On November 1, 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Professor E. Tendayi Achiume to the position of Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Achiume is the first woman and first person from southern Africa to serve in the role, which was created in 1993.
The Special Rapporteur on racism is an independent human rights expert appointed by the UN's Human Rights Council to call attention to the most pressing problems of racial, ethnic and xenophobic discrimination and systemic intolerance around the world. The Special Rapporteur conducts fact-finding visits, works directly with nations to effect change, and submits periodic reports to the Human Rights Council. This mandate is also a platform for interdisciplinary research and the exchange of knowledge on how to best implement global anti-racism standards. More information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and on avenues for engagement with her work is available from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Achiume is based at UCLA School of Law, where she is a core faculty member of the Promise Institute for Human Rights, the Critical Race Studies Program and the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. Among the courses she teaches is the International Human Rights Clinic, in which students provide crucial pro bono support for the mandate.
In addition to her appointment at UCLA Law, Achiume is a Research Associate of the African Center for Migration and Society (ACMS), at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. In 2016, she co-chaired the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), and she is currently the co-chair of the ASIL Migration Law Interest Group. Her research and teaching interests lie in international human rights law, international refugee law, international migration and property. The current focus of her work is the global governance of racism and xenophobia; and the legal and ethical implications of colonialism for contemporary international migration.
Her publications include "Race, Refugees and International Law," in The Oxford Handbook on International Refugee Law (2020), "Migration as Decolonization," 71 Stanford Law Review 1509 (2019), "Governing Xenophobia," 51(2) Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 333 (2018), "Syria, Cost-Sharing and the Responsibility to Protect Refugees," 100 Minnesota Law Review 687 (2015) and "Beyond Prejudice: Structural Xenophobic Discrimination Against Refugees," 45(2) Georgetown Journal of International Law 323 (2014).
Achiume earned her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. While at law school, she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Development Studies from Yale.
Following her graduation, she served as a law clerk for Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and Justice Yvonne Mokgoro on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Thereafter, as Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow, she represented refugees and migrants at Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg, while teaching on the faculty of the International Human Rights Exchange Programme based at the University of the Witwatersrand. Prior to her current appointment at UCLA, she was a litigation associate at the New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell and a Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow at UCLA School of Law. She is also a graduate of the United World College of the Atlantic.