Professor Henrietta Joy Abena Nyarko Mensa-Bonsu, nee Banful, is the Director of Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD). She attended Wesley Girls High School, Cape Coast (1970-1977); University of Ghana, Legon, where she graduated with Bachelor of Law (LLB) First Class Honours degree in 1980; Ghana School of Law (1980-82), and was called to the Bar in 1982; and Yale University in the United States of America (USA) where she obtained a Master of Law (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.
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 were 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 served the Methodist Church, Ghana as member of the Committee on Law and Polity; and on the Presiding Bishop’s Advisory Council.
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 recently accepted to serve on the Review Reference Group for the Project to prepare a ‘Guidance Note on Peace building’ for the United Nations system.
The speaker as an academic
As an academic, Prof 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.
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.