Daniel Bekele

Senior Director for Africa Advocacy,
Human Rights Watch

Daniel Bekele is the senior director for Africa advocacy at Human Rights Watch in New York. He previously served in the organization as the executive director of the Africa division from 2011 to 2016. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Bekele practiced law in Ethiopia and he managed Action Aid Ethiopia’s policy research and advocacy department. He also served as the legal department director and secretary of the board for United Insurance Company.

Bekele has extensively consulted with non-governmental organizations including Oxfam, ARTICLE 19, Freedom House and PACT, as well as with USAID and the World Bank. He has worked in varying capacities with numerous civil society organizations, and led the national-level campaign for the Global Call to Action against Poverty. Bekele’s focus includes promoting African civil society organizations, human rights and good governance.

In the 2005 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, Bekele was actively involved in promoting human rights, and independent election monitoring, as well as peace initiatives in the aftermath of the post-election crisis. However, he was arrested by the authorities for his activism and spent more than two years in prison in his native country of Ethiopia. He was internationally recognized as prisoner of conscience, and in 2009 received the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism. In 2010, he was nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award and the Index Freedom of Expression Award.

Bekele received a bachelor’s degree in law and a master’s degree in regional development studies from Addis Ababa University, and a master’s degree in legal studies from Oxford University, where he is completing a PhD in international law.