Rule of Law and Development in Africa

This event was postponed: more as soon as we know when it will happen.

How can fighting corruption contribute to economic growth in Africa?  What legal problems do firms run into when investing in Africa’s booming economies, and what can be changed?Emily Strauss

Emily Strauss, Special Counsel, Lawyers Without Borders, will address these and other questions of development.

Emily Strauss is originally from Boulder, Colorado, and studied both English literature and economics at the College of William and Mary. She then joined the Peace Corps, and served as an education volunteer in northern Cameroon for two years. She subsequently worked in a law firm, and then left to teach for a year in Changsha, China. She received her J.D. and M.A. in International Relations from Boston University, and accepted a position with Ropes & Gray. She is currently doing a yearlong fellowship with Lawyers Without Borders before beginning work at the firm.

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One Reply to “Rule of Law and Development in Africa”

  1. Emily Strauss is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. The group in attendance was so intrigued by her, that the entire presentation digressed into a series of Q&A. Emily explained that she had never seriously consider law school and her attendance was a by-product of her time spent in Africa, at which point she recognized the lawlessness and the need to establish legitimacy. She explained how she ended up in Cameroon: having always had an interest in education, she chose to go through the Peace Corps application process over grad school paperwork. As a french speaker, she was assigned to West Africa, where she would speak with her colleagues and students in French, but teach English.

    In the two years Emily spent in her isolated village (with no water, electricity, pavement, health services, etc), she observed the effects of Cameroon’s large-scale corruption. Volunteers were forbidden to be outside after sunset as kidnappings for ransom were commonplace. Typically, local police would conspire with bandits by notifying them of when a car of people would be passing through and where. This would present an opportunity to kidnap the wealthy citizens (cattle owners). Other times, police would not demand bribes while threatening to charge or beat their victims. Emily also mentioned a military presence in Cameroon that is for protecting an oil pipeline that runs through the country. While she did not go into detail, it was clear that these “soldiers” were ones to steer clear of. This violence and distrust are a result of a corrupt government. Many officials (such as police officers) are promised a certain salary which is often not paid in full or at all. Bribery is turned to to compensate for the loss.

    Emily applies her education background at Lawyers Without Borders. The pro bono organization seeks to educate through detailed training programs and empower women (through productions in collaboration with other companies, such as MTV). The outreach and law education provided work to provide a basis for moving towards legitimacy, or creating a “rule of law.”

    In essence, I think that a better informed public will be able to oppose corruption, thus reducing leakages in the respective nation’s economy and restructure, slowly, but ultimately become more efficient.

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