By Johnson  Adebowale

Frontline energy lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, Professor Damilola Sunday Olawuyi, has emerged as the chairman of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Olawuyi, who represents Africa on the Working Group, took over from his Asia-Pacific counterpart on July 1.

The expert body was established in 2011 through UN Resolution 17/4, to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through country visits, capacity building and dialogue with Governments and all relevant actors, especially business enterprises.

Olawuyi, a Harvard and Oxford trained scholar with expertise in petroleum, mining, energy, environment, business, human rights, and public international law, has published over 150 articles, book chapters, and books on all aspects of sustainable development in the extractive industries and has served as a consultant to the United Nations, World Bank, and the UK’s Department for International Development, among others.

He is the President of the International Law Association (Nigerian Branch), the Global Vice Chair of the International Law Association (ILA), and a member of the International Bar Association’s academic advisory group on energy, environment, and natural resources.

He has delivered lectures on energy law in over 50 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

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He has served as a BOK Visiting International Professor (VIP) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a visiting professor at Columbia Law School, New York, the China University of Political Science and Law, the University of Birmingham, and at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. In 2019, he was a Herbert Smith Freehills visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

He is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti.

This is not Olawuyi’s first international appointment. In 2020, he was appointed by the African Union (AU) to serve on the AU Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment, and Human Rights Violations, while in 2021, he was appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari as a member of the Governing Board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

In 2020, he was elevated to the prestigious rank of senior advocate of Nigeria at the age of 37, becoming the youngest academic to hold the rank.

Earlier this year, he received the 2023 American Society of International Law (ASIL) book prize for his acclaimed text, Environmental Law in Arab States, published by Oxford University Press.

Speaking on his appointment, Olawuyi said: “I am honored to assume the role of chair of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights.