Jan Michiel Otto (1952) is professor of Law and Governance in Developing Countries and director of the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Development. He studied law at Leiden University and specialised in development administration at both Leiden University and VU University Amsterdam.
After having worked at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in various research assignments, he became director of the Van Vollenhoven Institute in 1983. In 1987 he defended a dissertation entitled Aan de voet van de piramide: overheidsinstellingen en platttelandsontwikkeling in Egypte, (At the foot of the pyramid, state institutions and rural development in Egypt). He has published extensively on various topics of law and administration in developing countries, including Indonesia, China, Egypt and South Africa. In recent years he has published on issues of good governance, as well as on comparative sharia and national law in the Muslim world.
Professor Otto teaches a number of interdisciplinary courses on law, governance and development; the VVI provides training to professionals, a.o. of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has acted as project leader in research projects concerning Indonesian environmental law and land law, Indonesian courts, the Indonesian national human rights commission, law-making and legal transformation in China, implementation of law in China, law and traditional authority in South Africa, customary law and chiefs in Ghana, sharia and national law in twelve Muslim countries, access to justice and institutional development in Libya, assessing legislation for Libya's reconstruction, supporting primary justice in South Sudan and Afghanistan.