Biographies of Commissioners
Michael Smith (Australia)
Mike Smith is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism at Macquarie University in New South Wales, Australia. Until July 2013, he was an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations in New York and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, a position he assumed in November 2007.
Mr Smith served as Australian Permanent Representative to the UN at Geneva and Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament between 2002 and May 2006. In 2004 he was Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Between 1998 and 2002 Mr Smith was Chief of Staff to Alexander Downer MP, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Overseas, in addition to Geneva, Mr Smith has served as Australian Ambassador to Egypt and Sudan, Minister (Political) in the Australian Embassy, Washington and Ambassador to Algeria and Tunisia. Earlier in his career he had postings in Lebanon, Egypt and Syria.
In addition to his responsibilities at Macquarie University, Mike Smith pursues his continuing interest in international issues through his membership of the Board of Advisors of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) in the Hague and of the Advisory Council of the Global Center on Cooperative Security (GCCS) in Washington DC.
Sheila B. Keetharuth (Mauritius)
Sheila B. Keetharuth is a human rights defender from Mauritius who has worked and travelled in mainland Africa for over two and a half decades. She is a committed human rights advocate having extensive experience in research, advocacy, litigation and training in Africa.
Ms Keetharuth was appointed in October 2012 as the first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. She was appointed as a member of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea on 26 September 2014.
Until 30 June 2012, Ms Keetharuth was the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), a pan-African NGO based in Banjul, The Gambia. In July 2002, she joined Amnesty International as a Researcher at Africa Regional Office in Kampala, Uganda. She was the Interim Head of Office until December 2005. After reading for an LLM in International Human Rights Law and Civil Liberties at the University of Leicester (UK), Ms Keetharuth was called to the Bar in Mauritius in January 1997.
In 2010, the Madrid Bar Association awarded her a Medal of Honour for her human rights work on the African continent.
A broadcaster for over eight years, Ms Keetharuth worked with the Programme Exchange Centre of the Union of Radio and Television Organisations of Africa (URTNA-PEC), Nairobi, Kenya, and with the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). As a fellow of the Reuter Foundation (1989-1990) Ms Keetharuth spent a year at the University of Oxford, UK, studying international relations and law.
She is currently enrolled as a part-time doctoral candidate at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her particular interests are: business and human rights, extractive industries and litigation to strengthen the African human rights system.
Since May 2014, Ms Keetharuth is an expert member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Victor Dankwa (Ghana)
Mr Victor Dankwa is Associate Professor at The University of Ghana and chairs the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee of Ghana.
He was a Member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights from 1993-2005 serving as its Vice-Chair, Chair and as the First Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Detention Centres in Africa (1996-2000).
He was Senior Member of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana (1972-2005), and a Senior Member at the Department of International Law, University of Limburg, The Netherlands (1985-1987).
Professor Dankwa also held positions as a Member of the Committee of Experts drafting proposals for the current Constitution of Ghana; Commonwealth Secretariat Consultant to the Constitution Drafting Committee of Swaziland and United Nations Consultant for Review of the Laws of Liberia for their conformity with International Human Rights between 1991-2005.
Furthermore, he served as a Member of Ghana Law Reform Commission from 1991 to 2005.