A. Kayum Ahmed is a South African human rights activist-scholar who serves as Special Advisor on the right to health at Human Rights Watch (HRW). He is leading the development of a global health strategy for HRW and is currently working on various global health projects including the Pandemic Treaty. Kayum also holds an appointment as Assistant Professor at Columbia University's school of public health where he teaches health and human rights advocacy.
Previously, Kayum worked on ensuring equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines as Division Director at the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Public Health Program, while teaching classes on socio-economic rights and decoloniality at Columbia Law School. Prior to OSF, Kayum served as Chief Executive Officer of the South African Human Rights Commission from 2010 to 2015. During this period, he led a team of 178 colleagues to monitor, protect and promote human rights in South Africa, and oversaw the management of nearly 45,000 human rights cases.
Kayum holds a Ph.D. in education from Columbia University as well as various law degrees from the universities of Oxford (MS.t), Cape Town (LL.B.), and Leiden (LL.M.). In addition, he has degrees in anthropology (M.A.) and theology (B.A. Hons).