International statesman

Malawi president appoints WUSTL law professor Mutharika to senior cabinet

As part of his continuing efforts to serve his native country, A. Peter Mutharika, J.S.D., professor of law, has been named Malawi’s Chief Advisor to the President on Constitutional, Legal and International Affairs.

Mutharika currently is on leave in Malawi for the 2007-08 academic year. Upon his return, he will serve as the Charles Nagel Professor of International and Comparative Law in the School of Law. The professorship is named for Nagel, LL.B. 1875, who was U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President William Howard Taft, a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, a member of WUSTL’s Board of Directors and a part-time law lecturer. The estate of Nagel’s law partner, Daniel Noyes Kirby, LL.B. 1888, made the professorship possible.

“Peter’s international work, including in his native Malawi, is extraordinary,” said Kent Syverud, J.D., law dean and the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professor. “The chaired professorship recognizes his outstanding contributions to international law as well as to the law school and Washington University communities.”

This is not the first time Mutharika has served as adviser to his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, who was elected to a five-year term as Malawi’s president in 2004. He also was the strategic adviser to his brother’s presidential campaign. After the victory, Mutharika helped the president form a 19-member cabinet.

In his current role, Mutharika is advising his brother on the constitutionality of the president’s decisions, constitutional reforms and judicial appointments. He also acts as a special presidential envoy to other heads of state and heads of international organizations.

“Over the past several months, I have been on diplomatic missions to six countries on three continents,” Mutharika said. “What is challenging about the job is the fascinating interplay of law, politics and diplomacy. We are doing our best, and Malawi’s efforts are now receiving international recognition.

“The job gives me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a direct contribution to our country and to sometimes see the results directly,” he said. “Here everything is a priority, but we have priorities within priorities. The main issues facing Malawi are issues of food security, which we have now accomplished; better health for our people; better opportunities for education; infrastructural development; and better access to clean water by more people.”

While in Malawi, Mutharika also is serving as adviser to the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative for Africa. The initiative is “a public service project dedicated to promoting the rule of law around the world” as the “most effective long-term antidote to the pressing problems facing the world community today, including poverty, economic stagnation and conflict.”

An expert on international economic law, international law and comparative constitutional law, Mutharika is the author of numerous books and articles.

His forthcoming book on international trade, “Foreign Investment Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Emerging Policy and Legal Frameworks,” will be released by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Leiden, Netherlands) in the spring.

This book describes the efforts by the 48 Sub-Saharan African countries to create conditions that will make foreign direct investment attractive to the region. The first section looks at the policy frameworks that underpin these measures, and the second section deals with the emerging legal frameworks for attracting foreign investment.

Mutharika notes that despite rates of return on foreign direct investment that have averaged between 25 percent and 30 percent over the past several years, the African region has not managed to attract more than 3 percent of global foreign direct investment. According to Mutharika, the inability to attract significant foreign private capital has created economies that are too dependent on foreign aid.

Among his other professional activities, Mutharika continues his work as a member of the Panel of Arbitrators and Panel of Conciliators for the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.