Fully Funded Short Course on Law, Human Rights and HIV /AIDS

By | July 20, 2019

Fully Funded Short Course on Law, Human Rights and HIV /AIDS


The Human Right and Peace Center (HURIPEC) at Makerere University in Uganda hosted Training Institute on Access to Medicines, Human Rights and Intellectual Property.  The Program sought to provide a foundation on which there was further targeted research- both basic and policy oriented in the area of access to medicines, human rights and intellectual property.

The participants received focused training on the effects of applying a human rights frame work to access to medicines law and policy including;

  • intellectual property, competition, medicines regulation (covering pricing and availability measures) and trade law frameworks;

  • deal with the most urgent AEM issues affecting the region, in particular, anti-counterfeiting legislation (proposed and established), medicines stock out and quality of medicines actually available;

  • Examine the potential regional initiatives necessary to promote access to medicines in the EAC region, and critically consider those policies that may promote research and development into neglected diseases and conditions for which there are few medicines.

Ultimately, the objective of the program is to create a cadre of legal practitioners and activists fully equipped with basic skills in access to medicines, human rights and intellectual property in order to promote greater policy attention, scholarship and activism to issues of crucial importance, literally dealing with questions of life and death.

A comprehensive reading pack containing key legal documents and contemporary scholarship was provided to participants to equip them with a tool kit for future reference in their advocacy and policy work.  After the course, participants were able to engage in a variety of strategies to increase access to medicines in the context of an increasing focus on intellectual property protection in their individual countries, including strategic litigation by bringing cases related to access to medicines in their  jurisdictions.

The teaching program was arranged in modules focusing on specific areas of Access to medicines, Human Rights and Intellectual property.  The two-week course involved a theoretical component to equip participants with a broad conceptual basis on issues related to AEM, as well as a second more practical and focused component dealing with topical areas of AEM which were of immediate concern to activists in the region.

Facilitators were experts who specialize in the areas of international trade, intellectual property, access to medicines and human rights.  Among them were legal and human rights practitioners drawn from both the Intellectual Property and Human Rights sectors, as well as from Academia and the non-government community, particularly Health Rights Activists.


The teaching program were conducted in English and was targeted at lawyers, activists, policy makers and other professionals engaged with issues of balancing human rights and obligations under the international intellectual property regime.

Participants are also drawn from academia, civil society organizations (CSOs) and the public service.  The course was also open to students in their penultimate year at law school as well as those undertaking graduate study, with a view of enabling such graduates appreciate the importance of this growing area of legal scholarship and practice, while also equipping them with skills that enabled them to bring some influence to bear on the different spheres of legal concern which were opened once their careers began.

African School on International Criminal Law (ASICL)


While the history of armed conflicts on the African continent goes back some time, the idea of securing accountability for crimes and atrocities committed during those conflicts is of more recent vintage.  Hence, the resurgence with concern about international criminal law, transitional justice and the discussion of law, justice, peace and accountability focused largely on the situation in the African continent.  Indeed, this concern was manifested in the establishment of various semi-permanent courts such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in November 1994 to prosecute genocide and crimes against humanity.  The establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was also illustrative of the attempt to ‘domesticate’ ICL and make it more relevant and transformative to the lives of ordinary populace.  The International Criminal Court as a permanent mechanism also came into being.

The above significant developments aside, the teaching and practice of international criminal law is made an impact on African Law Schools’ curricula.  ICL was surrounded by skepticism and consternation and was often dismissed as incapable of promoting sustainable peace.  There was therefore great need to promote increased teaching and research on ICL to enhance the capacity of African lawyers to handle this growing area of international jurisprudence, and to be able to address both the technical and the juridical aspects of the subject, while also being made acutely aware of the various political and socio-cultural nuances that affect it.

Indeed, there was need to place an African imprint on the development and practice of ICL, by training and producing a cadre of international criminal lawyers and legal professionals.  This was necessary considering that only a handful of African lawyers were attached to the ICTR and ICC despite the fact that the former was located in Arusha, Tanzania.  The ICC’s list of external experts also contained very few African scholars.  Africa was underrepresented on the list of counsel eligible for appointment to defend accused persons at each of the various tribunals including the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Cambodian Tribunal and the Lebanon (Hariri) Tribunal.

In light of the above, the Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC) at Makerere University and the International Law Institute-African Centre for Legal Excellence (ILI-ACE) with support from the Open Society Initiative for East Africa established a programme  for teaching ICL to recent law graduates from around the African continent.  The two-week training programme aimed at enabling graduates appreciate the importance of this growing area of legal scholarship and practice, while also equipping them with skills that would allow them to access the increasing opportunities that were becoming available in this area.  Equipped with such skills, it was expected that more African Professionals  could substantively participate in, and contribute to, developments in this field in the African and international arena, either through existing international courts and tribunals, supporting non-governmental organizations that work in the area, or through academic research and discourse.

The select teaching team during the school was a combination of various professionals with vast experience in ICL related aspects. They included members of the academia, senior lawyers from tribunals such as the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  Previously, the programme has benefited immensely from the expertise of Ms. Patricia Sellers, a visiting fellow at Oxford University (Kellogg College) and a consultant in international criminal and humanitarian law; Ms. Elizabeth Griffin, Director of the Human Rights Centre and Adjunct Associate Professor at the United Nations University for Peace; Richard Karegyesa, acting Chief of Prosecutions, and Head of Trial Support Services in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR among others.


The programme was intended for African lawyers with less than five (5) years working experience.  The participants were selected from various African countries that were designated prior to the call for applications. In the previous (two) 2 programmes, participants had been selected from selected Western and Southern African countries and the Greater Lakes region.  They include Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Applicants had to be able to demonstrate, in an essay of not more than three (3) pages;

  • Their interest in  ICL;

  • How the programme would contribute to their current or future responsibilities;

  • In their opinion, the greatest contributions and shortcomings of ICL.

Applicants were strongly encouraged to email their applications which included a completed application form, detailed CV and a cover letter no latter than the indicated date for every call out for applications.  Women were highly encouraged to apply.  Calls for applications were sent out between July and August for every year while the seminar was carried out in September of every year.

The tuition fees, travel, accommodation, seminar materials, lunch/tea breaks during the training days were covered for the successful applicants.

Summer School on Law, Human Rights and HIV / AIDS


Few pandemics in modern human history have wreaked as much havoc as HIV/AIDS.  Although it is a disease with global ramifications, there is little doubt that the African continent has been among the most severally affected by its impact.  Estimates put the number of people living with HIV/AIDS at 42 million, 74% of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa.  HIV/AIDS clearly has an African face.  Furthermore, despite having been around for over two decades, the main focus of the response has either been epidemiological, or on attitudinal change.  Most critically, such responses under-estimate the place of law and of the legal machinery as either facilitator or as obstacle to the design of effective measures to tackle the problem.  The problem is compounded by the lack of a human rights-based approach to addressing the issue.

Some attention has been given to the legal dimensions of the pandemic.  However, these are surprisingly few and far between.  Thus, while public officials and non-governmental workers are concerned with increasing the supply of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, they pay little attention to the possible questions of discrimination and inequality that may arise, for example, the impact of any program on displaced persons, on sexual minorities and on other groups who largely fall under the radar. Furthermore, when measures of legal reform are pursued and eventually adopted-as has recently been the case in Uganda-they often adopt a punitive, discriminatory and anti-rights posture.  In this way they reinforce a stigma and increase conditions of marginalization and inequity.
Despite significant developments in addressing HIV/AIDS pandemic in general, there is still a lacuna in the teaching and dissemination of knowledge about the link between HIV/AIDS, law and human rights in the East African region.  The subject is lost within the broader context of concern with issues such as Medical Professional Ethics; the Liability of Health Workers, and Legislation on Public Health.  Furthermore, given the experience with the case of Uganda in which infection rates stabilized for some time but then registered a regression, it is abundantly clear that there is a need to link the issue to its varied human rights dimensions.

In light of the above, the Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC)  at Makerere University in Uganda, established a two-week program for teaching Law, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS to lawyers, activists and policy makers-whether in the Public Service, in private practice , academia or in the non-governmental arena.  The course introduced and trained participants on the basic elements of law, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS, beginning with a broad examination of the rights and epidemiological issues involved.  Special attention was paid to the situation of persons who had been particularly marginalized by the legal discourse on the pandemic, including persons living with HIV/AIDS, sexual minorities, children and displacees.  It also focused on the manner in which the law could be innovatively and progressively used as a mechanism to improve attention to the plight of those infected and affected by the pandemic.

In addition, the program provided a foundation on which there could further targeted research-both basic and policy oriented in the area of law, Human rights and HIV/AIDs.  Ultimately, the objective of the program/course was to create a cadre of legal practitioners fully equipped with basic skills in Law, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS in order to promote greater policy attention, scholarship and activism on an area of law that was of increasing significance to the basic right to health, to life and to an adequate standard of living implicated by the pandemic.   With this course, not only was there an opportunity to influence the government and the public arena, but eventually for a more holistic, inter-disciplinary approach to an area that was largely regarded as Medical.


The course was primarily intended for mid-and senior level lawyers activists and policy makers, as well as recent graduates of African law Schools (of not more than five years duration), who were actively engaged in advocacy, public interest litigation and other innovative legal strategies to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic to enable such graduates to appreciate the importance of this growing area of legal scholarship and practice, while also equipping them with skills that would allow them to bring some influence to bear on the different spheres of legal concern in which they would be operating once their careers begin.  At the end of the training, participants were presented with Certificates of Attendance.

For more information and scholarship applications, see: Fully Funded Short Course on Law, Human Rights and HIV /AIDS