AIDS LAW PROJECT participated in the Legal AID clinic organized by the University of Nairobi as one of the events to mark its 100 day RRI Sensitization on Implementation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. The Clinic was sponsored by College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ to sensitize staff, students and the general public on the contents of the constitution and public service integrity programme, and was officially opened by the University VC- Prof. George Magoha. We applaud the University for this bold step in the right direction, and for being alive to its outstanding value statement of good corporate citizenship, so well pronounced in its service delivery charter. We hope to further leverage on this partnership to ensure that the University community is ever abreast with HIV issues, particularly its nexus with Human rights and matters access to medicines.
We at ALP remain committed to disseminating information to the general public on the Human rights dimensions of HIV/AIDS. The Legal Aid activity as organized by the university ties in seamlessly with our objective of extending legal literacy on HIV/AIDS to all classes of citizens, and one cannot imagine a better catchment to do this than within our institutions of higher learning.
First years students of Law studying the Course Unit “Social Foundations of Law” will readily recall that there are three broad functions of law within the society as identified by the renowned legal scholar Stephen K Vago, namely Social engineering, Dispute resolution and Social control. At ALP we are keen to use the law to meet the first end. We firmly believe that ensuring people appreciate the legal aspects of HIV/AIDS and particularly the human rights approach, can accelerate the realization of the “Towards zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero deaths” target set by NASCOP, the national technical agency spearheading the fight against the disease. What is more, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (Article 43) now squarely guarantees the right to the highest attainable standard of health for which the government must take specific, measurable and reasonable steps towards ensuring its progressive realization.
Our appeal to all upcoming students of law training at the University is that they remain alive to the challenges that the society faces and use their legal knowledge, not for self aggrandizement, but to intervene meaningfully in alleviating human suffering. It cannot be gainsaid that any lawyer who hopes to ensure the social wellbeing of the Kenyan society must have an intelligent appreciation of HIV/AIDS and its impact on the population. The bane of the ordinary student mindset is the somewhat restricted view of law as a profession affording the quickest means to riches and fame. While this is debatable, it is certainly high time to radically shift this mentality, that budding lawyers may see themselves for what they really are- vanguards of social welfare, watchdogs of public interest, custodians of justice and fairness and bulwarks against government excesses. That they be keen to improve on that profound imagery of lawyers as oil that greases the smooth movement of the different parts of society, quintessential social engineers.
We are grateful to the University of Nairobi for opening this particular frontier of partnership; we indicate our willingness to partner further in such engagements as and when called upon. We pledge our continued commitment towards ensuring that the lives of PLHIVs are better. We invite all in the academia, to avoid the bystander attitude towards HIV/AIDS which views it largely as the exclusive province of self sacrificing healthcare workers and zealous researchers. We particularly appeal to students to improve their attitude towards the teaching of HIV/AIDS as a core unit mandatory for graduation and not to view it merely as drudgery, a means to an end neither deserving much thought nor attention.
Aids Law Project affirms its commitment to being a key ally of the university, particularly the School of Law, in providing internship opportunities to students with a particular interest on HIV/AIDS, Human rights, Intellectual Property and Access to medicines. In these critical times, let us all stand up and be counted, dependable men and women of our time, patriots par excellence. Together we can realize the goal, “Zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero deaths”!