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Looking Back, Looking Forward: Placement at the University of the Gambia

Press release issued: 25 September 2018

The Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC) has had a collaborative relationship with the Faculty of Law at the University of Gambia (UTG) since 2011. Each year the HRIC has facilitated a postgraduate student of the University of Bristol Law School to teach law at the UTG for an academic year. We caught up with former placement holders Emily and Chris to hear about their experiences, as well as outgoing placement holder Anamaria to find out more about her aims for the year ahead.

The position of Visiting Lecturer in Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of the Gambia involves teaching first, second or third year law students core law subjects, as well as subjects such as public international law, international criminal law, mooting, legal method and international human rights.

The placement is open to Law School students who have passed part 1 of their LLM or MSc, or are finishing the second year of their MA, and who have experience working for the University of Bristol Law Clinic or the Human Rights Law Clinic. 

Emily Littlehales (International Law and International Relations LLM Pathway), reflected on her time as Visiting Lecturer at the University of the Gambia for the academic year 2017-2018:

My time in The Gambia was full of the best kind of challenges, unforgettable experiences and friendships. Simultaneously watching, learning, translating and adapting to a world entirely different to the one I’d known, the year was unlike any other as I became immersed in urban Gambian life and culture every single day.

I was given work opportunities that would be unattainable back home, and was trusted with projects that I’d previously never dreamed of beginning. I learned so much about character and excellence from inspiring colleagues at UTG, and made friends that I’ll never forget. The whirlwind is one I’d recommend to those keen for adventure, courage and expanded thinking - I feel incredibly grateful.” 

During her placement Emily accompanied a team of UTG students to the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition 2018 in The Hague, the Netherlands. Find out more about the team’s experience in this video, which Emily helped to produce.

Emily’s predecessor, Christopher Gray (Socio-legal Studies MSc), who held the placement during the academic year 2016-2017 said:

Having the opportunity to teach law at the University of The Gambia was decisive for me in deciding to continue with academia. It broadened my experience of universities as a place of work, and I was able to supplement my teaching responsibilities with other initiatives both within the university and in the broader legal community.

I particularly enjoyed coordinating the Law Clinic, which required partnering with legal professionals and organisations to provide a different aspect of education for the students. Working in the context of the Gambian legal system was also an invaluable experience, and gave me a broader perspective on the application of common law and international law in another jurisdiction.

Outgoing alumna Anamaria Santos Fonsêca Sousa (Human Rights Law LLM) spoke about her aspirations for her placement, starting September 2018.

Coming from South America, I was keen to embrace this unique opportunity to fully engage with a more internationalised perspective of the law, with a particular focus on international human rights law. Studying in Europe has served to broaden my horizons, and I believe that teaching in Gambia will provide even greater expertise on teaching law and on how to bolster the diffusion of human rights law knowledge.

Teaching law by sharing the tools I gained from my diverse personal and academic background truly thrills me, because this is what I believe is most rewarding. Diffusing knowledge must be a core commitment of anyone working with law and human rights, because education is the instrument to improve local communities and societies.

My work as a team leader in the Human Rights Law Clinic through the HRIC gave me the chance to be immersed in different legal systems, to develop my research skills and to work with a team with heterogenous experience perspectives. I am grateful for this experience and I will use it as the stepping stone to pave my path as a visiting scholar at UTG.”

Further information

The Human Rights Implementation Centre is a leading institution for the implementation of human rights, that works in collaboration with a number of organisations and bodies, including those in the United Nations, the African Union, the Council of Europe, as well as with governments and organisations at the national level

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