Blog Post Author: Dr. Bernadette Rainey
As a human rights lecturer in Cardiff Law School, I travelled to UNAM to consult with the UNAM Law faculty on possible collaboration to further the aims of the Phoenix Project. The aim was to establish the possibility of collaboration on capacity building within the law faculty that could also lead to positive impacts on human rights awareness and application in civil society. I was given a fantastic welcome by the staff of the faculty and UNAM in general and was well supported by Nicola Pullman and Jennifer Lloyd from the Phoenix project.
I met with the Dean of the Law Faculty, Professor John Baloro and the Director of the Human Rights Documentation Centre, Dr. Chiku Mchombu. We discussed areas of possible collaboration that would have discernible impact and benefit for both law schools and beyond. We established several areas of possible collaboration including curriculum design at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, training for indigenous groups and schools, and a focus on human rights issues including disability, gender and land rights. We also discussed the possibility of staff/student exchanges.
I was also able to meet with current and former UNAM law students and staff. These meetings proved to be useful in establishing common themes for prioritising areas of collaboration. For example, the need for capacity building in the area of disability was something that was emphasised across all discussions as well as staff/student exchanges. I was fortunate to be able to have meetings with Non-Government Organisations which play an important role in human rights awareness and protection in Namibia. The Ombudsman for Namibia, Advocate John R Walters, and the Director of the Legal Assistance Centre, Toni Hancox gave me some valuable insights into the priorities for human rights education and protection in Namibia, which also echoed some of the issues raised within the law faculty in UNAM.
Dr. Mchombu also gave me a tour of the Human Rights Documentation Centre in UNAM. This is a valuable resource for students, staff and the public and we discussed ways in which we could possibly collaborate to increase its capacity.
The scoping trip also provided some useful insight that Cardiff Law School could benefit from. The Legal Aid Clinic in the UNAM Law Faculty is compulsory for all final year students, is credit bearing and includes a community impact report.
Cardiff Law School has its own award winning Pro Bono Unit providing free legal services in several distinct areas. However it is extra-curricular. The UNAM model is something we can reflect upon as Cardiff law School reviews its curriculum in the future.
It is hoped that further discussion can take place and that the Law and Human Rights project can develop into a successful collaboration with discernible positive impacts on human rights awareness and protection both in Namibia and in Wales