Know Your Rights! conference in Dakar, Senegal


June 26-27, 2007


Mr. Chafi Bakari, Senior Legal Officer of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, presenting, on behalf of Her Excellency Mme. Sawadogo, President of the Commission, an address to the Know Your Rights! workshop at the West African Research Center.

On June 26 and 27, the Center co-hosted, along with the West African Research Center (WARC) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a two-day multidisciplinary workshop in Dakar, Senegal. This event represented the launch of the Know Your Rights! project - run collaboratively by Brandeis, the Commission, and WARC - which focuses on critical issues involved in translating and disseminating human rights documents in African languages. The workshop brought together a group of some 35 participants from Senegal and the Gambia and was comprised of jurists, linguists, literacy specialists, journalists (both print and broadcast), and representatives of grassroots organizations working in relevant domains. Leigh Swigart, director of programs in international justice and society, was one of the principal planners of the workshop as well as a participant.

This was the first time that such a multidisciplinary group had gathered to confront the challenges of how to make available to the vast majority of the African population, which does not speak French or English, the human rights charters and protocols to which their states are party. The exchanges among participants were rich and informative and marked by the recognition that cross-sectoral collaboration is crucial to the success of such an initiative. The group decided, at the end of the workshop, to create a network to advance the objectives of Know Your Rights!. More specifically, the network will 1) develop a database of legal and human rights terminology that can be used by translators, journalists and others, and 2) establish a repository of human rights materials (beginning with the five legal instruments of the African Commission) in Senegambian languages (Wolof, Sereer, Mandinka, Joola, et Pulaar). These materials will be catalogued and housed at WARC.

Senegal and Gambia will act as pilot countries for Know Your Rights! The project partners plan to replicate the activities that are fine-tuned in these two countries in order to extend this important work across West Africa and, eventually, the continent.

Read President Sawadogo's remarks
(in French)
View a list of the workshop participants
(in French)
Read the workshop schedule
(in French)

Know Your Rights! conference participants enjoy lunch in the WARC garden

Workshop participants discussing the challenges of translating human rights documents