Meet our advisory board: Robert Buergenthal
06 September 2021, by Greg Kempe
The four members of the Laws.Africa advisory board support the organisation through guidance and expertise.
One of our board members is Mr. Robert M. Buergenthal. He has worked for thirty years to implement international development programs and support initiatives that create the underlying conditions for sustainable global development. Specializing in governance, justice sector reform, conflict resolution, and civil society development, he has worked in over seventy-five countries leading projects to support the dissemination of public legal information and academic scholarship.
In this Q&A, Robert explains why he joined the Laws.Africa advisory board and his belief in access to African legal information.
Why is free access to African legal information important?
Given the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, transparency of legal information is critical as countries throughout Africa quickly develop their new legal frameworks and as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) continues its roll-out in an effort to attract both regional and foreign direct investment. While emergency donor assistance has been partially able to mitigate the stress on regional economies, global experience demonstrates that long term development and poverty reduction efforts require access to information to facilitate sustainable investments. In order to help lift the poor out of poverty and support efforts to facilitate opportunities for women and young entrepreneurs, both regional and international investors need to be able to balance risks and rewards by having access to regulatory information that allows them to make informed decisions in a rapidly changing legal environment.
Why do you support Laws.Africa?
As a nonprofit, Laws.Africa has been able to quickly bridge the digital divide by working directly with regional institutions to overcome the numerous operational factors that for decades have frustrated commercial vendors. By creating strong partnerships, Laws.Africa has already become the “go to source” for both the public and private sectors in a region where the collection and processing of legal information is not without its challenges. Laws.Africa has used its local know-how to develop strong collection networks and deliver the information through a modern digital platform that has already empowered numerous diverse users; and that list is growing exponentially.
Are you seeing any trends that makes Laws.Africa’s work more important?
As Africa’s new legal frameworks take shape—and the region strengthens its domestic and regional justice sector institutions—the impact will also be reflected in the region’s legal information and scholarship. Laws.Africa provides the digital platform that already tackles many of the information management challenges that would require a reliance on costly platforms that are not widely available to the public sector or civil society organizations which lead those very efforts to strengthen the justice sector. As the need grows, Laws.Africa’s platform can grow with it and continue to meet the needs of all of its users.
You can read more about Robert, and our other advisory board members, on our About Us page.