Ifeyinwa (Ify) Amadioha: Connecting human rights, civil rights, and environmental law

Ifeyinwa Amadioha

"It is a career goal to work with those that have limited or no access to justice in their quest for a pollution-free environment."

Home Country: Nigeria
Education: Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Imo State University Owerri Nigeria; Barrister at Law (BL) Nigerian Law School
Concentration: Environmental and Natural Resources Law

Ifeyinwa (Ify) Amadioha was admitted to practice law in Nigeria in 2007. Upon relocation to the United States, she acquired a Paralegal Certificate and worked as a paralegal in a New York civil rights firm. Currently, she is admitted to practice law in New York. Through Oregon Law’s LLM program, she looks to gain the skills needed to confidently enter the US workforce as an attorney. After school, Amadioha plans to successfully meet the LLM bar admission requirement in the State of Washington and secure a legal career within the environmental law sector.

What type of work have you done in environmental law?

I am currently part of the legal team of Foundation for Youth Development (FYD), a nonprofit organization funded by the United Nations Global Environmental Facilities Small Grants Program (UN GEF-SGP). FYD has a global footprint and carries out environmental sustainability projects across Small Island Developing States (SIDs) of Tuvalu, Tonga, and Nauru, as well as Africa (Nigeria to be specific). In this position, I review Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs) between FYD and project beneficiaries to ensure that such Agreements contain safeguards that protect the rights of Indigenous people while facilitating women empowerment.

What excites you about environmental law?

What excites me about environmental law is the fact that environmental issues go beyond science. This is to say that there is room for people like me that consider science a nightmare. Various international courts have held that environmental issues are human rights issues; there is also an intertwine between environmental issues and civil rights issues. I am thrilled to learn that the three areas of law that I am most passionate about-- Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Environmental Law-- are all interwoven into one: Environmental Law

Why do you want to pursue environmental law?

I am pursuing environmental law because, as an Indigene of Egbema which is a major oil-producing area in Imo and Rivers States in Nigeria, I know firsthand the negative impact of oil drilling. The big oil companies strategically operate in this region because they know that the people lack the resources to demand that while they conduct their oil business; they also owe a duty to the Indigenes to ensure that they live in a pollution-free environment. Because the Indigenes lack these resources, they have faced the consequences of uncleaned oil spillages, gas flare, improper disposal of toxic wastes, as well as economic losses. Growing up in Nigeria and now living in the United States allowed me to view life from a world perspective. I have come to realize that environmental issues are not just a Nigerian problem; it is also an issue in the United States, as well as other parts of the world. One thing in common, though, is that a particular group of people tend to suffer more than others. These are people that have limited or no access to justice. It is a career goal to work with those that have limited or no access to justice in their quest for a pollution-free environment.

By Rayna Jackson, School of Law Communications