Prof Mensa-Bonsu delivers 2014 Alumni Lecture today

BY: Daily Graphic
 Prof Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu

The 2014 Alumni Lecture series comes off today at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, at 4p.m. under the auspices of the University of Ghana and the University of Ghana Alumni Association.

The lecture, on the topic, “The African Union’s Peace and Security Architecture: A guarantor of peace and security on the continent”, will be delivered by Professor Henrietta J.A.N. Mensa-Bonsu, Director of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), and chaired by Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Africans believe that instead of external powers and interests dictating solutions to problems in Africa, they should control their own destiny and provide “African solutions for African problems”. In respect of conflicts in Africa, the creation of a number of institutions, collectively known as the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), is the African Union’s (AU’s) response to developing the capability to handle Africa’s security challenges, and thereby be the guarantor of peace and security on the continent. Will the architecture serve the purposes for which it has been developed?

The lecture will examine the current state of the institutions and the operational challenges they face so that it might be possible to draw conclusions as to whether the AU can be the guarantor of the peace that Africa so craves.

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Profile of Prof. Mensa-Bonsu

Professor Henrietta Joy Abena Nyarko Mensa-Bonsu, nee Banful, is the Director of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD). She attended Wesley Girls High School, Cape Coast (1970-1977); University of Ghana where she graduated with Bachelor of Laws (LLB)  First Class Honours degree in 1980; Ghana School of Law (1980-82), and was called to the Bar in 1982; and Yale University where she obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) in  1985. 

 She was employed as a Lecturer at the Faculty of Law in the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1985 and rose through the ranks to attain full professorship in 2002. In 2003, she was elected a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

National assignments

Professor Mensa-Bonsu has served in a number of high-level national and international assignments. On the national  plane, she served on the Legal Committee of the Ghana National Commission on Children; represented Ghana on the Inter-governmental Meeting of Experts on the Draft African Charter on the Rights of the Child; served as member of the President’s Committee on the Review of Educational Reforms; the National Reconciliation Commission; and the Ghana Police Council. 

She has also served on a number of public Boards and Councils, notable of which are the Boards of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation; New Times Corporation; the Ghana Medical and Dental Council; the Methodist University College Council and the Board of Standard Chartered Bank.  She  serves the Methodist Church, Ghana as member of the Committee on Law and Polity; and on the Presiding Bishop’s Advisory Council.

International engagements

In the international arena, Prof Mensa-Bonsu served as the ECOWAS nominee on the International Technical Advisory Committee for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Vice-Chairperson of the ECOWAS Working Group  on the Harmonisation of Business Laws on non-OHADA States; member of the OAU’s Committee of Eminent Jurists  on the Lockerbie Case; and the AU’s Committee of Eminent Jurists  on the Hissene Habre Case. A highpoint in these positions was her appointment as the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Rule of Law (DSRSG) in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) with the rank of Assistant-Secretary-General in  2007.

As a Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the Rule of Law Sector of the United Nations in Liberia for four years, she had the privilege of leading the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission as its deputy head, and to lead the United Nations family on efforts to reconstruct the law-enforcement, legal and judicial sectors of post-conflict Liberia. Since returning to the University of Ghana in 2011, she has served as a Civilian Mentor to  the ECOWAS Senior Mission Leadership Course training of the Civilian Component for the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), and also on the  UN’s Senior Mission Leadership Course. She has recently accepted to serve on the Review Reference Group for the Project to Prepare a ‘Guidance Note on Peacebuilding’ for the United Nations system.  

The speaker as an academic

As an Academic, Professor Mensa-Bonsu has researched and published extensively on Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Family Law and Children’s Rights. She has been  a Visiting Lecturer at the Queens University of Belfast, Northwestern University School of Law; Visiting Scholar at  Leiden University in the Netherlands; and the 2014 Diplomat-in-Residence at the School of Public and International Affairs of the North Carolina State University.  

Academic awards

Professor Mensa-Bonsu  has earned  a number of academic awards and  Awards for meritorious service. These are: MaCallien Prize for the Best Graduating Student in Volta Hall (1980); McDougal Fellowship from the Yale University(1984); the Fulbright Fellowship (1991); and the ACU/UNITWIN Fellowship for Women (1994).  Her  awards for meritorious service include a Citation for Meritorious Service from the Ghana Armed Forces ( 2012), a Meritorious Service Award from the Akuafo Hall of the University of Ghana (2006); a Distinguished Award for Meritorious Service from the University of Ghana in 1999 and the International Association of Lions Clubs President’s Excellence Award ( 1998).

Currently, she teaches Criminal Law, Jurisprudence and Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, and serves on a number of Boards of the University. 

Prof. Mensa-Bonsu is married to Mr Kwaku Mensa-Bonsu and they have three adult daughters, five grandchildren, three foster sons and three foster grandchildren.