Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Impact in Burundi

Wow. It is always good to hear that Global Rights is having an impact. So I was particularly pleased when we received an email from Steven Goldberg a volunteer with the International Senior Lawyers Project who co-facilitated our Strategic Litigation workshop in Burundi last week. Here is a bit of what he wrote about the impact of our training:

"I wanted to give you a brief update from Burundi, at least from my perspective.

This is obviously an extraordinarily ambitious program. You are educating people about international law, you are getting them to think about how to apply principles underlying that body of law in their own countries to specific legal problems, and how to do that strategically.

The trainers you've chosen -- all African -- are terrific. Knowledgeable, experienced, and totally committed to this work.

...The skills part of the training has been useful on several levels. It has made people think about the practicalities of doing this work: When working with communities, how do legal issues get defined, how does the lawyer avoid letting his or her own biases define the work as opposed to the people he's representing, who is the client when dealing with groups of people, how do you create trust with your clients to facilitate disclosure of the facts you need to litigate, how can the work be done in such a way that empowers the client. These are not necessarily issues and skills people think about as they train to become lawyers, and then practice law but really are important whether you are doing divorces or large impact cases.

Steven Goldberg at the Strategic Litigation workshop
We've also tried to do this part of the training in a way that gets the participants actively involved, and that's been a success. People have been actively involved, willing to participate in role-plays, filled with questions and comments. We've had to be flexible about how to do this. But my sense from the participants is that they are enjoying the training and finding it valuable.

...Now being home, the impact of this experience on me has been significant -- apart from the training and cases. The participants in the workshop were amazing people: so committed, bright, willing to take significant risks challenging their various governments in cases challenging human rights violations.

I left Africa this time with a sense of perspective that change takes time. I also have optimism about the future given the amazing people I met.

Thanks so much for this experience."

- Steven Goldberg, Attorney at Law

I am glad to know that our USAID-funded program is helping to build lasting legal skills that will have long-term impact on strengthening participation in rule of law.  Click here to read more about our strategic litigation workshop. 

- Susan

Posted by Susan M. Farnsworth

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Your Country Needs You”: A General’s Words of Encouragement in Afghanistan

“As a judge I can say, you are the kind of people I would like to see representing someone in the court,” U.S. Brigadier General Dixie Morrow said to 30 of our Legal Fellows in Kabul.

“I know one of the things this program will train you to do is to provide defense services to the people of Afghanistan who need you the most. I have lived my life to serve the public in my country and I am hopeful you will do the same.  Your country needs you."

Global Rights Legal Fellows with BG Morrow
This Global Rights’ training session was special. It’s not every day that a female Brigadier General addresses our Legal Fellows. The U.S. Embassy’s Acting Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement Brigadier General Dixie Morrow recently shared her legal and public service career with 30 of our Fellows during a training on research in the law.

She discussed the importance of criminal defense and the value of public service.  She then asked the Fellows to tell her about their experiences working at local Afghan organizations.

Some of the Legal Fellows shared their proudest achievements – for example providing legal assistance to women, redrafting bylaws, and helping rural farmers understand their rights. Brigadier General Morrow was impressed by what these young men and women were doing to improve the Afghan justice sector for their fellow citizens fresh out of school.  

We want to thank BG Morrow for taking time out of her busy day to learn more about the good work our Legal Fellows are doing and share her words of encouragement.  We need to continue investing in Afghanistan’s next generation.  Our Legal Fellowship Program gives recent law graduates confidence and skills to support and strengthen justice in their country.  I am confident that one of them one day will be Afghanistan’s General Morrow.

- Susan

If you want to help support our amazing Legal Fellows and their work, you can make a tax deductible contribution here.

Posted by Susan M. Farnsworth