Dr. Kanu is a highly skilled and experienced legal practitioner and academic. His main specializations are in commercial law and dispute settlement, corporate law, financial crimes and corruption control, international business law, international human rights and public international law. Until recently, he was Managing Partner of Cole, Kanu & Partners, and he has served as Prosecutor at the Anti-Corruption Commission in Sierra Leone, and Secretary of the General Legal Council (the legal practice regulatory body in Sierra Leone). He was also legal officer, Procredit bank (SL) limited, and visiting associate, banking and finance practice, White & Case LLP (London office) under the international lawyers for Africa (ILFA) secondment program in 2009. He was also a partner in two law firms and has acted as consultant advising numerous commercial and non-commercial entities including the Defence Office of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Dr. Kanu is presently on public service sabbatical, as he currently serves as Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative for Legal Affairs, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York. In that role, Dr. Kanu coordinates the African Group in New York in the ongoing negotiations in the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, and also the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law Working Group III on investor-States dispute settlement reform. Dr. Kanu was elected by acclamation as the President of the 29th Meeting of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, recently appointed Coordinator of the Informal Working Group of the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on the Outstanding Issues on the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. He coordinated the resolution on the observer status of the Group of Seven Plus in the General Assembly. Dr. Kanu represents Sierra Leone in the executive board of Justice Rapid Response, and has led and acted as head of delegation or lead adviser in several intergovernmental meetings and negotiations for the Republic of Sierra Leone.
EducationLL.B (Hons.), (2007) Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone; B.L, (2008) Sierra Leone Law School; LL.M in International Business Law, (2014) Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary; SJD (summa cum laude) in International Business Law, (2018) CEU Budapest, Hungary. Appointments during doctoral studies: Junior Academic Visitor, Commercial Law Centre, Faculty of Law, (Harris Manchester College) Oxford University (2017); Visiting Scholar, Columbia University School of Law in the City of New York (2018); and CEU Global Teaching Fellow, University of Makeni (2018). United Nations International Law Fellowship (2019).
Memberships and Professional AssociationSierra Leone Bar Association (Member); Lawyers for Human Rights Sierra Leone (Member)
Recent Notable Projects
- Ebola ECOWAS Court of Justice Litigation: Co-counsel, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law and 2 Others vs. the Republic of Sierra Leone in the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice. This is an application seeking judicial declaration pertaining to the individual and public interest claims on the violation of the rights to life and health of healthcare workers and other victims on account of the mismanagement of the Ebola funds and failure by the Government of Sierra Leone to investigate and provide redress following the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone between May 2014 and November 2015. Withdrew representation upon appointment as Ambassador by the Government of Sierra Leone in July 2018. The case is ongoing.
- Climate Information and Early Warning System Project: lead researcher in the Environmental Protection Agency’s research project on “Climate Information Integrated into Development Plans and Early Warning System (EWS): Review of Relevant Laws in Sierra Leone and Recommendations for the Integration of Climate Risk into National Policies and Plans”. Projected supported by the Global Environment Facility, United Nations Development Programme and Climate Information and Early Warning Systems Secretariat.
- Judicial Training Curriculum: designed the training curriculum on environmental law for judges and magistrates in Sierra Leone for the Judicial and Training Institute in Sierra Leone (October 2018)
- Agriculture Financing
- Capital Markets And Securities Regulation
- Corporate Finance
- General Commercial Law
- Litigation (Commercial & Economic Crimes)
- Mines And Mineral Resources
- Regulatory Compliance (Anti-Corruption And Corporate)
- Secured Transactions Law
- “70 Years of the International Law Commission, Its Future Role in the Changing Landscape of International Law and the Small-Developing States Nexus”, 13 FIU L. Rev. 1043 (2019).
- ‘The Fight against Corruption in Sierra Leone: Challenges and Opportunities in the Jurisprudence’, (2016) 2 African Journal of International Criminal Justice (AJICJ) 49.
- ‘Not Too Big to Fail? - Towards a Corporate Rescue Culture in Sierra Leone: A Comparative Analysis’, (2017) the General Legal Council (Sierra Leone) Law Journal.
- ‘Fighting Corruption in Sierra Leone: The Offence of Misappropriation of Public Funds, Revenue and Property Examined’, (The General Legal Council (Sierra Leone) Law Journal 2016) 43.
- ‘Charting a New Path to Commercial Arbitration: Sierra Leone to Accede to the New York Convention’ (Kluwer Arbitration Blog, April 2017).
- ‘Towards a Purposeful Economic Integration in Africa: Free Movement of Persons in Lieu of Illegal Migration’, Sixth Forum of International Law and African Union Law on the theme: The Legal, Political and Socio-Economic Consequences of Migration, Situation of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea 2017.
- ‘Post-Brexit UK and Free Trade with Sierra Leone: The Devil in the Details’ Politico SL (Freetown, 30 August 2017).
- ‘The Right to Life, Dignity and the Place of the Death Penalty in Sierra Leone’ Politico SL (Freetown, 2 March 2016).
- ‘Reforming Sierra Leone’s Legal Educational System: A National Imperative’, Annual Conference of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Makeni City, Sierra Leone 2014.
- ‘The Fight against Corruption in Sierra Leone: Challenges and Opportunities in the Jurisprudence’, Law Society Symposium, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone 2014.
- ‘Freedom of Information: A Tool for Openness in Governance?’ Public Lecture, Mass Communication Department, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone 2012.
- ‘Understanding the Meaning of Corruption – A Detailed Examination of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, Media Alliance against Corruption Training Workshop, Bo City, Sierra Leone 2012.
- ‘Draft Policy on Cross-Media and Multi-Media Ownership in Sierra Leone’, presented to the Policy Committee of the Independent Media Commission, Sierra Leone, 2011. (Co-authored).