UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL Laws alumna Melinda Janki wins Commonwealth Law Conference Rule of Law Award 2023

8 March 2023

The award recognised Melinda’s outstanding contribution to furthering the rule of law in Guyana.

Melinda Janki

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, in conjunction with LexisNexis, has named Melinda Janki as the winner of the prestigious 6th Commonwealth Law Conference Rule of Law Award.

Melinda was recognised for her outstanding work to uphold the rule of law in Guyana’s nascent oil and gas sector. Melinda’s legal work includes reducing ExxonMobil’s environmental permits from 23 years to 5 years. She represents citizens in several cases challenging ExxonMobil’s oil and gas operations as unlawful, including a claim based on violation of the constitutional right to a healthy environment.

Additionally, Melinda drafted the Environmental Protection Act and successfully lobbied for the Constitution of Guyana to include the right to a healthy environment.

Melinda’s international work includes advising the West Papuan peoples on their right to self-determination under international law. She is known for defending the rights of the LGBTQI community, and her strong opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

Melinda is an international lawyer, with over 30 years of experience. She obtained the LLB and LLM in Public International Law at UCL Laws, and also holds a BCL from Hertford College, Oxford University.

Melinda commented:

"I am absolutely thrilled to receive this Commonwealth award. It locates my work in exactly the right place – tackling abuses of executive power and working to uphold the rule of law in the oil and gas sector. The award recognises that this work is about protecting freedom under the law in Guyana and cannot be ignored as ‘environmentalism’.

Greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels contributes to the breakdown of the global climate system, and ocean acidification. As lawyers, we cannot ignore the impacts of what we do, but we are free to choose whether we protect life and the rule of law.”

The award ceremony will take place at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Law Conference 2023 which will be held in Goa, India on Thursday 9 March.

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