PIONEER AFRICAN WOMEN IN LAW
Jacqueline Lohoues-Oble, Ph.D.
First Woman Professor in Private Law
By Papa Thierno Ndoye
Jacqueline Oble, (nee Lohoues-), is an Ivorian lawyer and politician, born in 1950 in Dabou (Côte d'Ivoire), a town located a few miles away from Abidjan. Born into a family of eleven children, Jacqueline Oble is the first female candidate to run for President in the history of Cote d’Ivoire. A widow, a mother of four daughters, and grandmother of two granddaughters, Lohoues-Oble started her primary education at the Notre Dame of the Apostles school of Dabou and proceeded to Bingerville, where she passed her Ordinary (O)Level Certificate (BEPC). She proceeded to Bouaké Girls' College and later joined the University of Abidjan to study Law.
In 1975, Jacqueline Oble obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Abidjan Law School. She subsequently attended the University of Paris II, where she completed her master's degree in Private Law in 1977. She defended her thesis in 1982 at the University of Jean Moulin, Lyon III with first-class honors. Dr. Lohoues-Oble is considered the first female in Francophone Sub - Saharan Africa to pass the Private Law examinations "aggregation competition" organized by the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES) in 1983.
With regards to her professional career, Jacqueline Oble wears two hats: she is a female legal scholar and a politician. At the aforementioned university, she demonstrated her passion for teaching and research. After her "aggregation", she became a senior lecturer at the Training and Research Unit for Administrative, Political and Legal Sciences at the Cocody Campus of the University in Abidjan. Subsequently, she became the Dean of the Faculty of Law and a tenured Professor in 1987. Prof. Lohoues-Oble is also head of the Abidjan Consulting Firm and Legal Affairs (CCEJ). In February 2008, Prof. Lohoues-Oble became arbitrator and President of the Court of Arbitration at the Joint Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
She has also been an active member of a host of institutions and associations. These include the International Academy of Comparative Law, the African Academy of Sciences, Arts, Cultures, and Diasporas (ASCAD) in July 2004; the Foundation for the Protection of Nature; Foundation for Continental Law Initiative, the Regional Insurance Control Commission (CRCA), the Inter-African Conference of Markets Insurance (CIMA), the Regional Expert Commission of the Francophonie University Agency (CRE-AUF), member of the Advisory Committee of the African Law Institute (IAD).
Jacqueline Oble is a former member of the International Institute of Legal Scholars( using French as the medium of communication) (IDEF); former President of the Ivorian section of the Henri CAPITANT Association of the Friends of French Legal Practices and former member of the Council of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO).
As Dean and co-founder of the Private University Faculties of Abidjan (FUPA), Jacqueline Oble was also a Professor in the Department of the National School of Administration (ENA) in Abidjan between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. From 1994 to 2009, she was a guest lecturer in many foreign universities, chaired various doctoral committees, or invited as a committee member. Jacqueline Oble's first steps in politics began in 1984 at a conference on the expansion of family law in Africa, through which President Omar BONGO ( former President of Gabon) noticed and mentioned her to President Felix Houphouet Boigny, who in turn invited her to work within his government. Jacqueline Oble subsequently joined the government led by Alassane Ouattara. She was therefore appointed Minister of Justice from 1990 to 1993 and returned to teaching after the death of President Boigny. She co-founded in 1994 the Liberal Party of Côte d'Ivoire, Le Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR), was elected Representative of Abobo to the National Assembly in 1995 until her resignation in 1999.
In 2005, Lohoues-Oble became the only woman on the list of the sixteen -member-cabinet of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire. From February 2006 to March 2007, she was appointed Senior Legal Adviser to Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, in charge of the coordination of crisis management. In April 2006, she chaired the Scientific Committee Conference of Grand-Bassam on "social cohesion" organized by both UNDP and the Ivorian Government and also chaired the Steering Committee for the organization of the "Forum on National Dialogue" resulting from the UN Resolution 1633 between May and September 2006.
It is as a result of heading the Association of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians and as a founding member of the Association of Women Lawyers that Lohoues-Oble embarked in 2010 on the electoral adventure to become President of Côte d'Ivoire. The place of women, youth, employment, the modernization of justice, and the revamping of the health and education sectors prominently featured on her political agenda. With only 0.27% of the votes of the electorate, she threw her support in the second round behind President Laurent Gbagbo, who later appointed her as spokesperson and Minister of Education from December 5, 2010, to April 11, 2011.
Following the refusal of the international community to recognize the government of Guilbert Ake, Lohoues-Oble strongly condemned the invasion of Côte d'Ivoire by French and United Nations-led troops, calling it a serious breach and disregard for Ivorian institutions. After the arrest of President Gbagbo on April 11, 2011, Lohoues-Oble returned to teaching at the Cocody Campus. Subsequently, in 2013 she became a member of the Scientific Council of the International Union of Judicial Officers. Concerning her contributions to the legal field, Jacqueline Lohoues-Oble is known to be highly prolific in her contribution to several scholarly works towards stimulating the consolidation of the Rule of Law. Similarly, she played a significant role in improvingIvorian family law; and women and children's rights. Lohoues-Oble participated in numerous conferences and seminars on African Community law, Insurance Law, Business Law, Constitutional Law, Environmental Law, and Urban Planning law.
As we underscore her contribution to the resolution of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, it is equally essential to note that Oble is a brilliant lawyer, as showcased in her prestigious publications, especially her input to OHADA. She was made head of mission for its prospective study on the progress and financing of the said organization between May and August 2002. Already in 1996, her credentials in jurisprudence won her a consultancy with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She shared the same perspectives with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on issues of good governance, legal and judicial reforms in Cameroon, Madagascar, and Djibouti from 2000 to 2002. In the same vein, she drafted the Bill on Sexual and Reproductive Health: Phase 1 & 2 (World Bank, Ministry of Health of Côte d'Ivoire August 2004) and distinguished herself as a member of the committee reviewing the UEMOA-BCEAO draft texts of January 2004.
Furthermore, in the context of her consulting services, Lohoues-Oble supervised the publication of the book " The Reproductive Health Laws and Policies in French-speaking Africa" spearheaded by the Centre for Reproductive Health Law and Policy (CRLP) and for the analysis of Côte d'Ivoire's rules and regulations on environmental protection, biodiversity, resource genetics, and property on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in March 1999. She also consulted with the Central Bank of West Africa (BCEAO) in 1996 on the draft convention establishing the Regional Council for Public Savings and Financial Markets; In 1994, Lohoues-Oble issued a legal opinion on the effects of the devaluation of the CFA franc; and another on the legality of the Board's decision to amend loan agreements and advances given to AfDB staff.
All in all, the intellectual brilliance of Lohoues-Oble, her high level of professionalism, her outstanding contributions in shaping the law in Côte d'Ivoire, Africa, and globally have earned her honorary titles such as the Knight in the Order of the Academic Palms of the French Republic, Commander in the Order of National Education of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and Officer in the National Order of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire. Although retired, Professor Lohoues-Oble continues to serve as an Advisor to the Constitutional Council of Mali, having won the admiration of then President, Mamadou Koné, who once hailed her as an Iron Lady in Africa, and a true "model of success for all women."
Her commitment to improving the living conditions of the people of Côte d'Ivoire, especially the issue of inheritance that poses a problem in the country, justified the publication of her book entitled Ivorian inheritance law, a study that draws on her thesis: Inheritance law in Côte d'Ivoire: Tradition and Modernism".