"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." - Mohandas Gandhi


rofessor Omara-Otunnu is the first and to date the only holder of a UNESCO Chair in Human Rights in the United States of America and Coordinator of UNESCO Chairs in Human Rights in the region that comprises Israel, Western Europe and North America. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Institute of Comparative Human Rights at the University of Connecticut. In addition to his tenured position teaching history at the University of Connecticut, he also serves as Executive Director of the UConn-ANC Partnership, which consists of three projects: comparative human rights, oral history, and archives, and has received funding from the Mellon Foundation; and he leads the University of Connecticut-University of Fort Hare (South Africa) international linkage, as its director. The linkage, whose main objective is reciprocal capacity-building at the two institutions, was funded by a Tertiary Education Linkages Project (TELP) grant from the United Negro College Fund.

Dr. Amii Omara-Otunnu was educated at Makerere University, Uganda, and earned a B.A. (Cum Laude) degree in Social Studies from Harvard University, an M.Sc. in Political Science from the London School of Economics, and a B.A. (Honours) in Jurisprudence (Law) and a Doctor of Philosophy in History from the University of Oxford.

In June 2005, Professor Omara-Otunnu was given The Luminary Award by the World Affairs Council. The Award was created to honor those who have profoundly impacted global affairs with an emphasis on the overall betterment of the world. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland (1990-1997) and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) was the keynote speaker during the Award ceremony.

Professor Amii Omara-Otunnu, a practical visionary, has devoted his life to the cause of human rights and to promoting democratic pluralism, equitable development, and social justice around the globe. He engages in these causes as an advocate and a scholar, by shaping policy and inspiring and building alliances for positive change. For his achievements, Dr. Omara-Otunnu has received international recognition, including an entry in the 2002 edition of Marquis’s Who’s Who in the World.

Since his student days in Uganda and the United States, Dr. Omara-Otunnu has been involved in movements for democracy, human rights, and social justice in pre- and post-apartheid South Africa. At Harvard, he founded the Harvard African Students’ Association and was the organization’s first Secretary-General. He also served as a student representative on Harvard University’s Shareholder Responsibility Committee, where he helped push for Harvard to divest from South Africa during the apartheid era. At the London School of Economics in 1980, Dr. Omara-Otunnu was among the student leaders who proposed Nelson Mandela, then in prison, for the titular position of Chancellor of London University. At Oxford University, he was elected president of St. Antony’s College Students Union and president of the Oxford Africa Society. In both positions, he organized conferences to discuss human rights abuses in apartheid South Africa, the war in the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, and the conflict in the Middle East.

Dr. Omara Otunnu’s academic interests span the areas of human rights, jurisprudence, constitutional and administrative law, civil-military relations, Pan-Africanism, and leadership in Africa. He places a special focus on the interplay of politics, the military, and human rights in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has received research support from the Ford Foundation, Harvard University, and the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning.

His articles on political developments in Africa have been published in academic journals and scholarly books, including the Journal of Modern African Studies; The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World; Military and Militarism in Africa; Conflict in Africa; The Biographical Dictionary of African Leaders South of the Sahara; Africa and Eastern Europe: Crisis and Transformation; and Political Parties in Africa. He has authored Politics and the Military in Uganda, 1895-1985; has a book on the modern history of the Upper Nile Basin forthcoming; and is currently writing on the relationship between the rule of law and human rights in Africa since the advent of colonialism. He also writes regularly for a wider audience and has had articles published in several newspapers and magazines including Newsday and The Hartford Courant. He has appeared on current affairs radio and TV programs, such as BBC, Radio Netherlands International, Voice of America, National Public Radio (in the USA and in South Africa), and World Net TV.

He has been invited by the United Nations’ Security Council to discuss approaches to international security through regional organizations. In 1984, he was a member of a UNESCO delegation of experts to Beijing, China, for a conference aimed at identifying ways to eliminate racism and its impact worldwide. In 1995, he was one of five international scholars selected to work on a project with the International Peace Institute in Oslo, Norway, on the issue of armed conflict and democratization in Africa. Dr. Omara-Otunnu is a member of the Connecticut Governor’s Board on Trade with Africa, and has participated in an Ambassadorial Seminar at the U.S. Department of State. He also has served on various ad hoc international committees, including the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Council for the Development of Economic and Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

Dr. Omara-Otunnu holds memberships in a number of organizations, including the African Studies Association, Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Oxford Law Society. At the University of Connecticut, he founded and directed the Center for Contemporary African Studies. Later, he initiated and led the negotiations that established the partnerships between the University and the African National Congress and the University of Fort Hare.

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