The quest for Access to Justice through the establishment of an African Centre of Excellence aims to develop a place, that will not only serve as a memorial to the struggles for social justice of South Africa’s people, but will serve to carry forward the traditions of African and international practices and thought-leadership in how best to craft a vision of a society that upholds human dignity and affords justice beyond the narrow legal conceptions to the most vulnerable sectors of society.
Access to Justice in Africa – The African Centre of Excellence
Building on the many milestones achieved towards revitalizing and initiating processes for the institutionalization of a vibrant Community Advice Officer (CAO) sector, and, following intensive discussions regarding how best to sustain the heritage of and a future of CAOs as agents of social justice that promote an agenda of social transformation that elevates principles of constitutionalism and human rights, Nadcao and its partners conceived of layering upon the Dullah Omar School, a new African Centre of Excellence for community based paralegals. This Centre will draw from lessons from study trips and discussions with fraternal organizations in the United Kingdom, Malawi, Kenya, The Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Australia and other countries.
South Africa has been a leading force in access to justice programmes that focus on marginalized and vulnerable communities and has shared its approaches and methodologies generously with other African states, and became a useful learning platform for most of the community based paralegal programmes that have resonated in the African continent over the past two decades.
It is through this understanding of South Africa’s obligation to the African continent that both Nadcao and ACAOSA, have to continue to play a leading role in advancing South Africa’s progress and challenges with other African states. It is therefore the intention that the Centre will be designed to serve as a landing base for comparative learning for primarily African legal empowerment programmes as well as international programmes. The Centre will continuously play a role in hosting international exchange guests from collaborating countries and/or institutions.
It is also envisaged that whilst epitomizing South Africa’s quest for justice for all, the Centre will be internationalist in character as it seeks to celebrate and bring lessons and experiences from efforts in other parts of the world that have gone the furthest mile in keeping the flag of the legal empowerment and access to justice flying, with specific bias and emphasis on African indigent knowledge about justice and redress. A special and dedicated space will be created for African legal empowerment programmes to share their lessons and the significant developments of community based paralegal programmes in their own countries. In the initial instance, Malawi and Sierra Leonie will play a significant role in defining a programme for African experiences in community-based paralegals.