Kingsley Abbott announced as the new Director of the ICwS

Friday 20 January 2023

The University of London is pleased to announce the appointment of Kingsley Abbott as the new Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Kingsley Abbott has more than 20 years’ experience in international non-governmental organisations, the United Nations and domestic legal practice. For the past nine years he was based in Thailand where he served the International Commission of Jurists as the Director of Global Accountability and International Justice. During this time, he developed and led numerous human rights and rule of law initiatives in Asia and around the world. Prior to that, he worked as a Senior Legal Adviser at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia and as Trial Counsel in the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Hague. He started his career in his home country of Aotearoa (New Zealand), where he mainly practised as a criminal barrister under a leading King’s Counsel.

Kingsley joins the Institute at a pivotal moment. In 2021, the University commissioned an Inquiry into the Future of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, which was led by Sir Malcolm Rifkind. The Inquiry provided the basis for the reimagination of the Institute to provide thought-leadership and research leading to policy solutions for contemporary Commonwealth issues. Kingsley will lead the Institute as it focuses particularly on current and future challenges confronting Commonwealth states and societies, building on the Institute’s established track record analysing historical trends and legacies.

"I am honoured to join the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at such a pivotal moment in its distinguished history,” Kingsley said. “I look forward to further harnessing its incredible potential to develop key research and effective policy solutions to address the pressing challenges States are facing today, from rising contempt for universal human rights to catastrophic climate change."

Professor Jo Fox, Dean of the School of Advanced Study, said: “I’m thrilled that Kingsley is joining the School. With his wide-ranging experience in demanding and complex environments, Kingsley is well-placed to position the Institute as a thought-leader in confronting some of the most challenging questions facing the modern Commonwealth.”

Professor Wendy Thomson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, said: “This is an important appointment for the University and we are fortunate in having attracted someone with Kingsley’s experience and international reach. We are looking forward to supporting his leadership as the Institute of Commonwealth Studies takes forward the vision set out by the Rifkind Commission.”

Kingsley will begin his role on 11 April 2023.