IHRDA director urges law students: Be resolute and fearless

The director of programmes at IHRDA, Edmund Foley, urges law students to be resolute in their quest to acquire legal knowledge

The law lecturer and director of programmes at the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), based in Gambia, Edmund Foley, is urging law students in Ghana to be resolute and fearless in their quest to acquire legal knowledge. Foley says that, whatever challenges may lie in their way, students can, in their own small way, shape the law in Ghana and beyond if they persist.

Addressing students drawn from ten law faculties in Ghana for the annual international criminal law and justice training course at GIMPA law faculty, organised by the African Centre of International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) today (30 September 2021), Foley said the evolution of the law to meet contemporary demands has never been the preserve of more experienced legal minds.

This is because history has shown that law students, through their research and briefs while they are still studying, have also had an impact on legal systems in various countries.

“I am always inspired by the fictional but very true work of the novelist John Grisham in his book The Pelican Brief, in which a brief by the young law student Darby Shaw becomes the turning point in unearthing the truth behind the assassination of two Supreme Court justices and corruption within the innermost sanctum of the White House in the United States,” the IHRDA programmes director said.

A cross-section of participants in the ACICJ training session at GIMPA’s law faculty


“I have thus never underestimated the impact of a law student in shaping the law. As you undergo this training and increase your knowledge of international criminal law, I present to you emerging dimensions which are not fully tapped and explored.

“As with any new outgrowth of the law, you are bound to be met with the barrier of precedent and conservatism.

“But I urge you to be resolute, innovative and fearless, as you think outside the box and open our minds to new approaches to international criminal law which we have not previously imagined,” Foley said.

Mass exam failures

Edmund Foley’s call comes at a time when over 2,000 law students in Ghana failed to pass the entrance examination to pursue a professional legal education at the Ghana School of Law, enabling them to become practising lawyers.

A total of just 790 students (28%) out of the 2,824 who sat the 2021 Ghana School of Law entrance exam passed, official figures released this week by the law school show.

The figure represents a 10% drop from the total number of LLB candidates who passed the previous year. In 2020, in total, 1,045 out of 2,763 students who sat the entrance examination passed. In 2019, only 128 candidates out of 1,820 succeeded.

With repeated fluctuations in the law school entrance examination results, the subject of legal education in Ghana has become much disputed, generating heated discussions in the mainstream as well as social media.

Training participation

In all, about 90 students took part in the training. They were drawn mainly from the Ghana School of Law, GIMPA law faculty, Mount Crest University, and the faculties of law at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, the University of Ghana at Legon, Central University, Wisconsin University, KNUST and the University of Cape Coast.

Together with participants from other, smaller institutions, these students are undertaking the 2021 in-person version of the law training course.

The training facilitators for the 2021 edition of the ACICJ/ICC International Criminal Justice Law programme

Session facilitators

Among the figures lined up to facilitate and moderate the two-day course are Jean-Jacques Badibanga, senior trial lawyer with the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, and Dahirou Santa-Anna, international co-operation advisor with responsibility for jurisdiction, complementarity and co-operation division, also in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC.

They will be joined by Edmund Foley, acting in his capacity as the director of programmes at the IHRDA in Gambia.

Broad scope

The history of international criminal law and justice, the legal basis for the establishment of the International Criminal Court and a seminar on “Processing a Case Before the International Criminal Court: From Preliminary Examination to Verdict” are among topics that will be treated on the first day of training.

On day two, the facilitators will look at the role and rights of parties in proceedings before the ICC (prosecution and defence), the place of victims in proceedings before the ICC, and the role and contribution of the ICC trust fund for victims.

There will also be a talk under the rubric of “Human Rights, Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Justice: Putting It All Together”.

All participants in the 2021 ACICJ training course pose together with the training facilitators after the opening ceremony


The African Centre of International Criminal Justice is dedicated to growing the body of knowledge on international criminal justice, its necessity and the place of Africa within that paradigm.

The centre was conceived on the back of the success of the conference “International Criminal Court and Africa: a Discussion of Legitimacy, Impunity, Selectivity, Fairness and Accountability”, held at GIMPA in March 2016.

The ACICJ’s aim is to fight impunity at the global, regional and national levels through education and by disseminating accurate information regarding the international criminal law and justice regime generally, and the ICC in particular.

The centre is now a focal point for research, scholarship and training on the ICC and broader issues of international justice across the African continent. The activities of the ACICJ are made possible with funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Wilberforce Asare

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