Monday, May 14, 2012

Pro Bono in Liberia

I have been a volunteer senior legal advisor with the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) since 2010. This organization was founded in New York in 2001 and now has branches in London (UK) and Paris. Its mission is to provide legal assistance through "senior" (i.e., retired or about to retire) lawyers to lesser developed countries around the world in need of such help.

Last year, I travelled to Liberia in February and March to assist the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I worked with the Deputy Minister, Legal Affairs to help her with various legal issues facing the Ministry. This year I will be working with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on a project to achieve Liberia's accession to the WTO. My role is to assist the Ministry in identifying which of the country's commercial and trade laws need to be revised, or drafted from scratch, in order to meet WTO standards, and then to assist in making the necessary changes to such laws.

My objective in travelling to and working in Liberia is to try to help with the economic recovery that is so essential to the future of that country and to the well-being of its people. Liberia is one of Africa's most impoverished nations, with an unemployment rate of approximately 75%. In 2003, it emerged from a 14-year civil war that left its people economically and psychologically scarred, and with the country having little or no infrastructure. Since then, Liberia has transformed into a democracy. Its elected president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been in power since 2006 and she will remain in power for another 5 years, having been re-elected in November, 2011 for another term.

My objective in writing this blog is to provide updates on the work I will be doing in Liberia and also to give a sense of what life is like in that country.

Google map of Liberia:

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