October 2002

 

Advocates International: 2002 Global Highlights
 

Advocates International (AI) was launched in 1991. The global network seeks to promote religious freedom and human rights, conflict resolution and justice, ethics and the integration of faith and practice. The network links 30,000 law professionals in over 100 nations, including those in 30 former or current communist nations. The following is a sampling of the ways Advocates' staff, Board and national colleagues are engaged globally.

Defending Religious Liberty

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In 2002 AI's networking advocates intervened in religious liberty issues in over 70 countries.
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The Director of Bulgaria's Rule of Law Institute (RLI) chaired a conference for 120 lawyers, judges, religious and political leaders in Bulgaria on the proposed Law on Religion. Co-moderators of the conference included the legal counsel to Bulgaria's Orthodox Church, Advocates Europe Chairman, John Langlois and the President of the European Evangelical Alliance. After the conference, RLI was asked by members of Parliament and other leaders to help draft a Law on Religion for the Parliament's consideration.
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AI's Rule of Law Institute of Mongolia held a religious freedom symposium with over 50 leaders present. The Chairman of Mongolia's Human Rights Commission was the keynote speaker.
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Working with Pakistani "innkeepers," AI's Board Secretary Ann Buwalda helped in the successful appeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court on behalf of a Pakistani follower of Christ who had been sentenced to be executed for allegedly violating Pakistan's "Blasphemy Law."
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AI's advocate in Greece, who is the director of the European Center for Law and Justice, successfully defended 15 Pentecostals on trial for sharing their faith. They were acquitted of all charges. AI's President, Sam Ericsson, served as the expert witness at the trial.

"Let us not give up meeting together . . . "

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During the past 12 months, over 3,000 lawyers, law students and professors, judges and national leaders from nearly 100 nations on six continents participated in seminars, conferences and other events initiated or co-sponsored by Advocates International and its network. A similar number participated in conferences organized by many of the 70 national Christian law groups around the globe. In 1991, there were only eight nations with Christian lawyer fellowships.
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AI's Board member John Johnson and several Israeli lawyers, both Jewish and Arab, organized a conference in Haifa, Israel. A Jordanian advocate organized a similar conference in Jordan.
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The Australian Christian Lawyer Society hosted Australasia's 1st Regional Network Conference with 95 participants from five nations. The theme was Seeking God First-The Key.
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Advocates Europe 2nd conference was hosted by Bulgaria's Rule of Law Institute. There were 250 participants from 22 nations. The theme was Justice, Ethics and Moral Values in Europe. Speakers included Portugal's former Minister of Justice, the former Vice Chairman of the European Parliament, several current European parliamentarians, and justices from the European Court on Human Rights and Bulgaria's Supreme Court.
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Ghana's Christian Lawyers Fellowship hosted the African Christian Lawyers Network's (ACLN) 4th conference. The theme was Christian Lawyers-Oasis of Hope in a Continent in Transition. It was held in Accra, Ghana and drew over 300 participants from 17 nations. Speakers included Supreme Court Justices from Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.
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AI's Board member Ken Starr addressed 200 participants from 15 nations at the 2nd Latin American Christian Lawyers Network Conference held this year in San Jose, Costa Rica. The theme was Christian Lawyers: Taking the Lead in Pursuing Justice.
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The 2nd Advocates Asia Conference was held in October 2002 with about 200 participants from 17 nations hosted by the Malaysian Lawyers Fellowship. The theme was Justice and Peace: The Challenge of Asia.

Judicial Training

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350 Albanian judges attended a three-day seminar on judicial ethics co-sponsored by the Albanian Supreme Court, Advocates International and the American Bar Association. AI's Board member Roger Sherrard, former Washington Chief Justice Robert Utter, and the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Courts International Committee, Federal Judge Paul Magnuson, participated.
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AI's Board member Roger Sherrard addressed over 200 Albanian judges on Albanian Law Day and presented desktop paperweights with the inscription, "Justice is Truth in Action."

Nation-Building

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AI's President Sam Ericsson received the Mother Teresa Humanitarian Award, from the President of Albania in recognition of Ericsson's ten-years' work in Albania in furthering rule of law, human rights, religious freedom, ethics and judicial independence.
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AI's Board Chairman Lynn Buzzard and the Director of Bulgaria's Rule of Law Institute met with nearly 40 lawyers and judges in Yerevan, Armenia. An advocate who is a justice on Armenia's Constitutional Court organized this event. Five months later, 21 of the participants took a 50-hour bus ride (each way!) to the Advocates Europe conference in Sofia.
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Advocates Korea sent 30 advocates (including one cabinet level official, a Supreme Court justice, prosecutors, businessmen, and lawyers) to Central Asia to conduct a conference on Legal Foundations for Economic Development and Sustained Foreign Investment. The president of the host country expressed great interest in the conference organized by AI's Central Asia director.

Educating Lawyers, Law Students, Judges and National Leaders

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AI's Board Member Chip Zimmer, International Director for Peacemaker Ministries, conducted training seminars in mediation at AI's conferences in Australia, Europe and Latin America.
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Advocates International presented a 1,200-volume law library gift from Regents University Law School to Bulgaria's South West University Faculty on Law & History. AI and the Bulgaria Rule of Law Institute have a ten-year agreement with South West University to work together on issues impacting ethics, rule of law, religious freedom, human rights and conflict resolution.

Preparing tools to inspire the legal profession to do justice with compassion

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Headwaters of Hope is a video featuring 19 African lawyers engaged in issues and activities as diverse as legal aid to AIDS babies and prisoners, advocating on behalf of street children, and addressing challenges to religious freedom in schools. It has been distributed to over 50 nations.
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A Call to Justice is a video featuring 15 Latin American lawyers engaged in human rights, religious freedom, children's rights and related issues. It has been distributed to over 50 nations and is available in English and Spanish.
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Who Will Build the Guardrails? is a video sharing Advocates' global approach of working relationally, professionally and spiritually.
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God Loves Albania is a video featuring the work of an advocate and her ministry to the disabled in Europe's poorest country.
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By early 2003 Advocates' website will be accessible in at least a dozen languages. By that time all videos will also be available in English, French, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.