Rakiya Omaar

Director of African Rights


Rakiya Omaar, a Somali lawyer by training, is the director of African Rights, an international human rights organization which documents human rights violations and conflict and promotes dialogue. Since 2013, she is also Chair of Horizon Institute, a consultancy firm that seeks to help communities transition from fragility to resilience and to strengthen local institutions.

Rakiya is the author of numerous books, reports and articles on genocide, war, conflict, justice and gender. She has written extensively on Rwanda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other countries in Africa. The only human rights researcher on the ground during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, she wrote the earliest detailed account of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance (Revised Edition), August 1995, which immediately became a standard reference text. Other publications include The Cycle of Conflict: Which Way Out in the Kivus?; Peace Building and Democracy: The Lessons of Somalia and Somaliland in Greg Mills and Richard Cobbold’s Global Challenges and Africa: Report of the 2004 Tswalu Dialogue and Access to Justice in Somaliland: Public Perceptions.

In 2009, she served as a member of the African Union High Level Panel on Darfur, chaired by President Thabo Mbeki. In 2012, she worked as an advisor to the Joint  Special Representative of the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). In 2013-2014, she was a member of the High Level Panel on Fragile States established by the African Development Bank, and chaired by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.