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Namibian lawyer appointed to international bar association

Mrs Deidre Sauls, newly appointed communications officer of the Bar Issues Commission (BIC) at the International Bar Association (IBA)

Mrs Deidre Sauls, newly appointed communications officer of the Bar Issues Commission (BIC) at the International Bar Association (IBA)

Namibia has been awarded another legal platform from which its voice can be heard when a prominent local lawyer has been appointed to one of the commissions that serve under the umbrella of the International Bar Association. Deidre Sauls, advocate at law, is has been appointed as the communications officer of the Bar Issues Commission (BIC), a subsidiary body of the International Bar Association (IBA).

The election results were announced in Tokyo at the IBA Annual Conference that took place this past October. The Bar Issues Commission (BIC) is the section within the IBA dedicated to member organisations.  Its leadership provides programmes, projects and networking opportunities relating to the interests of bar associations and law societies, providing a platform for member organisations to discuss and work together on subjects of common interest. Mrs. Sauls, in addition to her general duties as BIC Officer, will also be responsible for communications in Africa and Europe. At the IBA Annual Conference in Tokyo the IBA Council met and elected the incoming President, Vice-President and Secretary-General.  The President is from the USA, the Vice-President from Prague, in the Czech Republic and the Secretary General from Sao Paulo in Brazil. All terms of office run from 01 January 2015 to 31st December 2016. Sauls is one of seven members of the commission and is presently the only African member. The BIC as a commission is of one of the two main pillars of the IBA. The BIC is primarily a forum for leaders of bar member organisations to share and discuss information and issues of common interest. According to Advocate Sauls, the African members of the IBA form the minority of the members in leadership positions while the developed countries form the majority. However, she pointed out that the newly elected Secretary General is from Brazil, another developing country. Sauls said over recent years, there has been a change in perspective regarding law organisations from the developing world, and that more representation on the managements of the leading international law bodies can be expected. One of the projects in the IBA that Sauls is directly involved with is the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The project aims to implement the UN guidelines that ensure that the state upholds its duty of protecting individuals against human rights abuses by third parties. According to these guidelines, the responsibility of all jurisdictions is to respect human rights and to avoid infringing those rights. The guidelines also aim to make sure that businesses and, in particular law practitioners address any negative impact which resulted from the activities of commercial entities. The guidelines also seek to ensure that there is a remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses. Owing to Sauls’ participation, Namibia is currently the only African country taking part in the pilot project to roll out the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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