While the provision of bono legal support in general is a wonderful thing, the model utilised by the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) to promote the rule of law and advance sustainable development is impactful on a global scale in unique ways, says Sara Lulo.
“We partner with local decision makers and stakeholders – primarily in Africa and parts of Latin America and Asia – such as governments, civil society organisations, social entrepreneurs and impact investors, to help them navigate consequential decisions they need to make and the legal issues they confront,” explained Lulo, who joined ISLP as Executive Director in 2019. “Our aim is to really help them achieve their development goals that are in line with rule of law principles and accountable and inclusive, sustainable development.”
Established almost 25 years ago, ISLP has a substantial track record as an independent, non-governmental, non-political charitable organisation working to promote the rule of law and advance development that is more accountable, more inclusive and more sustainable.
The organisation has an expansive international network of senior level volunteer lawyers, including prominent global law firms, regional and local firms, retired and individual practitioners, academics, former diplomats and government lawyers “who are generous enough to commit their expertise to giving back to the greater good”, said Lulo. This allows ISLP to provide legal assistance that would otherwise be inaccessible to those it serves.
“Importantly, our model is very much to support local expertise and not supplant or replace it,” she emphasised.
Viewed as a reliable and credible partner, ISLP helps develop and identify projects where it can have a positive impact, and where international legal expertise is relevant to complement local expertise. “All our work is demand driven; it’s really client-driven. We’re there to respond to actual needs and issues where we can contribute something of value,” Lulo said.
Last year, ISLP worked on more than 170 projects spread across more than 50 countries.
As an organisation, ISLP focuses on the following key areas: accountability and transparency; community-inclusive development; innovative finance and social enterprises; investment and trade; media law and freedom of expression; natural resource management; responsible technology; and taxation. Recent projects in Africa have included providing legislative review and drafting support for mining and public-private partnership (PPP) legislation, transactional support in negotiating and structuring major infrastructure and concession agreements in the extractives sector, delivering tailored arbitration workshops for government officials in Kenya, hosting a two-day regional convening to cap a year-long program of activities promoting freedom of expression in sub-Saharan Africa, and delivering a capacity-building project on PPPs for government officials in Nigeria.
Lulo says ISLP welcomes opportunities to work with senior African lawyers and law associations, and would encourage any who are interested in contributing their expertise to contact ISLP.
Looking ahead, Africa will be key, says Lulo, particularly in relation to the global energy transition. ISLP will be looking at what that means for African partners in terms of renewable energies and being the source for so many critical minerals, and “how African countries can maximise the opportunities and minimise the environmental and human rights risks that go along with it”.
You can learn more about the International Senior Lawyers Project at https://islp.org
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please click here