External Advisory Board: Elizabeth Odio Benito

Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito

Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito

President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Elizabeth Odio Benito began her two-year term as President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on January 1, 2020.  She has been a judge on the Inter-American Court since 2016 and brings to the presidency more than 50 years of experience defending human rights.  She has comprehensive, practical and academic experience in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law.

From 1983 to 2003, she served as member of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNFVT) and in 1987 and 1988, she was a member of the Expert Committee for the Prevention of Torture in the Americas (ECPTA).

From 1993 to 1995, she served as vice president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where she was a judge until 1998.

In 2000, she was elected chairperson of the Working Group on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and greatly contributed to its adoption in 2002 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

She has been a member of the Costa Rican Group to the Permanent Court of Arbitration since 2000, and was a member of the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the main subsidiary body of the Commission on Human Rights. 

She was special rapporteur to the United Nations Sub-Commission on Discrimination and Intolerance based on Religion or Creed, and wrote a major report on the elimination of religious discrimination and creed.

In her country of Costa Rica, she served as second vice president and the minister of environment and energy from 1998 to 2002, and served twice as minister of justice, from 1978 to 1982 and from 1990 to 1995. In 1993, she was the ambassador permanent representative to the United Nations, Geneva, and the ambassador head of delegation world conference on human rights, United Nations, Vienna.

A professor emeritus at the University of Costa Rica, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by St. Edward´s University in Austin, Texas.

She is the author or co-author of several publications on human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.