Language Switcher

Commissioners from Middle East & North Africa

Hadeel Abdel Aziz
Hadeel Abdel Aziz – Jordan
Hadeel is a leading activist and human rights defender in Jordan. She is the Executive Director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid. Established in 2008, JCLA is a Jordanian NGO that’s the largest legal aid provider in Jordan, providing legal aid services at 16 clinics located across all 12 governorates to marginalized groups, including refugees, migrants, and domestic workers.


Mazen Darwish – Syria
Mazen Darwish is currently serving his first term as ICJ Commissioner. He was first elected in August 2019. A Syrian lawyer and human rights defender, Darwish graduated from the Law faculty at the University of Damascus-Syria. He is the founder and General Director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) and the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC), and a Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights. Darwish has been awarded over 12 international awards including “Roland Berger Human Dignity Award”, “UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize” and “Four Freedoms Award”, and was named in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2022. Darwish has been arrested several times in Syria due to activism on defending human rights, the last of which was for more than three years (until 2015). He has been an Advisory Member of the Myanmar Expert Committee, a member of the Constitutional Experts Committee formed by the UN Special Envoy to Syria, a member of “Geneva Talks”, a member of the national working group reviewing Syrian media legislation, the Deputy of the Institute for International Assistance and Solidarity, and the leader of the Observation Team in the Moroccan and Jordanian Parliamentary Elections 2007.


Gamal Eid
Gamal Eid – Egypt
A prominent lawyer and human rights defender in Egypt and the Arab world, Gamal Eid is the founder and director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, founded in 2003 to promote freedom of expression, campaign against censorship in the Arab region, and provide legal assistance to journalists and free speech activists. As a result of his work as a lawyer and human rights defender, including his legal representation of those suspected of opposing the military regime in Egypt, Eid was subjected to a constant campaign of harassment and intimidation, including arrest, travel ban, defamation campaigns and unfair criminal proceedings. His office, telephone communications and e-mails have also been under constant surveillance by Egyptian security forces. Eid is currently serving his second term as an ICJ Commissioner, having been elected in July 2019.


Nahla Haidar
Nahla Haidar El Addal – Lebanon (Executive Committee Member)
Nahla Haidar is a prominent Lebanese jurist. She has been serving her first term as an ICJ Commissioner since her election in March 2019 and became a member of the Executive Committee in 2021. In 2023, she was re-nominated to serve a second term on Executive Committee. She is the Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), of which she has been a member since 2013. Member of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol to the Convention (2015-2016 & 2019-2020). Member of the Working Group on inquiries (2017-2018). CEDAW’s Rapporteur on Reprisals since July 2018. Nahla has over 35 years of professional experience mainly within the United Nations System, in various capacities, both at headquarters and in the field, ranging from social development, to relief coordination, to peace-building and to development cooperation. She holds an LLM in Law from Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, and Law degree in International Law from Saint Josef University in Beirut Lebanon and a licence in Sociology. Arabic is her mother tongue and she is fluent in French and English.


Shawan Jabarin
Mr. Shawan Jabarin – Palestine (Executive Committee Member)
A third-term commissioner, Shawan is a Palestinian human rights defender and the General Director of Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization and an ICJ affiliate. He was elected to the Executive Committee in 2018. He began his career as a fieldworker in the southern West Bank for Al-Haq and acquired a MA in human rights from Galway University in Ireland before becoming the General Director of Al-Haq. In August 1990, during one of his administrative detention terms, Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. In November 1994, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared his detention to be arbitrary. Following his release in early 1998, the Israeli authorities allowed him to travel abroad eight times over seven years before imposing an indefinite travel ban in 2006, after he became Al-Haq’s director. Shawan has won numerous awards from various European and American organizations. He is also a member of the MENA board at Human Rights Watch.


Kalthoum Kennou
Justice Kalthoum Kennou – Tunisia
Kalthoum Kennou is currently serving her third term as Commissioner, having been elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2016. She is a Judge of the Tunisian Cassation Court. She previously served as an investigating Judge at the Tribunal of Tozeur in Tunisia (2010 – 2012), an investigating Judge at the Tribunal of Kairouan (2005 – 2010) and a Judge at the Court of Appeal of Tunis (2001-2005). She has been the President of the Tunisian Judges’ Association since 2011, and served as its Secretary-General in 2005. She is a strong advocate in support of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Tunisia, where she has been the subject of professional and personal attacks as the result of her work.


F Ouguergouz
Justice Fatsah Ouguergouz – Algeria
Fatsah Ouguergouz is serving his second term as an ICJ Commissioner, having been elected in March 2015. Justice Ouguergouz is a former Vice-President of and one of the inaugural judges of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights, first elected in 2006 and then re-elected in 2010 for a six-year term. He graduated in Law from the University of St. Etienne in France and has a PhD in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International Law in Geneva. He has taught Public International Law at the University of Geneva, has served as a Human Rights Officer in Rwanda for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, worked as Legal Officer at the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations in New York and was Secretary of the International Court of Justice at the Hague.


Michael Sfard
Michael Sfard – Israel
Michael Sfard is an Israeli lawyer specializing in international human rights law and the laws of war with a special emphasis on belligerent occupation. He has served as counsel in numerous important cases on these topics in Israel, including the successful litigations for the removal of settlement built on private Palestinian lands, petitions concerning the Separation Barrier, and the challenge to the Israeli policy of targeted killings. He is the legal adviser to serveral Israeli human rights and humanitarian organizations as well as peace groups 8such as Yesh Din, Peace Now, Breaking the Silence, Comet Middle-East and the Human Rgihts Defenders Fund). He also represents Palestinian communities and Israeli and Palestinian activists. Sfard grew up in Jerusalem, served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a military paramedic, he was a conscientious objector and spent three weeks in military prison because of his refusal to serve in Hebron. Sfard is a graduate of the law faculty of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and he retained his MA degree from the University College of London (LL.M. in international human rights law). Sfard won the Emille Grintzwedig Human Rights Award for 2012. In 2014 he won a fellowship with the Open Society Foundations for a project examining human rights litigation in Israel related to the occupied Palestinian territories. Sfard has written a number of books and articles that have been widely published in Israel, the US and Europe.