Vance Center Engages at Pan African Lawyers Union Conference in Zambia
In early July, Vance Center Africa Program Director Adaobi Egboka traveled to Zambia to explore new programmatic opportunities, meet with existing and prospective partners, and attend the annual Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) conference.
Africa Program Director Adaobi Egboka with representatives from the Congolese Bar Association. Photo credit: PALU
The conference, held in Livingstone, Zambia, and attended by bar leaders, legal practitioners, NGO leaders, donors, and judges from over 35 countries, featured discussions centered on three key thematic areas: Public Interest and Development Law, Legal Practice, and Business Law. PALU, a continental membership forum that includes dozens of African national lawyers associations and more than 500 individual lawyers, aims to advance the law and the legal profession, rule of law, good governance, human and peoples’ rights and socio-economic development of the African continent.
Egboka was among a slate of speakers who offered solidarity remarks to open the event, along with guests representing the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association, Bar Association of India, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), the National Bar Association (USA), the German Federal Bar, and other regional and international groups. In her remarks, Egboka highlighted the ongoing partnership between the Vance Center and PALU, noted the impact of PALU’s work on the continent, and reaffirmed the Vance Center’s commitment to collaborating with PALU and other regional partners to strengthen the legal profession and the rule of law in Africa.
She also spoke on a panel entitled “Women, the Law and Justice: Scaling up the advocacy,” joining other panelists Linda Kosonde, CLA’s Vice President for Africa; Lulu Ng’wanakilala, Chief Executive Officer of Tanzanian basket fund Legal Services Facility; and Chikondi Chijozi, Head of the Criminal Justice Program at the Southern Africa Litigation Center and a commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission. The panelists analyzed challenges and strategies around advocating for women’s rights within regional legal and justice systems, including through initiatives to promote and support women’s achievements in the legal profession, such as the Vance Center’s Women in the Profession (WIP) and Advancing Women in the Workplace programs. The discussion concluded with panelists’ recommendations to bar associations, private sector practitioners, and women’s groups on opportunities to leverage potential partnerships and collaboration to scale up advocacy for women’s rights and leadership in the legal profession.
Other conference sessions covered a broad range of topics, including trends in freedom of expression and digital rights; experiences in protecting and promoting civic space in Africa; the role of lawyers in implementing decisions of African and international courts and tribunals; notable developments in arbitration and mediation; emerging trends and evolving jurisprudence in climate litigation; the benefits of membership in international and regional bar associations and law firm alliances, and much more.
While in Zambia, Egboka also met with local bar association leaders, law firms, and representatives of donor organizations and civil society groups, as well as the deputy chief justice of Zambia. The week’s events offered an ideal opportunity for the Africa Program to continue building partnerships in the region and find more ways to strengthen the legal profession, support civil society, and promote and provide pro bono legal support to civil society organizations and institutions.