I returned last week from committee meetings of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) at their annual meeting in Calgary. Having reached the 6-year maximum term for service on the CBA International Development Committee (IDC), I wanted to mention the IDC’s good work and make readers more generally aware of what that they do (particularly in light of the recent, negative “lawyers are rats” media coverage). There are also a number of ways in which CBA members can get involved.
The mission of the IDC is to promote the rule of law in developing and transitional countries. Their funding for overseas projects comes from external sources, such as the Canadian International Development Agency. There is a small but dedicated internal staff at the CBA but many of their overseas projects involve CBA members who volunteer their time and services. There are a number of current projects being overseen by the IDC, including:
There are also of number of other projects. In particular, the IDC has been quite active in various regions in Africa in the last decade, including being a major partner to supporting a constitutional litigation unit at the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa regarding litigation over right to shelter, the right to privacy, equality for women, the right for children to be free from arbitrary detention and so on.
In addition, there was also an excellent internship program that had young Canadian lawyers being placed at NGO’s and legal clinics with some of our partners in Africa and South East Asia, although it appears that funding for that program is in jeopardy.
I was fortunate enough to attend on two missions in Africa; in addition, as a Committee member, it is very rewarding to hear the positive stories from our partners on the concrete and positive impact some of this work is having.
For members of the CBA, you can register on an online resource databank – see the IDC’s “Getting Involved” page (as of last week, though, the databank was being upgraded and was not immediately available).