UNESCO Madanjeet Singh South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (UMSAILS) aims to be a regional center of excellence in South Asia in legal and human rights education, training and research.
During 2012, it has undertaken various activities with include seminar, training programes and publications.
It has initiated to launch its first academic course from September 2013‐ a Master of Laws (LL.M.) programme with concentration in South Asian Comparative Law, which is expected to promote regional integrity.
UMSAILS has launched a Human Rights Law Clinic (HRLC), first of its kind in Bangladesh, in 2012 with an aim to provide a platform for students of law and human rights for providing them clinical orientation to their respective areas of interest. It is to offer mentoring to future academics, practitioners and activists.
Is also going start construction works of its on building on land donated by BRAC; it is a great courtesy of BRAC’s Founder and Chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed. UMSAILS remains ever grateful to him and his organization for this valuable donation. Sir Abed is on the Governing Council of UMSAILS.
However, to run training and other activities with a very limited number of staffs and heavily depending on volunteers and interns remains challenging always. We are grateful to our volunteers and interns for their valuable contributions to the Institute. And, the Institute is also providing them a place to learn by doing which will hopefully be helpful for their future career.
With launching of new academic programme in 2013 and challenges ahead, UMSAILS looks forward to the bright and courageous future generations of legal and human rights professionals in the region who will be pro‐people and pro‐justice.
UNESCO Madanjeet Singh South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (UMSAILS) aims to be a regional centre of excellence through undertaking research works and offering post‐graduate education in South Asian law and human rights. Its mission is to further the potential of South Asia in legal education, research and scholarship and to impart knowledge and the skills that are necessary to confront the new challenges of this era.
It is sponsored by the South Asia Foundation (SAF), which is founded by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh. SAF has been recognized as an Apex Body of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). SAF Bangladesh Chapter is headed by Eminent Jurist Dr. Kamal Hossain and Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury is the Vice Chairperson.
UMSAILS (renamed in 2012, and registered so far as the South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies, which needs to be changed) is registered in Bangladesh as a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. It has an agreement with BRAC University for purposes of conferment of degrees as well as academic cooperation in other related matters. It has developed networks with related academics and professional institutions in the region and beyond.
UMSAILS has undertaken series of programmes in 2012. Those include training and workshops on legal and human rights issues, public lectures, seminars, hosting students from other countries, publications and networking.
UMSAILS aims to generate and promote skills and expertise among respective persons and professionals.
With this aim in view, it has organized three sessions on Legal Research and Writing. Among them, the first session span over two days (9‐10 March) and the next two programmes span over a day (9 April and 30 June).
The Course aims to train law students and young legal academics on objective, methodology and process of legal research and writings.
It has drawn a good attention and responses from concerned audiences. In three sessions, a total of 69 individuals participated. Among them, 32 (48%) are female and 37 are male.
The course has been able to generate a significant level of understanding among the participants on importance and process of legal research and writings.
The Guest Resource Persons for the course included among others Professor Mizanur Rahman, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, Professor Abdullah Al Faruque, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Chittagong, Dr. Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge of Dhaka, Dr. Tureen Afroz, Associate Professor at the School of Law at BRAC University and Mr. Zahid Hossain, National Expert on Monitoring and Investigation, UNDP Capacity Development Project to the National Human Rights Commission. Dr. Uttam Kumar Das, Deputy Director of UMSAILS has directed and coordinated the program.
UMSAILS has initiated a Human Rights Law Clinic (HRLC) in July 2012. It is to provide a platform for training and mentoring for Student‐Volunteers (of Law, Human Rights and allied disciplines); the areas of focus are analysis, research and writing, pro bono human rights works and legal services, legal and judicial activism among other issues.
The HRLC aims to train a pool of new‐generation activists, lawyers, practitioners, academics and researchers with required analytical, writing and presentation skills and pro‐active attitudes for promotion and protection of human rights.
The Volunteers are attending academic and practical sessions of legal and human rights issues and working on their individual and/or group projects (e.g., writing a research paper, preparing legal brief and memos, working with a community, running blogs etc.).
The resource persons, trainers and mentors for the HRLC are renowned jurist, legal academics, practitioners, and activists who included Dr. Kamal Hossain, Professor Mizanur Rahman, Professor Abdullah Al Faruque, and Barrister Sara Hossain among others. Apart from that visiting experts are also invited to conduct sessions and workshops. Dr. Uttam Kumar Das, UMSAILS Deputy Director coordinates and directs the activities of HRLC.
For the first batch, 17 Volunteers have been selected on a competitive basis given their motivations for human rights work and availability for voluntary works. The duration of a batch is six months. In January 2013, a new batch will join for their six months training and mentoring.
In general, legal education in Bangladesh does not provide any orientation to students on clinical legal education and offer or facilitate any opportunity for pro‐bono legal and human rights works. However, there are few NGOs who are offerings internships to students; however, those lack a proper standard and guidance (with exception).
Thus, the HRLC will be able promote the concept of Clinical Legal Education here and aims to turn to a model center for law schools in Bangladesh.
For the list of the Volunteers please see the annex.
UMSAILS hosts visiting students and faculty members from foreign institutions to orient them on legal and human rights issues related to Bangladesh.
This year, it has organized a roundtable on “International Issues and Bangladesh” on 19 March 2012 for visiting group of 12 students of International Law and Organizations Programme and three faculty members from Johns Hopkins University, U.S.A.
It brought together experts from Bangladesh for exchanging views on issues of their common expertise and interests.
The visiting group also attended a seminar on legal education in Bangladesh organized by the School of Law, BRAC University and facilitated by UMSAILS.
UMSAILS has organized a series of public lecture on the issue of law and human rights. These aim to facilitate relevant experts and practitioners to share their knowledge and expertise with local law students, legal academics, researchers and practitioners. (Please refer to the list annexed with the report for details).
UMSAILS has been offering internship opportunities ranging from three to six months to students and fresh graduates interested to work in the area of human rights, programme management and office administration.
The programme aims to assist them to learn about research works, organizing seminars and workshop, contemporary legal and human rights issues, general administration work and managing an office etc.
In 2012, following individuals have worked with UMSAILS‐ Nipa Rani Roy (Eastern University, Dhaka), Srabani (Stamford University Bangladesh), Nilufa Yasmin (Eden Women’s College), Tushar Dey Mondal (Tejgaon Government College), and Akramul Islam (University of Dhaka).
UMSAILS has undertaken three separate studies pertaining to the personal laws of Muslims, Hindus and Christians.
These studies, undertaken with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dhaka, were part of a project called Combating Gender Injustices (CGI).
UMSAILS (formerly SAILS) is also publisher of those as books. The studies were formally released at a launching ceremony in Dhaka on 10 April 2012.
Professor Mizanur Rahman, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and Professor M. Shah Alam, Chairman (Acting) of the Law Commission were present as the Guests of Honour. Development Activist, Ms. Khushi Kabir chaired the session.
An audience of 40 representing community leaders from respective religions, researchers, academics and activists attended the programme.
Title of the study reports:
Custody and Guardianship (Nowrin Tamanna, Muhammad Amirul Haq and Sara Hossain, 2011).
UMSAILS aims to be a Regional Law University in future. To that aim in view, it has been designing curriculum initially for two academic programmes: Master of Laws (LL.M.) in South Asian Comparative Law, and Master of Arts in Human Rights and Development. Renowned academics and experts from Bangladesh and other Countries have been assigned to design the curriculum.
UMSAILS is now preparing to launch its first academic programme‐ Master of Laws (LL.M.) from September 2013. The programme will have a focus on South Asian Comparative Law.
The Institute has an agreement with BRAC University, an enterprise of the world largest NGO, BRAC, which will be supervising academic programmes and issuing certificates.
It will be a one‐year long and 36 credit‐hours course. The qualification for admission will be graduation in Law (with minimum four‐year duration and CGPA 3.5). However, details are yet to be approved by the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh
In the initial batches, UMSAILS plans to offer 16 full scholarships to students (two for each SAARC member countries).
UMSAILS will soon initiate to recruit full‐time and part‐time faculty members to run the programme. It aims to invite guest faculties from renowned institutions abroad to teach for a semester or so.
An announcement shall be issued regarding student admission early next year through affiliates and networks of South Asia Foundations, websites and newspapers.
UMSAILS also aims to launch a Master of Human Rights and Development Programme in future.
Two meetings of the Governing Council of UMSAILS held this year, respectively on 01 May and 12 September 2012. Both the meeting was chaired by the Chairperson of the Governing Council, Dr. Kamal Hossain.
The meeting on 01 May 2012 has unanimously endorsed the new name of the Institute as UNESCO Madanjeet Singh South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (UMSAILS).
It also endorsed a note of appreciation for Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and BRAC for their generous donation of 0.37 acre of land to the Institute for academic building and ancillary facilities at Khagan, Savar in the District of Dhaka.
UMSAILS programme and activities got a significant publicity in national newspapers in Bangladesh. The newspapers included The Daily Star, The Daily Sun, The New Age, Daily Prothom Alo, Daily Jugantor, PROBE News Magazine etc.
UMSAILS has been able to create an working networks with related institutions in Bangladesh; those include law schools, statutory institutions like the National Human Rights Commission and Law Commission, UN agencies and human rights organizations and related professional bodies.
To be connected with students, volunteers and interested audiences, UMSAILS has been active in e‐communications though websites, blogs and facebook pages. Those interactive communications drawn attention of students and interested audiences.