USAID has been very happy to partner with the American Bar Association and the Addis Ababa University Law School in the development and publication of five legal textbooks authored by Ethiopian legal experts. I am especially proud of this collaboration since this is the first set of textbooks to be revised in 40 years. This is a remarkable and commendable achievement. I congratulate the authors who are faculty at Addis Ababa University and St. Mary's College--Ato Getachew Assefa, Ato Muradu Abdo, Ato Elias Stebek, Ato Wondwossen Demissie and Ato Fikremarian Merso.
I'd like to congratulate, too, the ABA and the Country Director, Ato Mandefrot Belay, for implementing this and other important activities in support of Legal Education in Ethiopia over the last four years. The publication of these textbooks represents a culminating accomplishment of this project. They will be used at 18 law schools all over Ethiopia. Let me highlight other joint accomplishments of the Rule of Law Initiative project which was designed to improve the quality of education and strengthen teaching and research capacity of law schools.
Under the project, we have been able to:
1) conduct and disseminate a nationwide legal education review;
2) provide hundreds of law textbooks to the Ministry of Education;
3) sponsor a national moot court competition;
4) support legal aid programs at Addis Ababa and Hawassa Universities that served those most in need or most vulnerable; some 1,200 clients received counseling and legal representation by volunteer faculty; and
5) provide teaching support in areas where American faculty expertise complemented that of Ethiopian faculty here at Addis Ababa University. Over the last year, we brought in two faculty members to teach intensive courses and one law school dean to mentor the Administration of the Institute of Human Rights in designing graduate studies in law.
We have sponsored one senior professor to help set standards for internships outside the university in consultation with faculty and other justice stakeholders for standardized implementation in the coming years. These proposed standards will be presented to you formally at a workshop in the coming months. Finally, I am pleased to say that one additional faculty member will come to teach advanced research methodology to both graduate students and junior faculty here.
In addition to these formal activities, a group of us at USAID and the Embassy, who hold Doctors of Jurisprudence, were able this past year to volunteer our services and teach a course in legal writing. I myself was part of this team and enjoyed and also benefitted from the experience. My colleague, Warren Leishman, our USAID legal advisor, also participated and is here with us today. A third colleague who joined us, Jason Martin, the US Embassy cultural attaché, has since left Ethiopia for a new post.
So it is not only as a representative of the American people , but also as a beneficiary of a legal education that I am so pleased to join you here today and to handover these new textbooks to educate a whole new generation of advocates for the rule fo law, a key pillar of any nation's advancement and a cornerstone of peace and prosperity.
I urge you to use your education to defend and promote the rule of law and above all, to strive for the ultimate goal of access to justice for all. A legal education can serve you in whatever profession you ultimately choose: teaching, government or diplomacy, business, or civil society endeavors.
This year, USAID is celebrating 50 years of operations in Ethiopia and around the world. In know you will celebrate your 50th anniversary in the coming year. Since our operations began in Ethiopia in 1962, the U.S. Government and specifically, USAID, have historically and a great relationship with Addis Ababa University. This law school was founded with the participation of American faculty in 1963 and, as you all know, even while Ethiopian jurisprudence is modeled after the European legal system, its legal education is patterned more after the American common law system. During Emperor Haile Selassie's reign, American professors were an integral part of the faculty here, the late James C.N. Paul, Dean of the Law School at Rutgers University, with his bust at the entrance of this building. This is to highlight our long cooperation, one that I am confident will continue in the future.
In closing, I extend my wish for your continued success in the coming years to promote quality legal education and dedicated, ethical lawyers essential to assist the governing of a peaceful and prosperous society; one that respects the rule of law and promotes justice. I am confident that you young and energetic intellectuals, who in the United States we call "legal eagles," will not wait another forty years to publish again and that you will contribute to the evolution of Ethiopia's legal system in keeping with its growth and transformation.
Thank you very much and best wishes for the Ethiopian New Year and for the start of the school year.
Last updated: January 21, 2015