Call for Applications: Litigation Surgery on the Right to Education in Africa

13 – 16 February 2012, Nairobi

INTERIGHTS is pleased to announce a call for applications to African-based lawyers and NGOs who would like to participate in a forthcoming litigation surgery on the right to education. All applicants are required to submit for discussion current or potential cases involving violations of the right to education on the themes detailed in the application form.

The objective of the planned litigation surgery is to identify and provide substantive support to cases on the right to education that could be pursued before domestic or international fora and to build relationships with lawyers undertaking such cases. The litigation surgery will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 13 – 16 February 2012.

In March 2010, INTERIGHTS held a consultative meeting with experts on the right to education drawn from all over Africa. The objective of that meeting was to discuss with national and international practitioners and experts in the field of the right to education measures that can be taken to encourage and assist litigation at national, sub-regional, regional and international levels in Africa.

One of the issues arising was the need to build the capacity of lawyers to incorporate principles of international law in the litigation of the right to education domestically and before regional and international human rights mechanisms. The need to litigate specific issues to set standards offering greater protection where existing laws and practices fall short was also stressed. It was further highlighted that INTERIGHTS should assist lawyers and NGOs in beginning the process of litigating the right to education and to identify violations of the right to education and advise on litigation strategies that could be applied by them.

INTERIGHTS aims to enforce human rights through law, providing protection and redress in particular regions and on issues of strategic focus. It has conducted extensive litigation before domestic, regional and international courts and tribunals including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights. It has achieved this both through representation and co-representation of victims, third party interventions and the provision of advice and materials to local partners. In addition, it has held numerous conferences, judicial colloquia and training workshops during the last two decades with members of the legal profession and civil society in many countries in Europe, Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. As part of our work we hold litigation surgeries – meetings focusing on the consideration of cases linked to specific themes – during which strategic litigation of those issues are explored.

Criteria for eligibility:

- The call for applications is open to lawyers, in private practice, or working for or affiliated to NGOs, who either advocate, research or litigate the right to education in Africa. A maximum of 12 participants will be selected;

- The lawyers must have a demonstrated interest in and/or knowledge of right to education and/or related issues;

- The lawyers must have a demonstrated interest in and/or knowledge of international and regional human rights law;

- The lawyers must be involved in, or considering, litigating a case or cases that address right to education violations. With their application, they must submit at least one case study of a case that they are litigating or intend to litigate that could be discussed during the litigation surgery;

- The cases submitted must involve the violation of a fundamental right protected in a national constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (“ACHPR”), Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights or any other relevant international human rights instrument.

- The following suggested themes are a guide for the type of case that could be submitted with the application:
Discrimination in access to education, for example expulsion of pregnant girls;
Failures to ensure equality in access to and enjoyment of the right to education such as not taking indigenous communities into consideration in developing policies on curricula and languages of instruction;
Interference with the rights of the child to access education such as detention of children with their mothers in institutions where they cannot access education or displacement of communities from areas where they accessed education;
The right to education of refugees and internally displaced children;
Failure to provide free and compulsory universal primary education, including non-fee barriers to universal primary education;
The failure to implement national plans and policies and to meet nationally identified goals and benchmarks;
The failure to implement policies to ameliorate the effect of HIV infection on teachers and pupils; and
Failure to respect the dignity of children in education, such as corporal punishment in schools.

- Applicants are encouraged to submit more than one case.

- The working language for the meeting will be English.

Closing date for applications: Friday, 9 December 2011

How to apply:

Please complete the attached application form and submit it together with your case summarie(s) to Moni Shrestha at
If you should require any further information please contact Solomon Sacco at

Shortlisted applicants will be notified soon after the closing date and should be available for telephone interviews on 19 and 20 December 2011.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is a litigation surgery?
A: A litigation surgery is a focused seminar where participants, mainly lawyers, are able to present a case they are working on to peers and experts and have a discussion about the case. The surgeries focus on preliminary problem identification, framing of violations, formulation of human rights arguments and remedy. The surgeries also provide an in-depth understanding of strategic litigation and litigating before regional and international human rights bodies.

Q: I don’t have a case, can I still apply?
A: It will suffice for participants who do not have a case that is pending but have identified law, practice or policy that they would like to challenge in court. Such participants must however demonstrate their ability to and willingness to pursue the case after the surgery.

Q: I am not a lawyer but I am interested, can I apply?
A: Litigation surgeries are only open to lawyers who are in practice. Very rarely, exceptions will be made for legal officers or other people providing legal assistance to civil society formations that work on the relevant thematic issue considered for the surgery.

Q: What is the purpose of a litigation surgery?
A: Litigation surgeries are intended to be a space for litigators to receive technical legal expertise on the relevant thematic issues. It is also a space for litigators to network and find out what other litigators in the various regions where we work are working on.

Q: Where must surgery participants be from?
A: INTERIGHTS currently works in Central and Eastern Europe and Africa. This call for applications relates to Africa and only lawyers based and working in Africa are eligible to apply. Legal advisors based in the global north who provide assistance to lawyers working in domestic courts are not eligible to apply, their local partners should apply.

Q: How many participants will be at the litigation surgery?
A: 10 to 12 participants are selected for the litigation surgeries. Three experts comprising of INTERIGHTS lawyers and other external experts will also be in attendance.

Q: Who pays for the costs of participation?
A: INTERIGHTS will cover airfare, accommodation, a modest per diem and other related costs.

Q: Is there any follow up?
A: INTERIGHTS’ lead lawyers will provide ingoing legal support when requested by the local lawyer. The assistance provided depends on the assistance required by the local lawyer.