Language Switcher

Commissioners from Asia-Pacific

Kyong Whan kenny-ahn_clip_image001

Professor Kyong-Whan Ahn – Republic of Korea
Professor Kyong-Whan Ahn, from the Republic of Korea, is currently serving his second term as an ICJ Commissioner, having been elected in 2014. Professor Ahn is currently a professor emeritus at the Seoul National University Law School, prior to his retirement he taught at the University from 1987 to 2007. He served until July, 2009 as Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, appointed by the President of the Republic of Korea in October 2006. From March 2007 until his retirement from NHRIK , he was Deputy Chair at the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions – an association of national human rights institutions worldwide. As legal scholar, he worked as the President of the Korean Constitutional Law Association (1999-2001) and a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Law Institute (2003-2004). From 2003 through 2004, he served as Chairman at the Committee of Legal Policy of the Ministry of Justice and University Reformation Committee of the Ministry of Education. Kyong-Whan Ahn has been actively engaged with the civil society. He was a founding chairman of the steering committee of People’s Solidarity for the Participatory Democracy, one of leading NGOs in Korea. Following retirement from university in 2013, he has been the President of Gong-gam, a non-profit human rigths legal foundation in Korea. Throughout his career, Kyong-Whan Ahn has published extensively, in both Korean and English, in the fields of the Anglo-American law, constitutional law, law and literature, and human rights law. He holds a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University, an LL.M. from the University of Pennsylvania and an LL.B. from Seoul National University. He was admitted to the State Bar of California and the District of Columbia Bar. He was a Chevening scholar to London School of Economics and Political Science in 1990-1991.


Justice Adolfo Azcuna – The Philippines
Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna is the first Filipino Commissioner of the ICJ. He served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines from 2002 to 2009, and is Chancellor Emeritus of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA). A true legal luminary in every sense, he was part of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and served as Presidential Legal Counsel, Press Secretary and Spokesperson for the late President Corazon C. Aquino. Justice Azcuna was the Chairperson of the Philippine National Bank before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Among the awards Justice Azcuna has been conferred with are the Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera Award for the Most Outstanding Professorial Lecturer, and the JCI Senate Philippines -Insular Life Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award in the field of Justice and Law. In September 2016, Justice Azcuna received the Lux in Domino Award from the Ateneo de Manila University – a recognition given to outstanding alumni who have served the Filipino people to achieve genuine national development. Justice Azcuna earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree (with academic honors) and Bachelor of Laws Degree (cum laude) from the Ateneo de Manila University, and completed his post-graduate studies in International Law and Jurisprudence at the University of Salzburg in Austria.


Dr Elizabeth Biok – Australia
A first term commissioner, Dr Elizabeth Biok has represented asylum seekers and refugees at all levels of Australian immigration determination for more than twenty years. She has appeared before Australian parliamentary committees on immigration law and human rights issues. She has been closely involved with community organizations working on Australian and Southeast Asian human rights issues and refugee law. Her doctoral research was on refugees in the Asia Pacific region. Dr Biok is the Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists Australia and has regularly written and spoken on human rights in Southeast Asia. Dr Biok worked as a legal advisor with the United Nations in Timor Leste during and after the conflict of 1999. She has trained lawyers in Indonesia and Timor Leste, and maintains regular contact with civil society groups in both countries. She has also participated in ICJ missions to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.


Ms. Hina Jilani – Pakistan
Ms. Hina Jilani is currently serving her third term as an ICJ Commissioner. She is a prominent Pakistani lawyer and human rights advocate. She specializes in human rights and constitutional rights litigation, both in class action and individual cases. She has been invited by prominent academic institutions to teach courses on international human rights law, including University of Oxford, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Georgetown University Law School.
In 1980 she co-founded the first all women law firm and the first Legal Aid organization in Pakistan. She is current Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an NGO that she co-founded in 1986. She is also the Founding Trustee of Dastak Charitable Trust, a globally known women’s shelter and Centre for Access to Justice for women and children. Ms. Jilani served as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, and was member of international commissions of inquiry on serious human rights violations constituted by the United Nations. She was a member of the ICJ Eminent Jurists Panel on Human Rights and Counter Terrorism in by the ICJ in 2006. She is a member of the Elders, a group of global independent leaders established by Nelson Mandela to work for human rights, peace and democracy. She is currently serving as the President of the World Organization against Torture (OMCT). Ms. Jilani is the recipient of numerous human rights awards for her legal and human rights work internationally as well as in Pakistan and South Asia. These honours include the American Bar Association Litigation Award in 1992, the Millennium Peace Prize in 2001 and the Stockholm Human Rights award 2020. She has been awarded the Honorary Doctorate in Laws (honoris causa) by Trinity College, Dublin in 2016 and by the Roehampton University, United Kingdom, in 2009.


Mikiko Otani
Ms Mikiko Otani – Japan (Executive Committee Member)
A second term commissioner, Ms Mikiko Otani is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) since 2017 and a former Chair of the Committee on International Human Rights of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. Prior to being elected as a member of the CRC, she was actively involved in the reporting process for Japan under the CRC and the CEDAW, representing NGOs. Admitted to the Tokyo Bar Association in 1990, Ms. Otani holds a Bachelor of Law from Sophia University in Tokyo (1987), Master of International and Public Affairs from Columbia University in New York (1999) and Master of Law from the University of Tokyo (2003).


Justice Shah
Justice Ajit Prakash Shah – India
Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, from India, is currently serving his second term as an ICJ Commissioner, having been elected in 2014. Justice Shah is currently the Chairman of the Law Commission of India. He is also a Member of Governing Council appointed by the Ministry of Law and Justice for Judicial Reforms. Justice Shah retired as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi in February, 2010. He was appointed as the Judge of Bombay High Court in 1992 and was later elevated to the office of Chief Justice, Madras High Court in 2005 and on transfer took over as Chief Justice, Delhi High Court on 11th May, 2008 till his retirement. Justice Shah has delivered several landmark and prominent judgments during his tenure ranging on diverse issues such as: Application of the Right to Information Act to the office of the Chief Justice of India; Decriminalization of homosexuality; Freedom of Speech and Expression;Environment and Ecological matters; Protection of disabled person; Laws relating to women; Contract Labour; Child Labour; Employment Rights of HIV affected persons. While he was Chief Justice of the Tamil Nadu High Court and Delhi High Court, he directed various steps for computerisation and networking of all courts in Tamil Nadu, including introduction of e-courts. Since retirement he has led a Committee appointed by the Ministry in Planning Commission for drafting Privacy Law and Data Protection Law and has also held a number of People’s Hearings / Tribunals on issues such as violence against Christians in Kandhamal (Odisha), displacement of people for Narmada Dam and injustices against local people at nuclear plants. From 2010 – 2013 he was Chairperson of the Broadcasting Complaints Council (BCCC), a self-regulatory body appointed by Indian Broadcasting Foundation.


Justice Kalyan Shrestha
Justice Kalyan Shrestha – Nepal
Justice Kalyan Shrestha from Nepal, is serving his second term as ICJ Commissioner having been elected in December 2016. Justice Shrestha was Chief Justice of the Nepalese Supreme Court from 2015 until his retirement in 2016. Prior to this he served in a number of judicial roles including as Chief Judge of the Appellate Court, Jumla, a Judge of various Zonal, District and Appellate courts, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Law and as a Section Officer for the Supreme Court and Government of Nepal. Justice Shrestha has also held a number of senior roles in judicial bodies, including as Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly Court, President of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in Law, President of the Judges Society Nepal and as a Member of the Judicial Services Commission.


Ambiga Sreenevasan – Malaysia (Executive Committee Member)
Ambiga Sreenevasan joined the ICJ in 2018. She is a prominent Malaysian lawyer and human rights advocate. She served as President of the Malaysian Bar from 2007-2009 and was a former chair and then co-chair of Bersih, an NGO coalition advocating free and fair elections. She is the patron of Global Bersih which is the global arm of Bersih. She was one of the pioneers, and has served on the executive committee of the Women’s Aid Organisation, a Malaysian organization committed to a society that is free of violence against women. She was also involved in the Malaysian Bar Council’s Special Committee on indigenous persons rights. She has been involved in the drafting and presentation of several papers and memoranda on issues relating to the rule of law, the judiciary, the administration of justice, legal aid, religious conversion and other human rights issues. In 2009, she was the recipient of the U.S. Secretary of State’s “International Women of Courage” award and in 2011 she was awarded and Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Exeter and the “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur” by the Government of France. In 2023, she was re-nominated to serve a second term as Alternate on ICJ’s Executive Committee.