Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei

Beyond the Face: Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei

Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, born on 1 February 1969, is a Ghanaian lawyer and the UN International Elections Commissioner. She previously served as the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana from 2015 until her dismissal in June 2018 due to financial malfeasance allegations. The dismissal has been contested in the Supreme Court of Ghana through two separate writs. Notably, she made history as the first female to hold the office of the Electoral Commission of Ghana since the country gained independence.

Before her role at the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei chaired the National Commission for Civic Education. Following her dismissal, in May 2019, she received an appointment from the United Nations to be part of a team of international advisors assisting in managing the 2019 presidential elections in Afghanistan.

Early Life and Education

Born in Nigeria, Charlotte Osei’s mother is of mixed West African nationality, not Ghanaian, and her father, also of mixed West African nationality, has one parent who is Ghanaian. She completed her secondary education at the Ghana National College in Cape Coast. Osei earned her LLB from the University of Ghana in 1992 and was called to the bar in 1994 at the Ghana School of Law. She holds a Master of Business Leadership (MBL) from the University of South Africa, Pretoria (2006), and a Master of Laws (LLM) from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Osei started as a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, from 1994 to 1995. Her legal career includes working for Laryea Company in Accra (1994–1997), serving as a Senior Legal Officer at the Ghana Commercial Bank (1997–2002), and part-time lecturing in commercial law at the university from 1997 to 2003. She held the position of General Counsel for Unibank Ghana from 2002 to 2005 and then became the founder and lead counsel for business lawyers at Prime Attorneys from 2005 to 2011. Osei chaired the National Commission for Civic Education from 2011 until 2015. In 2015, she was appointed chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, overseeing the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

In May 2019, the United Nations appointed Charlotte Osei as an International Non-Voting Electoral Commissioner to Afghanistan. In this role, she provided guidance on election-related regulations and policies, ensuring fair adjudication of complaints for electoral justice.

Awards and Recognition:

  • 1991: Volta Hall Award for Best Arts Results, First University Examinations, University of Ghana.
  • Received the ‘Women Of Courage’ award from Robert P. Jackson, the United States ambassador to Ghana.
  • Completed PPP Skills & Competency Development from the Institute for Public-Private Partnerships, Arlington, VA, USA (2009).
  • Earned Basic & Advanced Securities certifications in Securities Selling & Investment Advice from the Ghana Stock Exchange, Accra (1997).
  • Honored with the 1992 Ghana Bar Association Excellence award for LLB Final Examinations, University of Ghana.

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