Human rights lawyer, Deborah Kayembe, will be the third woman to hold the position as rector of Edinburgh University since the role was created in 1858.

Ms Kayembe, who came to the UK as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has lived in Scotland since 2011.

She has served on the board of the Scottish Refugee Council, and is a member of the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Court Bar Association.

Her achievements and contributions were honoured in 2019 by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and she became the first African to have her portrait on the wall.

Ms Kayembe will take up her role on the 1 March, she said: “I am delighted and deeply honoured to be elected as the first person of colour to hold the position of Rector of the University of Edinburgh. I am fully aware of the importance of my role at such a critical time. 

“We are facing so many challenges: from the Covid-19 pandemic to the battles for racial justice and the reckoning from the past in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the birth of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

“Respect for the values of humanity and kindness lies at the heart of all my work and I look forward to working with staff, students, and the whole University community, to ensure that everyone is valued." 

Professor Peter Mathieson said he is delighted to welcome Ms Kayembe to the University: “The position of Rector has a long and prestigious lineage, with rectors coming from a broad range of public and cultural life.

“I very much look forward to working with our new Rector as we navigate our way through the Covid-19 pandemic and build a bright future for the entire University community.”