The South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS) was launched yesterday with a view to promoting higher legal education and ensuring human rights and the rule of law in the region.
The institute will collaborate with legal education institutes and bring the great minds together to improve the legal system in the region, legal experts said at the launching ceremony of SAILS at Spectra Convention Centre in the capital.
The institute, being set up under the auspices of South Asian Foundation, has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Brac University to collaborate in launching postgraduate programmes and understaking research work in the field of legal and human rights studies.
Speaking as the chief guest, Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman, former chief adviser to a caretaker government, said the institute having intra-disciplinary features will focus on different forms of solution mechanism that require less confrontation in the legal system.
"This is a great day that we are launching a great institute. We expect it to be a centre of excellence," he said.
Founder Chairman of South Asia Foundation Madanjeet Singh said the culture of upholding human rights and tolerance is very important for South Asia and that only the issue of terrorism has recently undermined the region's image.
"We want to have common norms... we are basically trying to be united like that of the European Union. Secular guidelines and unity will take us forward," said Singh, who is also Unesco Goodwill Ambassador.
He said Bangladesh is going through a critical time now but will have a flourishing democracy soon.
Eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain, chairman of SAILS, said, "We hope that the institute will become a centre of excellence in the region where we can together devise solutions to problems facing all of us."
The institute will also enable lawyers to use the law as an instrument to ensure social and economic justice for all, he added.
Dr Deepika Udagama, head of the Department of Law at University of Colombo, said there is a huge gap in legal education and that more cooperation and higher education can surely help come closer and face challenges like alleviation of poverty, gender equality and elimination of extremism.
Brac University Vice Chancellor Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury also spoke.