News 21st November 2009

A progress report was presented with regard to the South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS). The Institute has been registered under the Societies Registration Act. Its inauguration was held on 13 October 2008 in the Spectra Convention Centre in the presence of Ambassador Madanjeet Singh and the former Chief Adviser and Chief Justice Mohammad Habibur Rahman. On this occasion Professor Deepika Udagama, Dean, School of Law University of Colombo also participated and addressed the gathering, which was attended by judges of the Supreme Court, academicians, lawyers, member of the diplomatic corps as well as a cross section of NGO and civil society leaders.

SAILS then organized, in cooperation with the French Embassy, a dialogue on "National and Regional Institutions for the Protection of Human Rights: Challenges for Bangladesh". The dialogue was addressed by the visiting French academics: Ms. Noemie Bienvenu, Legal Advisor to the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, France and Dr. Katarzyna Grabarczyk Senior Lecturer, University of Montpellier I, France as well as H.E. Charley Causeret, Ambassador of France; Dr. Shamsul Bari, UN Special Rapporteur for Somalia, Member, Governing Board, SAILS; Dr. Abdullah Al Faruque, Associate Professor, Chittagong University; Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; Ms. Sultana Kamal, Executive Director, Ain o Salish Kenra and former Adviser to the Care-taker Government: Dr. Faustina Pereira. Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh: Dr Imtiaz Ahmed. Professor, Department of International Relations, Dhaka University; Dr. Kanial Hossain, Chairperson, SAILS, Dr. Sharif Bhuiyan, Acting Director, SAILS and Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh.

Earlier a meeting of the Academic Committee of SAILS was held on 4 April, 2008 which was attended by senior law teachers of Bangladesh, and by Professor Madhava Menon, former Vice Chancellor of National Law School, Bangalore and Founding Director of National University of Juridical Sciences, Calcutta, who is currently Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

It was RESOLVED that the formation of the Academic Committee would he completed, with the addition of members from Nepal and Pakistan and additional members from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. The Academic Committee would be entrusted with drawing up of the curricula and formulating different courses, which would be offered in the course of the year.

It was noted that advertisements have been placed for the post of Executive Director, keeping in view the fact that appointment of a full time Executive Director and a core faculty drawn from the region should be given high priority. In the meantime courses of short duration between one to four weeks on specialized topics of relevance to the region could be promoted in a areas such as regulatory issues in the field of telecommunications, energy and environment, and also in the area of comparative constitutional law. SAILS would, in particular, focus on role of the Constitution and the law in promoting social and economic change, as also on the strengthening of the role of the judiciary and human rights institutions, national and regional.

In this background, a project had been formulated under the direction of Ambassador Toufiq Ali, who has recently retired as Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, after which he had served with the UNIDO in Vienna as Senior Adviser on Trade. He had also extensive experience of working with WTO and was actively involved in the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations. The Project aims to assess the impact of the Global Economic Crisis on countries of the South Asian Region and possible responses within this framework, with the initial study being centered around assessment of the impact of the global economic crisis on Bangladesh and possible responses.

Budget, Audit, Bank Account and Project Approval

The funds received by SAF as grant from the umbrella South Asia Foundation to the National Chapter has been received through a bank remittance to its Bank Account after completing necessary formalities under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. With regard to disbursement for SAF funds, it was noted that SAF received in addition to the grant for SAILS, remittance for office administration for carrying out of certain specific tasks. It is decided that disbursements be made by cheque for meeting necessary administrative and other authorized expenses as also expenses approved and authorized for SAILS.

It was RESOLVED that out of funds received for the year 2008 and 2009, US$ 50,000/- may be deposited in SAF's general account out of which US$ 35,000/- be transferred to SAILS account in BRAC Bank and the balance US$ 1,50,000/- be kept in a fixed deposit account at the best rate of interest available. It was RESOLVED that an auditor be appointed to provide audit reports for SAF and SAILS. An audit report may be obtained for the year 2008 to 2009 as early as possible. Accordingly, S.F. Ahmed & Co. be appointed as Auditors to SAF and SAILS on terms to be agreed.

An MOU has been signed by Ambassador Toufiq Ali on behalf SAILS with ERG. Dr. Toufiq Ali would be the Project Director of SAILS and it is hereby RESOLVED that Dr. Toufiq Ali be hereby authorized to receive necessary payments in connection with the Project and these be made out of the grant approved for it. It was RESOLVED that SAF approves the Project referred to in paragraph 4 for support with a grant of US$ 25,000 out of the funds received for the year 2008-2009. The draft budget for the year 2008-2009 be placed for approval by the Chairman and Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury.

Academic Committee (AC) Meeting of SAILS

The AC meeting of SAILS was held on the 7th April 2008, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the BRAC Centre Inn. The meeting was attended by persons from the administration of SAILS as well as other professionals and academicians with expertise in their respective fields. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Kamal Hossain, Chairperson, SAILS.

Dr. Kamal Hossain shared his rich inputs and experience during the course of deliberations which he summed up in the concluding part of the meeting in the following pertinent remarks. Dr. Hossain spoke about identifying a niche as it is relevant to the first issue of prioritization even though other priorities for SAILS have been identified. He questioned what would be the way to adopt if SAILS is to achieve anything in this year itself. He delineated certain criteria that emerged from the discussions. Firstly, the programs must have relevance to South-Asia as a whole rather than one country. Secondly, the programs must be such that they are absent elsewhere and in an area where SAILS can have a comparative advantage, such as- masters in energy law or e-commerce or e-law. Thirdly, courses offered must also act as a viable strategy in competing with other institutes in the region and have a competitive edge. Fourthly, the programs at SAILS should be such that they are able to establish its identity.

Prof. Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Vice Chancellor, BRAC University shared his valuable experience and comments with regard to the method of instruction and design of courses. He suggested that the interdisciplinary approach should be a feature of SAILS in its activities. He also stressed on continuing legal education in specialized tracks should as the theme to be adopted by SAILS for courses being offered. Prof. Choudhury also spoke about the series model and parallel model of courses in light of his experience with BRAC University.

Prof. Menon raised a host of points and expressed many issues in light of the agenda of the meeting. He began his valuable insights by highlighting on the different types of legal education. Professional Legal Education which is aimed at training lawyers and judges and which is essentially different obtaining to various issues according to the needs of the audience. He stressed that professional legal education should be the long term goal of SAILS. Another form is Academic Legal Education directed at producing academicians and researchers. The nature of degree catering to this category of legal education could be a B.A. or L.L.M. The third form would be Training of Paralegals. This sort of training is aimed at preparing the so-called `Barefoot Lawyers' who provide a host of services to the legal community. The fourth form could be termed as Public Legal Education or legal literacy. Lastly is Continuing Legal Education which is a very important category and should be taken into consideration by SAILS.

Academic Committee (AC) Meeting of SAILS

The AC meeting was held on 01 August 2009 at BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka and   02 August 2009 at Chamber Building, 122-124 Motijheel, Dhaka. The following points were discussed.

Proposal for the appointment of Executive Director

Search for appointment of Executive Director should be continued. It was noted that the advertisement did not result in adequate response from suitable individuals. Accordingly it is decided that Academic Committee members shall continue to explore their contacts and will propose names. Preference will be for someone from the South Asian region. The proposed candidate should preferably have a number of years of experience in legal teaching and research. However, there should be flexibility regarding eligibility of Executive Director.

It was decided to have an acting Executive Director for another year to replace Dr. Sharif Bhuiyan until a full time replacement can be found.

Dr. Mizanur Rahman was suggested for this role or for taking a role to lead the Certificate courses and the judicial colloquia which will be the programme for the next one year or so. Dr. Mizanur Rahman agreed to take the position. His terms and conditions will be finalized later. Dr Faizan Mustafa, Director of KIIT Law School, Bhubaneswar is unavailable. Professor Oladejo Jutus Olowu and Ms. Cynthia Stephen are to be invited to one of upcoming workshops. Will be asked whether they are interested in becoming faculty members/resource persons.

Suitably drafted letters to be sent to previous applicants.

Proposal for the appointment of faculty

Ms. Danielle Noble to be appointed as faculty subject to interview. Mr. Altafur Rahman and Mr. Utam Kumar Das to be contacted regarding possible full time / part time commitment as faculty members.

Appointment of Academic Committee members

Professor AFM Maniruzzaman, Professor of International and Business Law, University of Portsmouth has accepted invitation to become member of the Academic Committee. Ms. Sara Hossain (MA. Oxon), Barrister has accepted invitation to become member of the Academic Committee. Academic Committee should ideally comprise of members from all SAARC countries.

Letters of invitation to be sent to the following persons for joining the Academic Committee:

  • India/Singapore: (i) Justice Ruma Pal; (ii) Dr. Arun Thiruvengadam; (iii) Gangatri Chakrabarti
  • Nepal: (i) Mr. Yubraj Sangroula; (ii) Dr. Ananda M. Bhattarai.
  • Pakistan: (i) Dr. Abdul Hamid Khan; (ii) Ms. Asma Jahangir; (iii) Professor Asif Querishi
  • Sri Lanka: Professor Savitri Goonesekere
  • Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives: Current Academic Committee Members will search for suitable persons

Certificate course

It was decided to offer the following two Certificate programmes in parallel:

(i)Certificate course on “Theory & Practice of Clinical Legal Education”.
(ii)Certificate course on ADR.

The Certificate course on Theory & Practice of Clinical Legal Education will be for law teachers and the Certificate course on ADR will be for legal practitioners. Ideally there should be 25 persons in the courses. Two from each SAARC country and eleven from Bangladesh. Prof. Menon would request Prof. Nagraj to contact Dr. Mizanur Rahman and Dr. Mizan would finalize the curricula in consultation with Prof. Nagraj. The following further names were suggested by Prof. Menon:

  • Prof. Frank Bloch, Vanderbilt Law School
  • Prof. Clark Cunningham, University of Georgia

The duration for both Certificate courses will be 6 weeks and both will be held between 13 December 2009 to 21 January 2010.The Certificate courses will be offered jointly by BRAC University and SAILS. BRAC University certificate courses require 15 credits and 225 hours of instruction, which require a minimum of 6 weeks teaching. It was decided that the Savar Campus of BRAC University will be used for the Certificate courses. Possibilities for other Certificate courses were also discussed. The following were suggested:

(i) Regulatory Systems in South Asia (this could be held in July 2010) TERI could be a partner to develop the curriculum and provide faculty.
(ii) Legal process outsourcing Rainmaker could be a partner in this.

Judges Colloquia

It is decided to hold a 3-day judges colloquia on suitable dates in the period from February to March 2010. The theme of the colloquia will be “The Role of Judges in Implementation of Economic and Social Rights.” Prof. Menon will put Dr. Mizanur Rahman and Ms. Sara Hossain in touch with Judge Sandra Oxner of Commonwealth Judicial Training Institute for carrying forward the plans for judicial colloquia. While the colloquia will be held under the SAILS banner, the venue could be National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, India.

Curricula for Diploma Course and LL.M. Course

Curricula for Diploma Courses and LL.M. Courses will be given concrete shape in due course. It was noted that LL.M. course can be designed to train and create better teachers and it could also be directed towards practising lawyers.It was decided that LL.M. in Comparative Constitutional Law may be the first LL.M. programme to be offered by SAILS. Academic Committee member Dr. Deepika Udagama would prepare a broad outline for the LL.M. in Comparative Constitutional Law programme. As a general framework it was noted that the LL.M. in Comparative Constitutional Law should comprise the following topics:

  • Equality/State and religion/Liberty / Right to life/Governance (Judicial review and reform) / Access to justice/Representative governance/Freedom/Democratic accountability/Pluralism

In respect of the form of the LL.M. programme Prof. Menon suggested that distance method could be adopted. The LL.M. could required one or two months of classroom interaction/teaching and the rest of the component could be long distance research for which the student need not come to Dhaka. After the initial teaching semester, the student could be attached to a law school in his/her country of residence. The Academic Committee member from the relevant country would provide support in this regard. In this context, it would also be useful to enter into Partnership Agreements with law schools in South Asia.


Academic Committee member Prof. Madhava Menon would explore the possibility of seeking affiliation of SAILS with the SAARC University. It was decided that it would be good to have one intern from the SAARC region. It was decided to hold the next meeting of the Academic Committee in September 2009 in Delhi.

5th Governing Council Meeting of SAILS

The 5th Governing Council (GC) meeting of SAILS was held on 14th September, 2009 at 3.00 p.m. at BRAC University, 66 Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212. Dr. Kamal Hossain, Chairperson, SAILS, Prof. Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Dr. Shamsul Bari, Dr. Mizanur Rahman.( on invitation) and Ms Cécile Insinger. (on invitation) were present. The Following Agenda and the Resolutions were discussed:

The GC reviewing minutes of the Academic Committee meeting dated 1st and 2nd August and taking up follow-up decisions.

Appointment of Executive Director

Dr. Mizanur Rahman was warmly welcomed for joining as the Honorary Executive Director.

Appointment of Faculty

Ms Dianne Noble has been interviewed by a SAILS Panel and has been offered a part-time Fellowship for nine months for three days a week per October 2009. UNDP Bangkok is offering her a consultancy in Bangkok until January 2010 which implies that the organization of the SAILS Judicial Colloquia might be delayed until that time.

Appointment of Academic Committee Members

Former decisions were reviewed and few names were selected as co-opted member of the Academic Committee.

Dr. Professor David Weisbrodt from the University of Minnesota and Professor Stephen Marks from Harvard School of Public Health were proposed for the committee. Dr. Kamal Hossain and Dr. Shamsul Bari are going to approach them.

For regional Membership following persons were selected:

  1. Dr. Arun Thiruvengadam, India/Singapore
  2. Mr. Yubraj Sangroula ,Nepal
  3. Surya Psubedi, Nepal
  4. Dr. Deepika Udagam, Sri Lanka
  5. Sima Sumar, Afganistan (to be confirmed)

Dr. Kamal Hossain suggested that Prof. Madhava Menan  be approached to identify appropriate scholars for Afganistan, Bhutan and Maldives.

Proposed courses and Review of former course structure  

Comparative Constitutionalism for SAARC based on a comparative approach of study.

Implementation of Economic and Social Rights based on a comparative study proposed to be participated by the urban workers. Under the head of Regulatory Systems in South Asia it is proposed that Environmental Law and Specifically Energy Law or Energy Regulatory System of South Asia would be the first and foremost concern as a certificate course. Course content will be finalized in Delhi on specific discussions with related persons and also specific persons for specific course will be finalized on future meetings.

Recruitment of participants

For the recruitment of participants it is proposed that local chapters of the South Asian Foundation will be informed. Each country office will perform the recruitment of participant of that particular country.

Scholarship Fund and other expenses

It is proposed that scholarship fund would come from South Asian Foundation Fund and for other related expenses contributions from several sources would be coordinated and all of these would be agendas for the next meeting. Dr. Kamal Hossain suggested the local office would be informed for the maintenance of the expense procedure for participants of that particular country.

Budget for the courses

Proposed to be discussed on the next meeting which would be held probably on 25th September, 2009 at RIB, Banani. It was decided in the earlier meeting that Savar Campus of BRAC University would be the place for the Certificate Courses. Then Approval of the Academic Council of BRAC University is to be ensured by October, 2009 for Certificate Course Contents (Curriculum).

AC Meeting of SAILS at the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi

The AC meeting of SAILS was held in the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi on 17th September, 2009. Dr. Kamal Hossain, Chairperson, SAILS said that a pilot project: connecting scholars and teachers in the South Asian region with similar objectives and a 6 week course with not more than 30 people drawn from six countries

Prof. Dr. Madhava Menon, member, Commission on Center-State Relations, Vigyan Bhawan Annexe, New Delhi stated that SAILS: greater ambitions than this course itself: A SAARC level university in the field of law and legal studies for meeting the legal needs of the region; Whatever academic program is started by SALES, the emphasis should be on quality. The starting program will determine the credibility of the institute and the program in the future even willing to invite faculty from abroad for the program. Then he suggested the following steps to be taken: 

  • Finalize the resource persons and the syllabus. Resource persons to be utilized for both the courses : ADR for Practitioners and Teaching Skills for the teachers
  • 6 week duration of the course, 5 days a week.

Prof. Sengar said that the best people with less expense, but the problem is with connectivity and hire any campus in the world: two types of conference: the taped one, which is not very helpful, since one tends to forget and the other that can be remembered.

Objectives of the Course on ADR Read Out

Regarding the objectives of the course on ADR Read Out, Prof. Menon suggested:

  • The course should not consist of more than 5 topics in 6 weeks
  • The objectives have been institutionalized too much
  • Immediate objective: to attract the small district court practitioners, for whom learning the skills in ADR is the prime objective of undertaking the course
  • There is no legal framework for mediation and negotiation. India has a legal framework for arbitration though. But negotiation is the basic thing for ADR
  • Negotiation (dispute resolution and transaction) thus to occupy 1 week in the course
  • In the course objectives, the need to convey to prospective participants to get skills that are essential for development, and which they did not get during law school, namely, 1. Negotiation and, 2. Possibly mediation and arbitration
  • Arbitration, not to be given as much priority as negotiation

Dr. Hossain expressed that the lawyers practicing in the rural areas: most effective way of providing success stories. Prof. Menon informed the meeting that book published 15years back on Mediating 100 rural disputes by D.K. Sampat, very good.  Dr. Hossain said that, so no water-tight compartment between the rural and the urban lawyers: the idea is to have a simulated discussion and sharing of experience among them during such workshops. Prof. Nagaraj then talked on module and arbitration. Dr. Hossain also pointed out that in Bangladesh, the recent amendment to the Loan Recovery Act now provides for time for the creditor and the debtor to negotiate. The Japan experience on discussing in the judge’s chamber that would constitute unethical conduct can also be utilized as a cultural context issue.

Prof. Menon also said that, No need of the technicalities, but rather the emphasis should be on the technique: have only 4 modules: write out the minute content of each module in terms of skills, ethics and knowledge. Emphasis to be placed on teaching skills from the 1st session itself: impression that the course is skill-oriented and not so much of theory.

Continuing Legal Education Course Draft Circulated

Prof. Nagaraj explained the level and number of teachers, the experience needed for the job, supervision and marking system. Professor Menon incentive that will be attached with the certificate would be that the teachers would learn something in which they are experts. Dr. Hossain said that, the aim of the course ultimately must be that the participants would then be able to simulate others on the value of acquiring skills through the course. ILI and other law institutions in India could also contribute by means of having a regional knowledge base since India is not a resource for itself but for the entire region.

Dr. Kamal Hossain
Chairperson, SAF-Bangladesh Chapter