Who is Olara Otunnu?


Mr Otunnu was born in Mucwini (Chua) in northern Uganda in September 1950, Olara Otunnu received his early education at Gulu High School and King’s College Budo. He then attended Makerere University in Kampala (where he was president of the students’ union…), Oxford University (where he was Overseas Scholar) and Harvard Law School (where he was a Fullbright Scholar).

A lawyer by profession, he practised law as an Associate with the law firm of Chadbourne and Parke in New York, prior to becoming Assistant Professor of Law at Albany Law School. In the 1970s, as a student leader and later as Secretary-General of Uganda Freedom Union, Mr Otunnu played a leading role in the resistance against the regime of Idi Amin.

At the Moshi Unity Conference on Uganda (1979), Mr Otunnu was elected to serve as a member of the Uganda National Consultative Council, the interim administration in the post-Amin period (1979-1980). Harvard Law School graduate Olara A. Otunnu LL.M. ’78 is the newest recipient of the prestigious Harvard Law School Association Award.

The award will be presented by Dean Elena Kagan ’86 and Harvard Law School Association President Jay H. Hebert ’86 on June 15 at the Worldwide Alumni Congress, held this year in Washington DC. “Olara Otunnu is one of our most inspiring alumni,” said Kagan. “His career in public service, his extensive leadership in the fields of international security and human rights, and his groundbreaking work at the UN set an example for all of us. He is a tireless advocate for children around the world, and I am honored to be able to present him with the HLSA Award.”

The former United Nations under-secretary general and special representative for children and armed conflict, Otunnu founded and currently heads the LBL Foundation for Children.

The New York-based non-profit is committed to promoting education and healing for children around the world, especially those whose lives have been dislocated by war. By drawing international attention to neglected conflict situations and pressing for full compliance with international protection laws, the LBL Foundation supports communities to recover and rebuild themselves. During his time at the UN, Otunnu spearheaded the campaign to develop and mobilize international action on behalf of children exposed to war. He was the architect of the groundbreaking compliance mechanism designed to protect war-affected children, which was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council in Resolution 1612 (2005).

Otunnu is also the recipient of the 2005 Sydney Peace Prize, the 2002 German Africa Prize, and the Global Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights. In 2006, the International Jury for the World’s Children’s Prize, on behalf of 12 million children in Global Friend schools, elected him the first World’s Children’s Ombudsman. He has also served as president of the International Peace Academy; president of the UN Security Council; chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights; and Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Representative to the UN.

Otunnu serves on the boards of the Aspen Institute; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Carnegie Corporation of New York; and the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. The HLSA designates up to three award recipients each year. The award honors HLS alumni, faculty members and friends who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the legal profession, to society, or to HLS. Recipients are nominated by the HLS community and chosen by the HLSA Awards Committee. The first HLSA Award was presented to Erwin Nathaniel Griswold ’28 S.J.D. ’29 in 1992.

Since then, recipients have included Mary Robinson LL.M. ’68, the former president of Ireland; former Attorney General Janet Reno ’63; and Senator Barack Obama ’91. OLARA A. OTUNNU BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE For over three decades, Mr. Otunnu has held several diverse leadership positions, for which he has received wide acclaim for demonstrating outstanding political and diplomatic leadership, vision, innovation, and courage. The breadth and depth of that experience is exceptional.

This profile provides a sketch of that itinerary. I. Leadership Positions The leadership positions Mr. Otunnu has held include:
• United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, 1998 – 2005.
• President, International Peace Academy (now IPI), 1990 – 1998.
• President of the United Nations Security Council, 1981. • Uganda’s Representative to the UN Security Council, 1981 – 1982.
• Chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 1983 – 1984.
• Minister of Foreign Affairs (Uganda), 1985 – 1986.
• Uganda’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative and to the UN, 1980-1985.
• Vice-President of the UN General Assembly, 1982 – 1983.
• Chairman of the UN General Assembly Credentials Committee, 1983-1984.
• Chairman of the Contact Group on Global Negotiations, 1982-1983.
• Chairman, Group of 77 for Law of the Sea Negotiations, 1980 – 1981.
• Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Ministerial Meeting of Non-Aligned Movement, 1983.
• Secretary General, Uganda Freedom Union, 1976 – 1980. • Delegate, Moshi Unity Conference on Uganda, 1978.
• Member, Uganda National Consultative Council (Uganda’s interim government, following the removal of the Idi Amin regime), 1979 – 1980.
• President, Makerere University Students Guild (students’ union), 1972 – 1973.
• Member, Makerere University Council (university governing body), 1972-1973. He currently holds the following positions:
• President, LBL Foundation for Children.
• World’s Children’s Ombudsman (selected by a worldwide network of over 12 million children). II. Major Prizes and Awards Mr. Otunnu has been widely acclaimed for his many outstanding and diverse contributions and achievements. He is the recipient of several major international prizes and awards, including:
• Harvard Law School Alumni Association Award, 2007.
• Global Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights (India), 2006. • Sydney Peace Prize, 2005.
• German Africa Prize, 2002. • Distinguished Service Award, awarded by the United Nations Association of USA.
• Overseas Scholar, Oxford University.
• Fulbright Scholar, Harvard University.
• The United States of America has recognized Mr. Otunnu as a person of “extraordinary ability and talent”, for which he has been granted the special O1 immigrant status, which is reserved for “few individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor”.

III. Membership of Major Boards Mr. Otunnu has been very active in many civic activities and organisations, serving on the Boards of several major international institutions. Currently he serves on the following Boards:
• Aspen Institute.
• International Peace Institute (formerly IPA)
• Member, Club of Rome.
• Jury for the Hilton Humanitarian Prize.
• Jury for the John P. McNulty Prize.
• Patron for the World’s Children’s Prize.
• Aspen France. Previously, he has served on the Boards of:
• Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
• International Selection Commission of the Philadelphia Liberty Medal.
• Carnegie Corporation of New York.
• International Crisis Group.
• Council of African Advisers of the World Bank.
• Hampshire College.
• International Patrons of the Refugee Studies Programme at Oxford University.
• Advisory Committee of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
• Aspen Italia.
• Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
• Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva • Regional Security Steering Committee of International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London

IV. Membership of Major International Commissions Mr. Otunnu has been a member of several important independent international commissions, most of which have focused particularly on issues of Peace and Security, Human Rights, Conflict Management, Reform of the UN, and North/South Relations.

These commissions include:
• Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, 1994 – 1997.
• Commission on Global Governance, 1992-1995.
• Group on Rethinking International Governance, 1986 – 1990.
• International Panel on Management and Decision-Making in the United Nations (1986-1987).
• United Nations Group of Experts on New Concepts of International Security, 1984 – 1985.
• Commonwealth Group of Experts Study Group on the Security of Small States, 1984-1985.
• International Task Force on Security Council Peace Enforcement.


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