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Attiya Waris

Independent Expert on foreign debt, other international financial obligations and human rights

Attiya Waris was appointed the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt, other international financial obligations, and human rights by the Human Rights Council at its 47th session, and took up the function on 1 August 2021.

Attiya Waris is Kenya’s second full female law professor and the first professor from a religious, ethnic and racial minority in the country. She is also the only known Professor of Fiscal law on the African continent. Her original scholarly contribution to this field has been the development and strengthening of the linkages between finance and development through taxation, debt and illicit financial flows and the raising of living standards.

Professor Waris has in the past held the position of Director Research for the University as well as acting Deputy Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences as the first female Professor to hold both posts separately and simultaneously. She holds several portfolios currently and: is currently serving as the UN independent expert on foreign debt and international financial obligations under implications for human rights globally, the Chair of the Supervisory Board of the Capabuild Foundation based in the Netherlands, a Commissioner on the O’Neill-Lancet Commission on Racism and Structural Discrimination and Global Health and a member of the Editorial board of the Yearbook on Economic Determinants at the WHO while also being the Managing Editor of the Journal on Financing for Development housed at the University of Nairobi.

Most recently Professor Waris was quoted in the Constitutional Court of Kenya in the debate on housing tax but her work was used by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas citing her as a legal scholar during the recently concluded G77 meeting in Kampala in January 2024. She has been a founding member of several organisations including the African Tax Researcher’s Network based in South Africa, the Tax Justice Network Africa, the Capabuild Foundation in Amsterdam and the Committee of Fiscal studies, University of Nairobi and most recently AFRODAD-East and Horn of Africa.