20 Jan 2022: Amb (Dr) Namira Negm, Legal Counsel of the African Union
Legal Counsel, African Union
Ambassador Dr. Namira Nabil Negm is the Legal Counsel and Director of Department of Legal Affairs of the African Union. (2017- present) Prior to the assumption of this position, she served as Ambassador of Egypt to Rwanda (2014-2017).
Amb. Negm is a seasoned diplomat that occupied several diplomatic positions during her career. She was the Head of the Anti Corruption Unit, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt ( 2013 – 2014 ), she was the
Legal Advisor and Counter Terrorism Expert of the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations, New York (2006-2010). She has also served as the Legal and Political Officer in the Embassy of Egypt to the Netherlands (1999-2003). During her diplomatic career, she served in several positions in the Department of Legal Affairs and International Conventions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Amb. Negm is currently the lead of the AU team for establishing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. She has previously occupied the Position of Vice-President of the Assembly of States Parties of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Vice-Chairperson of the Adhoc Committee on International Terrorism (Sixth Committee) and the Coordinator of the African Group in NY for legal matters.
Dr. Negm was the lead Counsel of the African Union Legal Team before the ICJ in the Chagos Advisory Opinion and before the ICC in the Jordan’s Appeal in the Bashir case. She had served as Egyptian Negotiator in the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabilities, Definition of the Crime of Aggression in the ICC Statute, The Hague Convention regarding the applicable law on Securities held through Intermediaries and The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child
Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance, the Protocol of 2005 to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol of 2005 to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.
She has also negotiated on behalf of the G77 and China the Statutes of the Administrative Tribunal of the UN that marked the establishment of a new administration of justice system in the organization. She has negotiated numerous resolutions in legal topics bilaterally between Egypt and her partners and multilaterally at the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union and other international organizations. The subjects of the treaties included, law of the sea, fisheries, humanitarian law, human rights law, maritime law, arbitration rules, environmental law, international criminal law, refugee law, judicial cooperation, exchange of prisoners, recognition of judgements among others.
Dr. Negm has also taught at the University Public International Law and International Relations at the American University in Cairo (2010-2013), the Institute of Diplomatic Studies of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, University of Kigali and gave numerous lectures in universities in the United States, France, Switzerland, Ecuador among others. She is also a guest Professor at the University of Geneva (Summer School in International Law and International Humanitarian Law).
Dr. Negm carries a PhD in Public International law from University of London and an LLM from King’s College London. She has attended the Courses of Public International law and Private International Law at The Hague Academy for International Law. Summer Programs at the Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University and l’institut International d’Administration Publique in France.
Dr. Negm has several academic publications that include, an article on the “AU AIM Strategy and the Fragmentation of IUU Fishing Regulations in Africa: “the Case of West Africa”, an article on the “African Union Legal Drafting: Process, Mechanisms and Challenges” (2019), an article on “Lessons From Gbagbo & Blé Goudé Case and ICC Review: Perspectives from the African Union” (2019), a book on “Transfer of Nuclear Technology under International law, Case Study of Iraq, Iran and Israel”
(2009), a Chapter on the Role of Egypt in the negotiations of the Crime of Aggression in “The Crime of Aggression: A Commentary (2016), a Chapter on “The Sanctions Regime of the African Union in “the Case of Unconstitutional Change of Government” (first quarter of 2021), a book on “an introduction to African Union Environmental Treaties” (first quarter of 2021). She also had several non-academic publications on Security Sector Reform, the Iranian Nuclear Program and the Lockerbie Trial.
Amb Negm has been a speaker in numerous conferences addressing a variety of international law topics, among which are the following:
- ‘COVID-19 Solidarity and International Law’, at the 9th Annual Conference of the African Society of International Law (2020)
- ‘UN Settlement of Disputes Mechanisms by Peaceful Means,’ at the Diplomatic Academy of Ecuador (2020)
- ‘AU Sanctions Regime and Unconstitutional Change of Governments,’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tafts University (2020)
- ‘An Introduction to the African Continental Free Trade Area,’ at the second Conference organised by Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (2020)
- ‘The Development of African Union Law,’ at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, Serbia (2020)
- ‘AU and IUU Fishing: the case of West Africa,’ at a conference organized by University of Geneva and Max Plank Institute, Luxembourg (2019)
- ‘Giving Balance to the Debate between Upholding Human Rights and the Challenge of Counter Terrorism,’ at a Workshop On The Changing Face of Terrorism and Extremism Practical Responses, Kenya (2020)
- ‘AU perspective of Chinese BITs settlement of Disputes Mechanisms,’ Beijing University (2019)
- ‘Regional International Jurisdiction in Africa,’ Carthage University, Tunis, (2018)
- ‘AU Maritime Strategy and Blue Economy,’ a webinar organised by AU IBAR on Africa’s Blue Economy (2020)
- ‘African challenges in investment arbitration at the International
Colloquium regarding the evolution and adaptation of the investment laws and arbitration in Africa,’ organised by the African Academy of International Law Practice, Paris (2019)
- ‘Reinforcing the implementation of policies, strategies and regulations pertaining to Africa’s Blue Economy,’ at Nor-Shipping, Oslo (2019)
- ‘Challenges of the decolonization in Africa, reflection on the Chagos Advisory Opinion,’ at the Annual Conference of the American Society of International Law (2019)
- ‘Challenges of ICC from AU perspective at the ICC Retreat for African States Parties to the Rome Statute,’ organised by ICC, Addis Ababa (2019)
- ‘AU and the Competition Short of Armed Conflict and the Intersection with the International Armed Conflict :What Rules Apply ?’ at the Fifth Annual Military Law Forum, organised by the International Institute for Humanitarian Law and the African Command of the US Military, Sanremo (2019)
- ‘Africa and the International Law of the Sea,’ at the 7th Annual Conference of the African Society of International Law, Madagascar (2018)
- ‘Introduction to AU AIM Strategy and the Lomé Maritime Charter,’ at the Senior Leadership Maritime Security Symposium (Cutlass Express 18) organised by the US Navy in collaboration with Seychelles (2018)
- ‘African Union collaboration with the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU),’ at the Annual Conference of PALU, Tunis (2018)
- ‘Constitutionalism in Transitional Regimes,’ at a seminar organised by the Central European University and the American University in Cairo (2012)
- ‘Women and the Egyptian Constitution,’ at a seminar organised by the organisation of Women and Memory , Cairo (2011)
Summary of Discussion
Amb (Dr) Namira Negm kicked off our 2022 Conversation series on 20 January 2021. Our conversation focused on the engagement of African women in international organisations and arbitral tribunals. She was hosted by Professor Emilia Onyema of SOAS/AFAS.
Ambassador started the Conversation with a brief description of her background in law and politics having studied law and also international relations. She noted the influence of her mother who was a lawyers, her grandmother who was the first Egyptian female to study Botany, her father who was also a lawyer, and their home library filled with books on law and politics, on her interest in these fields of study – growing up, she was surrounded by working women. Dr Negm then discussed her career as a diplomat and now as the Legal Counsel of the African Union. She noted the need for clear goals, aiming high and tenacity. She acknowledged that there is huge competition and this will grow as more women are educated. She however also noted the current interest in international organisations and companies in hiring duly qualified women, which makes entry a little fairer. Entry into an organisation or company is only the start. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to scale various workplace hurdles, to achieve the goal we set for ourselves.
She then focused on her current role and discussed how she encourages and supports the use of duly African lawyers as advisors to the African Union. She however noted the difficulty in finding these qualified people. She called for a list of African professionals and academics that work in public international law, international trade, etc. Dr Onyema assigned this task to two colleagues in attendance: Ms Fatima Binta Sal and Ms Leyla Ahmed who graciously accepted to compile such a list which we will send on to the Ambassador and circulate more widely.
The Conversation moved on to engagement of Africans with the AfCFTA and its delivery. Ambassador expressed her desire for wide dissemination of information on the AfCFTA through publications by academics and others, national and popular media, and training by the African Arbitral centres, to ensure fuller engagement by a wider spectrum of users including foreign investors. She also mentioned the Africa Union legal associates program for those interested with more information on the AU website.
Looking into the future, Ambassador Negm sees an increase in the appointment of female African lawyers in international organisations and tribunals.
AFAS is very grateful to Amb (Dr) Namira Negm for honouring our invitation and sharing her career path and insights with us.