Exciting New Developments at the Leitner Center
The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School is delighted to announce that it is expanding its ongoing work related to African customary law. The Leitner Center has focused on human rights issues involving customary law in Africa in several of its annual human rights fact-finding projects and accompanying reports, including We Will Still Live: Confronting Stigma and Discrimination Against Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (2007); Gender Equality and Customary Marriage: Bargaining in the Shadow of Post-Apartheid Legal Pluralism (2006); and Promise Unfulfilled: Law, Culture and Women’s Inheritance Rights in Ghana (2001).
In October 2008, the Leitner Center convened a conference in Botswana bringing together academics, lawyers, judges, traditional leaders and human rights activists to consider the role of customary law in the 21st Century. This conference brought together over 40 speakers who discussed the nature and future of African customary law generally and with respect to particular topics of great importance, including property rights and succession, gender equality, criminal law, traditional courts, chieftancy and the application and codification of customary law. The Leitner Center is now working with Cambridge University Press to publish a book, The Future of African Customary Law, that will include revised versions of a number of the papers presented at the conference in Botswana. This focus on Africa customary law is unique among U.S. law schools and one that the Leitner Center is thrilled to be expanding through the publication of the book and new projects on the ground in Africa.
The Leitner Center is pleased to announce that Jeanmarie Fenrich will lead these efforts, including work on the Future of African Customary Law book and other new projects in Africa. Jeanmarie has served as Executive Director of the Center for the past four years, overseeing a substantial expansion in the work of the center during that time. In her new role, she will work on coordinating the Leitner Center’s already significant work in Africa and developing new projects. We are also pleased that, Liz Wickeri, 2008-09 Crowley Fellow in International Human Rights and experienced international human rights lawyer, has agreed to serve as the interim Executive Director for the 2009-10 academic year. Liz Recently led the highly successful 2009 Leitner Center project in Nepal documenting the impact of landlessness on fundamental human rights.
These new initiatives related to African customary law build on the extensive ongoing work of the Leitner Center in Africa, including SDLI training programs for members of the judiciary in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, the Ghanaian Police Prosecutor Training program, the Ghanaian Supreme Court Clerkship and Internship Program, the Great Lakes Regional Moot Court Competition in Rwanda, Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic Projects in Liberia, Malawi and Ethiopia, and funded student internships throughout Africa, among other projects.