Raymond Atuguba, Navigator at the University of Ghana School of Law


There is the law of navigation. In simple terms, it says that every company should have a vision and move carefully towards achieving that vision. For larger and significant organizations, it is extremely important to find ways to achieve the vision. Consequently, good leaders are those who are also good navigators. John C. Maxwell, the American speaker and author who advocates this law, says: “First-class sailors always remember that other people depend on them and their ability to chart a good course.” He adds: “Anyone can “steer the ship, but it needs a leader to set the course.” Leaders should be good navigators, able to take their people virtually anywhere.”

In fact, “somewhere” seems to be where the University of Ghana School of Law (UGSoL) is located, only in this case there are clearly defined boundaries. UGSoL has launched a transformative course to position itself as the preferred venue for legal education, particularly at the postgraduate level. One way to achieve this was to aim to transform the look of the school infrastructure through the construction of a new, modern, state-of-the-art, multi-purpose building. Another way is to create a completely different teaching and learning environment, significantly enhanced by the new infrastructure. There is also an opportunity to redefine legal education in Ghana by integrating technology and experiential learning into UGSoL's programs.

The question to ask is: Who is the navigator at UGSoL, leading the school into these uncharted waters, with a willing group of faculty, non-faculty, and students as internal partners on this journey of discovery? The current attitude at UGSoL towards leadership and staff manifests the law of buy-in, which states: “Your employees are willing to strive for your vision because they believe in you.” You must stick to your goal and be a leader, on whom they can rely.” The reliable leadership of the UGSoL and the mutual dependence on each other – management, employees and students alike – are responsible for the progress that the school has made in recent years. Furthermore, it is easier to move closer to a vision when leaders apply their wealth of experience and make an objective assessment of the current situation and its history, followed by stoic determination based on evidence rather than trial and error.

The search for the UGSoL navigator leads to an up-close and personal encounter with Prof. Raymond Akongburo Atuguba, a professor of general law at the UGSoL who has been teaching there since 2002. He is the dean of UGSoL, responsible for the academic and strategic management, leadership and development of the school. He is a Nankana from Mirigu in Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region and was born on April 1, 1974 in Bolgatanga, the regional capital of the Upper East. He completed his secondary education at St. Hubert Minor Seminary in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region and St. Charles Senior High School in Tamale in the Northern Region.

Professor Atuguba graduated with honors from the University of Ghana in 1997. In 1999, he was certified as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana. En route to this certification, he was recognized as the best student in Civil Procedure Law, Family Law and Commercial Law (Insurance Law) by the Ghana School of Law. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he received a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in human rights and international finance in 2000. He then obtained a Doctor of Juridical Sciences (SJD) degree with distinction. in Development Studies and Law and Development in 2004. He holds an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

Professor Atuguba was a Visiting Professor of Law and Henry J. Steiner Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Harvard Law School from 2018 to 2019, a 2024 Bok Visiting International Professor at Carey Law School of the University of Pennsylvania, and has taught over 40 related courses at universities in Africa , Europe, the United States of America, Canada and Australia. His research interests include politics, law and development in the Global South; Constitutional and Administrative Law in Africa; and transnational perspectives on human rights, law and organization, and community advocacy. He has published over 100 publications, been involved in over 100 research and advocacy projects, and produced over 100 research and technical reports. Over the last quarter century he has given over 500 lectures and presentations on every continent of the world. He has been involved in the review, review and drafting of over 500 constitutions, policies, major laws, policies, regulations, guidelines, manuals and procedures, primarily in African countries and also around the world.

Professor Atuguba served in the public service as Executive Secretary to the President of the Republic of Ghana from 2013 to 2015 and as Executive Secretary of the Constitutional Review Commission of Ghana established in January 2010. He has worked in the areas of constitutional governance and consolidating democratic gains for more than 15 years. He continues to have a keen interest in law and policy advocacy, public policy reform, natural resource management, justice sector reform and rights-based development approaches. He is the founder and former team leader of Law and Development Associates (LADA). He is also the managing partner of Atuguba and Associates. He is also co-founder, former managing director and former CEO of the Legal Resources Center and CEO of the LADA Institute. He has advised many African governments including the governments of Ghana, Liberia, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zimbabwe, etc.

He has also advised major international development agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the United Nations (UN), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank.

Others include the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES).

The rest is the British Council, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Action Aid International, Human Rights Watch, CARE International, PLAN International, KAF, International Council on Human Rights Policy (ICHRP), IBIS, Human Rights First, Ford Foundation, OSI and among others including OXFAM International.

Professor Atuguba designed, led or co-led over 100 training programs and workshops and chaired or sat on over 100 boards and committees nationally and internationally. He is a member of the Ghana Bar Association and has argued several landmark cases before the Supreme Court of Ghana. He is a member of the Law and Society Association and the American Society of International Law. He is married and has two children. He enjoys watching television shows, with 24, Designated Survivor, Suits and Blacklist being some of his favorites. Driven by his belief in possibility and guided by the principles of prayer, hard work, perseverance and integrity, he continues to inspire excellence in legal education and public service while setting his sights on succeeding toward the desired goal reach.

What he seems to have mastered is that successfully navigating organizations requires looking back at the past, reflecting on successes and failures, and identifying areas for improvement. Added to this is research to create a scientific basis for navigation in a particular direction. Because the livelihood of many could depend on the navigator, and yes, he must be listened to throughout the journey. In such companies, the balance between facts and belief is crucial for the best decision and success.

Effective application of the Navigation Act definitely works for UGSoL and is critical to the school's success. For now, their newly launched Masters in Law programs have become a program that can be replicated by other law schools. With Professor Atuguba as navigator – the leader of the transformative journey the school has embarked on – those involved expect nothing but success.


The author can be reached by email at [email protected]

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