Dr. Prosper Nobirabo is a scholar of international law and political science with a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Bern in Switzerland. An indigenous Batwa, or “Pygmy,” from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Nobirabo has addressed heads of state and consulted to NGOs and the UN to promote the needs of constitutional protection for indigenous minority rights. He has received numerous international awards for his work and in his relatively short academic career, has established himself as an expert on minority rights in constitutional law.
Dr. Nobirabo’s outspoken criticism of President Joseph Kabila’s government and its widespread corruption has brought on numerous threats from the national security forces, the very body charged with maintaining the country’s insecure peace. Since the publication of his first book, Dr. Nobirabo has been singled out and known to be on the government’s watch list. One colleague in D.R. Congo notes that merely having Dr. Nobirabo’s book on hand is cause for prompting threats from security agents. It was the poisoning death of a close Congolese colleague that ultimately convinced Dr. Nobirabo that the death threats, imprisonment and torture he suffered previously in D.R. Congo may well be consequences he would face.
Even before earning his Ph.D. summa cum laude, Dr. Nobirabo was recognized by European and African colleagues as the first of Central Africa’s Batwa population to have achieved such a high level of education and professional recognition. With joint SRF and the then-named Foundation Open Society Institute (now Open Society Foundations) support when he began his IIE-SRF fellowship in 2006, Dr. Nobirabo established himself as a prolific writer. From his host campus at the University of Bern, he published extensively, including a 500-page book entitled, Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Law: A Case of the “Pygmies” of the D.R. Congo (2007). In addition to numerous speaking events and interviews, Dr. Nobirabo contributed to academic journals, including an October 2008 publication in International Review of Penal Law.
After his fellowship ended in 2008, Dr. Nobirabo returned to D.R. Congo, however his political positions still left him in conflict with government forces. He left for Austria where he has refugee status. Dr. Nobirabo has continued to write prolifically, publishing three articles he researched during his fellowship on land rights, genocide and good governance. He has published a book chapter and another three articles that were researched post-fellowship on the right to self-determination in international law, local communities’ access to justice, and legal pluralism. He also continued his education, earning two Master’s degrees in political marketing and communication.
Dr. Nobirabo continues to write. He is currently working on a series of articles on environmental rights, and a comparative analysis between the presidential electoral systems of the United States and D.R. Congo.