Hon. Irene Ovonji-Odida

Position: Human rights lawyer of ActionAid International
Country: Uganda
Hon. Ovonji-Odida has been Chairperson of the International Board of ActionAid International since 2009 and prior to that was Chair of the International Board Committee responsible for governance from 2007 and ActionAid Uganda from 2005. She has served in a voluntary governance capacity in various human rights and development NGOs since 1989. She has also been a member of, or headed, various national and regional government-appointed bodies set up to formulate policies, design programs or fact-find.  She has recently been appointed to a UN High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. 

Ms. Ovonji-Odida was an elected Member, East African Legislative Assembly (2001-2006). Her key contributions as a legislator included spearheading initiatives to increase transparency and accountability of the EALA to marginalized constituencies, increasing effective participation of African legislators in international trade negotiations, including chairing a daily coordination forum in Cancun WTO Ministerial; leading an EALA conflict resolution investigation on fishing disputes.  She participated in election monitoring for the EAC in Uganda in 2005 and Commonwealth Observer missions in Tanzania in 2010. 

Previously she worked as Director, Legal, Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, Office of the President, Uganda; and before that in the Uganda Law Reform, and the Uganda Constituent Assembly Commission which managed the 1995 constitution-making process in Uganda.  Her professional experience includes lecturing, training and mentoring, research and advocacy. She has authored or contributed to publications on women’s land rights in Uganda, constitutionalism and East African regional integration.

Irene Ovonji-Odida has a Bachelor of Law degree and Master’s in comparative jurisprudence, specializing in international human rights law and international law.  She also has training in gender and development, advocacy and training, as well as other areas of law. Her personal belief is that development needs a human face to be sustainable and relevant.