Alex de Waal’s Biography

Alex de Waal’s CV


  • From 1984 to 1988, he studied at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he received his Doctor of Philosophy in Social Anthropology.
  • From 1981 to 1984, he studied at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he received his BA with honors in Psychology with Philosophy.
  • From 1976 to 1980, Alex de Waal studied at the Kings School Canterbury.


  • Honored with the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the UK New Year’s Honors List of 2009, “for services to development and conflict resolution.”
  • Atlantic Monthly‘s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009.
  • Prospect/Foreign Policy‘s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008.

Areas of Expertise and Interest

  • Africa
  • Complex emergencies
  • Conflict resolution
  • Human rights
  • Humanitarian crisis and response
  • HIV/AIDS governance in Africa
  • International security and defense
  • Sudan


Alex de Waal is an editor for the African Arguments book series and has his own African Arguments blog entitled, Making Sense of Sudan. Aside from his publications and blog, Alex de Waal has been a professor at Harvard University since 2004 and is the executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Career and Experience

After completing his education, Alex de Waal joined the African division of Human Rights Watch in 1986.  However, de Waal was displeased with the organization’s support for the American military’s intervention in Somalia and resigned from his position in December 1992.

Alex de Waal subsequently established two independent human rights organizations: African Rights in 1993, which documents human rights abuses and Justice Africa in 1999, which creates policy that responds to human rights crises. From 1997 until 2001 de Waal was involved in mediation attempts in hopes of initiating a swift and peaceful resolution to the  Second Sudanese Civil War.

Soon afterward de Waal was involved in the African Union mediation team for Darfur from 2005 until 2006. De Waal served as senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan from 2009 until 2011. Not being afraid of controversy, in 2008 de Waal stood against the International Criminal Court’s decision to arrest Omar al Bashir, the president of Sudan because he thought the decision was premature and counterproductive. De Waal has remained a strong and vocal presence in international policy throughout his career.