The promotion of development has been one of the main concerns of the international community for the past sixty years. There is, however, wide-ranging debate on the success of the initiatives undertaken so far to promote development and poverty eradication. While poverty rates have fallen worldwide, 50% of the global population still lives on less than $2/day, prompting critical questions about how best to continue positive trends in growth and poverty reduction. In particular, Africa has been and remains a special challenge and focus of the international community, with some of the widest disparities and most severe poverty in the world.
Africa has the highest rates of extreme poverty worldwide, with 47% of its population currently earning less than $1.25 a day. Health, education, nutrition, and protection of the environment are major challenges as well. In spite of massive foreign aid assistance and extensive development efforts since the mid-20th century, African governments and people continue to struggle. The International Law and Development in Africa (ILDA) clinic, directed by Professor Paolo Galizzi, is designed to expose students to the realities and challenges of development work, through the development of hands-on projects in partnership with African law students. Jeanmarie Fenrich, Director of Special Projects – Africa, and Alena Herklotz, Levinson Fellow in International Law of Sustainable Development co-supervise.
The seminar portion of the clinic introduces students to the theory and practice of international development law. With guest lecturers from experts in the field of development, students study the history and modern development of the countries in which they will be working; as well as such practical skills as project research and design, stakeholder consultation, interview techniques, and proposal drafting and development. For the fieldwork component, participants are assigned to teams to research and design a concrete development project. The same course is taught simultaneously at partner law schools in Africa, and each team of Fordham Law students is partnered with a team of African law students to develop a project, with the opportunity to travel to Africa for one week mid-semester to meet their African teammates in person and take part in project planning/implementation on the ground. Partnering with African law professors, non-governmental organizations, and government and private actors, the teams have the chance to apply what they have learned in seminar through their very own small-scale, sustainable project.
Past and ongoing projects in Ghana, West Africa, include:
- Establishing the first clinical legal education program in West Africa, with projects to provide legal education and services for marriage registration and will drafting in rural communities; and alternative dispute resolution training for village chiefs so that their decisions may be recognized by the formal law system.
- Intervening on behalf of remand prisoners in the Ghanaian penal system - prisoners who have not met or are ineligible for bail and are awaiting trial - to recontruct their case files, determine their case status, and work with the judicial system to establish courts in the prisons to hear cases and release those whose warrants have expired.
- Increasing Ghanaian use and awareness of the 2000 U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which waives duties on over 1,800 product lines for Sub-Saharan Africa, by creating, staffing and resourcing a permanent AGOA resource center and workshop series for government officials and private exporters.
- Increasing knowledge and understanding of patient’s rights and redress mechanisms in Ghana’s healthcare system, through educational workshops; publications; and a large-scale survey of patient experiences with the existing complaint mechanisms.
Application to participate in the ILDA Clinic is through the main Fordham Law Clinical Legal Education program. Please visit the CLE website for details.