Books For Africa
Look at a map of Africa, and you can count nine nations that are considered "free" democracies. And you can count another 23 that are working to establish sound democracies.
That's according to officials at the Jack Mason Law and Democracy Initiative, who are working to increase those numbers by directing a precious resource to African nations: legal texts for law students, bar associations and other law-related recipients.
Co-chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, the Initiative is a program of Books For Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to the continent. The Initiative has a special mission of addressing the "book famine" of law and human rights texts in Africa.
That mission received a boost in November, when we announced an agreement with the Initiative to create up to 15 new law libraries filled with teaching and international law texts at law schools and governing institutions in Africa over the next several years.
In addition, Thomson Reuters plans to donate funds to offset the shipping costs of the legal texts and will continue to provide advertising, logistical and printing support to Books For Africa and the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative.
"The Rule of Law - including the right to vote in free and fair elections, or the right to establish a business without the threat of militia rule or extortion - is something that we often take for granted. But it's our faith in the Rule of Law that allows us to build strong businesses, establish smart schools and provide quality health care to people across Minnesota and the United States," said former Vice President Mondale."This partnership will help Africa's emerging democracies strengthen their governments by giving the next generation of lawyers, civil servants and government leaders the tools necessary to create and sustain the stable democracies we take for granted."
Books For Africa, a 22 year old non-profit organization based in Minnesota, is the world's largest shipper of donated school and library books to the African continent. A key component of Books For Africa is The Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative, which provides legal texts for African law students, bar associations and other legal recipients.
This partnership builds on more than three years of collaboration between Books For Africa and Thomson Reuters. To date, we have contributed more than 3,500 legal texts and 50,000 general interest books to legal and public schools across 12 African nations through its work with Books For Africa.
"We are grateful to be a part of this important initiative to provide Africa's future lawyers, civil servants and leaders with the information and tools needed to establish stable and prosperous democracies," said Peter Warwick, chief executive officer of Thomson Reuters, Legal. "Our new commitment to Books For Africa strengthens our partnership and our efforts to enhance the Rule of Law worldwide."
In addition to supporting Books For Africa, we offer many significant programs to advance the legal professional's contributions to the Rule of Law, including:
- TrustLaw, a program of the Thomson Reuters foundation that pairs local, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with lawyers and legal professionals willing to offer pro-bono services.
- Do Justice, a program that provides attorneys doing pro-bono work with free access to Westlaw, our market leading legal research service.
- International Law Book Facility, a clearinghouse for donated legal texts, which it redirects to countries where the rule of law is under threat or where natural disasters or poverty hinder the effective pursuit of justice.
Photo: Michael J. Davis, Chief Judge, US District Court of Minnesota