Expert Team: Initiative on Apex Court Appointments

Zaid Al-Ali is the founder of the Arab Association of Constitutional Law, the region’s first regional network of constitutional experts. He is also Senior Adviser in Constitution-Building at International IDEA.

Al-Ali’s previous work experience includes having practised international commercial arbitration for 12 years and working for the United Nations on Iraqi constitutional and parliamentary reform for five years.

Since 2011, Al-Ali has implemented projects on and provided assistance to the large majority of constitutional reform initiatives in Arab countries. He is the author of The Struggle for Iraq’s Future, published by Yale University Press (2014) and of Arab Constitutionalism: The Coming Revolution, published by Cambridge University Press (2021). Al-Ali has taught Law at Sciences-Po (Paris) and at Princeton University. From 2019-2020, he was a fellow at the Berlin Institute of Advanced Studies.

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Sternford Moyo is the Chairman and Senior Partner of the law firm Scanlen and Holderness where he specialises in mining, corporate and commercial law. He is also President of the International Bar Association (IBA). Mr Moyo is the first IBA President of African descent in the history of the 74-year-old organisation.

Mr Moyo has held numerous senior IBA roles, including Council Member, Management Board Member, Advisory Board Member and Chair of the African Regional Forum, Deputy Secretary-General for Southern Africa, Co-Chair of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Trustee of IBA-established entities, such as the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and eyeWitness to Atrocities, and member of the Task Force on Illicit Financial Flows, Poverty and Human Rights.

Mr Moyo’s professional career has seen him hold a variety of leadership positions, including having been a bar leader in Zimbabwe and in Southern Africa, and a corporate leader in mining, manufacturing, financial services and leadership development.

In 1990, Mr Moyo was selected by the United States Information Services to participate in a programme to familiarise young African leaders with the American legal system and its background. In 2004, he participated in a media advocacy course run by the University of Oxford.

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Mohamed Fadhel Mahfoudh is a former president of the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. A lawyer for the Court of Cassation since 2001, he was the first member of the Sfax regional council of the Tunisian Order of Lawyers (1998-2004), then secretary-general (2007-2010) and, finally, president (2010-2013). He was also a member of the Independent High Authority for Elections established during the first part of the Tunisian democratic transition.

Mr Mahfoudh is known on the international scene primarily as one of the members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015, this group of four organizations with divergent political views made its mark for its decisive role in building a pluralist democracy after the Arab Spring revolution of 2011 in Tunisia. The Quartet’s concerted actions resulted in holding presidential and legislative elections, and in ratifying the new Tunisian Constitution in 2014.

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Dr. Menaka Guruswamy is the Henry Steiner Visiting Professor of Human Rights Law at Harvard Law School (spring 2022).

She is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India where she litigates mostly large constitutional rights cases. Through her constitutional litigation practice, she has successfully sought reform of the bureaucracy in the country through fixed tenure (TSR Subramanian v Union of India), defended central government legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children (Right to Education case), and overturned section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised same-sex relations (Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India). Guruswamy is presently litigating the case for marriage-equality in India.

In her private law practice she also litigates in the areas of commercial law, white collar crime and technology-law.

She has also consulted with many agencies of the United Nations, including UNDP, and UNICEF on issues implicating international human rights law, and also constitution-making. Guruswamy has also supported constitution-making in Nepal. Early on in her career she practiced law in New York as an associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell. She is admitted to the New York Bar, and is a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association, India.

Guruswamy has a Doctorate from Oxford University (D.Phil.), a Masters in Law (LL.M) Harvard Law School and a basic law degree from the National Law School of India, Bangalore. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and a Gammon Fellow at Harvard Law.

She has been visiting faculty at Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, Columbia Law School, Brown University and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. In 2016-2017, she was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskoelleg zu Berlin (Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin)

Guruswamy was on Foreign Policy magazine’s list 100 most influential Global Thinkers for 2019 and with Arundhati Katju on Times Magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people for their work on the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India.

She has been published in a variety of publications including; The New York Times, the New York Review of Booksthe American Journal of International Law, and the Indian Express.

Guruswamy is the co-editor of Founding Moments of Constitutionalism (Hart Publications), 2019.

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Mathilda Twomey is a native of Seychelles. She holds a BA in English and French Law from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a Diplôme de Droit Français from the Université de Paris-Sud at Sceaux. She was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales and practised in Seychelles as a barrister. She graduated with an LLM in Public Law and subsequently a PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She was a member of the Seychelles Constitutional Commission in 1993 which was charged with drafting the third constitution of Seychelles. She was appointed judge at the Seychelles Court of Appeal in 2011 and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Seychelles in 2015.

She is a bencher of Middle Temple. She was Chair of the Civil Code Revision Commission and is now Chair of the Child Law Reform Committee in Seychelles. She is a member of the advisory board of the Global Judicial Initiate Network of the UNODC. She also chairs the Seychelles Legal Information Institute which reports judgments of courts in Seychelles and laws based on the principle of free access to law.

She has published widely including her monograph “Legal métissage in a micro jurisdiction: the mixing of Common Law and Civil Law in Seychelles”. Her most recent publication is with Joelle Barnes “Through a glass darkly: Reflections on 25 years of Constitutional Litigation in Seychelles”. She now lives in Seychelles but visits Ireland often to spend time with her partner, film producer and director Steve Woods, and her four children, Seán, Dominique, Camille and Aoibhín.

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José Ramón Cossío Díaz is a Mexican lawyer who served as Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico from December 2003 to November 2018. He has been a professor at various institutions such as the National Preparatory School of UNAM, the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey -Unidad Colima-, and the Faculty of Law of the UNAM.

Throughout his career, he has received various recognitions such as the Benito Juárez-Peña Colorada Award, the Research Award from the Mexican Academy of Sciences and the National Award for Sciences and Arts in the area of History, Social Sciences and Philosophy. He has written many books and published articles and memoirs in a variety of journals, magazines and newspapers. Since 2014 he has been a member of the National College.

Cossío Díaz studied law at the University of Colima, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree. He studied for a master’s degree in constitutional law and political science at the Center for Political and Constitutional Studies in Madrid. He carried out doctoral studies at the Faculty of Law of the Complutense University of Madrid.

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Humberto Sierra Porto is a Judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights since 2013 and served as its President during the 2014-2015 biennium. Previously he had served as Judge (2004-2012), Associate Judge (2001) and Assistant Judge (1992) in the Colombian Constitutional Court. As a researcher he has worked at the Institute of Constitutional Studies Carlos Restrepo Piedrahita and at the Universidad Externado de Valladolid. As a Professor, he has taught Constitutional Law at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, where he currently is the director of the Department of Constitutional Law, and previously has been the director of the postgraduate degrees in Constitutional Law, Parliamentary Law, Public Law, and Political Science and Sociology.

Judge Humberto Sierra Porto has a PhD in Constitutional Law from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, is a lawyer from the Universidad Externado de Colombia and has a specialisation in Constitutional Law and Political Science from the Centro de Estudios Constitucionales in Madrid.

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Gloria Patricia Porras is a Magistrate-Elect of Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, having been re-elected for another five-year term in March 2021. She has served on Guatemala’s Constitutional Court during the periods 2011-2016 and 2016-2021. She has also served as the Guatemala Constitutional Court’s President in 2015-2016 and 2020-2021.

Gloria Patricia Porras is also Wilson Center Latin American Program’s Global and Public Policy Fellow. In 2015, she was awarded the Global Jurist Award. The award is designed to honour a sitting judge, whether in an international or national court, who has demonstrated in his or her career courage in the face of adversity to uphold and defend fundamental human rights or the principles of international criminal justice. Gloria Porras holds a law degree and a master’s degree in international public law from  Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

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Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff is a professor of public law at Bielefeld University (Universität Bielefeld) and former Justice of the German Constitutional Court from 2002 to 2014.

She studied law at Bielefeld University and University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) and holds a master’s degree from Harvard Law School. In 1980, she obtained her PhD in Freidburg. After obtaining her PhD, she habilitated in Bielefeld in the fields of public law, philosophy of law and modern constitutional history. For several years (1988 – 1992) she headed the Environmental Protection Office of the City of Bielefeld, Germany. Since 1992 she has been at Bielefeld University where she is a professor of Public Law.

For her scientific achievements, Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff has been awarded the Grand Cross of Merit by the Federal President of Germany, an honorary doctorate by the European University Institute, the Hegel Prize by the City of Stuttgart and the Leibniz Prize by the German Research Foundation.

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Justice Dikgang Ernest Moseneke was born in 1947 in Pretoria, where he attended primary and secondary school. At the young age of 15, he was arrested, detained and convicted of participating in anti-apartheid activities.

He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, all of which he served on Robben Island. Moseneke studied for his matric as well as two degrees while in jail. While he was jailed on Robben Island, he obtained a BA in English and political science, as well as a B Iuris degree. He later completed an LLB degree. All three degrees were conferred by the University of South Africa.

Moseneke started his professional career as an attorney’s clerk at Klagbruns Inc in Pretoria in 1976. In 1978 he was admitted and practised for five years as an attorney and partner at the law firm Maluleke, Seriti and Moseneke. In 1983 he was called to the Bar and practised as an advocate in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Ten years later, in 1993, he was elevated to the status of senior counsel. He served on the technical committee that drafted the Interim Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1993. In 1994 he was appointed Deputy Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, which conducted the first democratic elections in South Africa. In September 1994, while practising law, he accepted an acting appointment to the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court.

Before his appointment as Justice of the Constitutional Court in November 2001, he was appointed a Judge of the High Court in Pretoria. On 29 November 2002, he was appointed as a judge in the Constitutional Court and in June 2005, he was appointed Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa – a position he held until his retirement in May 2016.

Moseneke also has 14 honorary doctorates in law and multiple law-related global awards.

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