Rule of Law and Development in Africa


March 27, 2014

Emily Strauss, Special Counsel for Lawyers without Borders, shared valuable insights Thursday evening in her discussion “Rule of Law and Development in Africa.”

While serving in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, Ms. Strauss observed widespread corruption and lawlessness. The existence of overt banditry, in combination with limited educational opportunities, particularly for girls, underscored for her the fundamental necessity of rule of law and good governance.

Ms. Strauss emphasized to the audience that it is often beneficial for career paths to be circuitous, her own trajectory being a case in point. While an undergraduate at William and Mary College, she never anticipated pursuing law. However, her Peace Corps experience provided motivation and focus.

After teaching English for two years in Cameroon, and helping to establish a scholarship for girl’s education that is now country-wide, Ms. Strauss went on to pursue an MA in international relations and a law degree from Boston University.

At Lawyers Without Borders, Ms. Strauss currently works on projects seeking to promote rule of law in West Africa through judicial and legal training, as well as the expansion of pro bono legal work. One interesting project she has worked on is the African soap opera “Shuga,” which promotes an awareness of rights and legal procedures through television and related graphic novels.

Ms. Strauss’ diverse background demonstrates the benefits of firsthand international experience in narrowing and inspiring future goals.

More about the spring 2014 speaker series “Exploring Global Justice: Perspectives from Young Practitioners.”

More about the Ethics Center's Programs in International Justice and Society.

This article was written by Amelia Katan ’15, a member of the Fall 2013/Spring 2014 Ethics Center Leadership Council.