, and making deeper sense of the tragedy that colonialism wrought on our ancient cultures and human dignity.
Favourite quote? “The man [woman] dies in him [her] who keeps silent in the face of tyranny.” – from Wole Soyinka’s (Nobel Literature Laurette) book, The Man Died.
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Engage in public service as a political leader or at the international government level.
Who inspires you? I am inspired by all those who dare to dream and who act to transform their world in a progressive way (whether they have been sung and unsung).
Why do you do what you do? Because I really love doing it…I would be a scholar and teacher any day, regardless of whether or not I was paid.