First and foremost, I express my gratitude to the Almighty for the opportunity to serve as International President of our esteemed Federation. Our journey began on November 18, 2022, when we conducted our first in-person inauguration in Monrovia, the Republic of Liberia, since the Federation’s establishment. The inauguration was graced by the presence of Pioneer President H.E. Emmanuel Nwobodo, immediate past President H.E. Alfred Eli Kwasi Dei, and several executives such as Hon. Monica Tembo, Vice President-elect, Hon. Abigail Dawn Ampumuza – International Secretary General-elect, Hon. Odira Ezeh- Head of Diplomacy & External Affairs-elect, and Aunt- Ophelia Gotoe Nmah, Director of Finance-elect. Others joined us online. This was a wonderful start to our leadership tenure, and we sincerely thank Honorable Aunt – Ophelia Gotoe Nmah for leading this initiative.
PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION
Our leadership’s first priority was to build networks and partnerships. We accomplished this when the New York Law School agreed to partner with FALAS to establish the Racial Justice Project, which is still underway. We hope that the succeeding leadership will bring this project to fruition. Further, we established a partnership with AFRICA Legal to offer online courses and training to Falasites, a program that is progressing well.
We also forged a collaboration with the International Youth Fellowship, resulting in FALAS being represented at the 2023 IYF World Camp in Seoul, South Korea. The International Human Rights Commission has commended our work and has graciously accepted our invitation to serve as one of the Guest Speakers at our 2023 annual conference.
Our leadership has also partnered with the Independent Human Rights Group for North Africa to organize a conference on the good governance and development of Africa. This is being led by the President, Ambassador NAJi Moulay Lahsen, who is also one of the guest speakers for the 2023 annual conference. We have collaborated with the Private Sector Investment to organize a Moot Competition on AfFCTA (African Free Continental Free Trade Agreement), which is now in its final stages. Finally, we are partnering with the International Law Students Association to assist with organizing the JESSUP International Moot Competition. Information about the JESSUP Competition has already been disseminated.
We prioritized the strengthening and organization of our membership system. This goal was achieved when we launched our first ever Online Membership Portal led by our International Director for Membership, Honorable Oswald. This initiative also served as a way to generate funds for the Federation. We expanded our membership from 22 countries to 40 countries, meaning our leadership brought 15 new countries on board. Furthermore, we organized various WhatsApp groups to streamline the dissemination of information to our members.
Our leadership advocated for the release of the Secretary General of the FALAS South Africa Chapter, Mtshali, when his rights were grossly violated due to police brutality. We worked with the International Human Rights Commission near New York and the President of the Independent Human Rights Group for North Africa to secure his release. We also publicly condemned the unjustified war in Sudan and the coups in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, and other countries, calling for a return to the rule of law.
Our leadership organized numerous webinars aimed at empowering and enlightening our dear Falasites. Among these was the first webinar held by the International Directorate of Students’ Rights Federation of African Law Students on the topic: “The Unspoken Reality; Mental Health and Academic Abuse.” This important program addressed the common issues that students face concerning abuse/violation and mental health.
The three-day campaign culminated on February 18th with the theme: “My Abuse Story,” an interactive experience designed to educate young people on the subject matter and provide possible solutions and fundamental changes to these unspoken realities. The speakers were deeply committed to sharing their experiences and ideas to inspire and encourage African students to overcome common barriers and change their narratives.
The Directorate conducted several campaigns for Witz University in South Africa, including physical campaigns, social media campaigns, and webinars speaking on the issue of education, under the hashtags, “Education is a right, not a privilege.”
The FALAS Students Directorate launched their social mental health department, which included support groups. These groups cater to students’ mental health needs more intimately and actively, covering areas such as physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and depression and suicidal thoughts.
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023, the International Directorate of Students Rights in collaboration with The FALAS female forum, hosted a special program. The panelists, consisting of notable women figures in Africa, discussed the theme “The 21st Century Woman: Excelling and Overcoming Discrimination.” The session aimed to empower women on their leadership or career journey to face all discrimination head-on and excel.
On June 9, 2023, in collaboration with LAWSAN University of Abuja, we held a Continental Campaign Against Child Labour, advocating for a world where every child is unburdened by child labor, and education takes priority.
In commemoration of World Trafficking Day on July 30, 2023, the Federation of African Law Students, International Directorate of Students’ Rights organized a 3-day campaign against human trafficking. Human trafficking is a major issue in Africa, and we are committed to spreading awareness to all African students to look out for the signs of Human trafficking.
We incorporated French and Arabic languages for communication, accommodating FALASITES who are French and Arabic speakers. We also introduced a monthly presidential award series for cabinet members to boost morale and promote the success of the Federation.
We successfully held a FALAS talent competition for law students, awarding the winner with a cash prize of US$100.00. We advocated for Falasites to acquire knowledge in the field of law by partnering with a seminar hosted by the Lex Lata Centre for International Law and Comparative Constitutionalism in Africa. The seminar’s theme was “towards a global career in a globalizing world- Options for new and aspiring lawyers.”
For the first time, we produced the first edition of the FALAS International Magazine which captured most of the activities in our tenure.
Additionally, we partnered with Africa Legal to provide FALASITES with skills such as legal writing, fundamentals of effective negotiation, and honing effective communication skills.
In conclusion, we have made significant strides during this term, and I am confident that the Federation will continue to grow and make a meaningful impact.