by Yoonjoung Lee
A former Foreign Minister of Nigeria and a director-general of the Nigerian Institute of International Affiars (NIIA), Joy Uche Angela Ogwu, was born in Dalas State in 1946. She obtained her academic training in leading institutions both in Nigeria and the United States. She finished her BA and MA in Political Science at Rutgers University and later received her Ph.D at the University of Lagos in Nigeria in 1977. In her specialization in International Relations, she earned major academic awards and distinctions.
Her career started at the Nigerian National War College and the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) as an assistant lecturer. At NIPSS, she worked as a research fellow while she published her first book, Nigerian Foreign Policy: Alternative Futures (Macmillan, 1986). This work promotes more African ties to Latin America and became a classic text for the study in Nigeria's Foreign Policy.
She worked for International Politics’ research department as the first female Director General, and she later started to focus her study on developing countries of Latin America and their relationships with Sub-Saharan Africa, while she was a visiting fellow at the University of London’s Institute of Latin American Studies.
She has worked as Presidential Delegate and Special advisor on various Nigerian delegations to the United Nations General Assembly since 1988. In 1994, she served the Multinational United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA) that oversees the country’s transition to majority rule.
In 2002, as an expert on security issues, she was appointed as a member of United Nations Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Four years later in 2006, she became Chairman of the Advisory Board as the first African female to serve the annals of the United States.
From 2000 to 2006, she greatly contributed to the development of foreign policy in Nigeria as she served as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on International relations.
She was also working as a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the Command and Staff College in Jaji, National War College in Abuja, and the Institute for Policy and Strategic Study (NIPPS). Her specialization there was the relationship between African and Latin American including an intensified South-South relationship.
Her numerous works include Nigeria’s International Economic Relations: Dimensions of Dependence and Change; the Nigerian Navy and the South Atlantic; the Economic Diplomacy of the Nigerian State; and New Horizons for Nigeria in World Affairs. Many of her lectures she gave over the world focused on South-South relations.
Her presence in the auspices of NIIA and the Presidential Advisory Council on International Relations contributed to lead not only the Nigeria-South America relationship to the next level but also furthered the funding program from the United Nations Education Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to Nigerian Schools. Joy Ogwu is one of the most prominent figures in the formation of Nigeria’s relationship with the rest of the world as well as women’s development and human rights.