Today, the Department of State announced the new leadership of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan: Public Co-Chair and Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides, and Private Co-Chair Thomas J. Umberg, Partner, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLC. The Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan was launched in December 2007 to bring together the Department of State and the U.S. legal community to work to advance the rule of law in Afghanistan. Through a combination of private sector contributions, university scholarships, and grants from the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Public-Private Partnership has worked to restore the rule of law in Afghanistan.
Over the past four years, the partnership has funded small-scale, high-impact projects promoting women’s rights, access to justice, legal aid, and professional development for the next generation of Afghan legal scholars. One of the partnership’s most successful programs sponsors Afghan legal professionals seeking Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees at U.S. law schools. In the 2011-2012 academic year, it is sponsoring ten scholars, including three women, for the LL.M program. Alumni of the LL.M. program have gone on to support the rule of law in Afghanistan in a variety of sectors, including government, the private sector, and international organizations. This year, the partnership plans to endow a Rule of Law Chair at Herat University in Afghanistan. The Rule of Law Chair will work to educate Afghan legal scholars on international legal standards and practices to advance development of a democratic and prosperous Afghan state based on the rule of law.
The initiative’s outgoing co-chairs are Ambassador David T. Johnson, former Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and Robert C. O’Brien of Arent Fox, LLP.