Birzeit University, UNDP to establish legal clinic, contribute in advancing rule of law

Birzeit University law students, faculty, and researchers will provide legal aid and advice to members of the Palestinian community and help push forward policies and regulations to improve access to justice through a legal clinic that will be established within the Faculty of Law and Public Administration in cooperation with the UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People through the Sawasya II Joint Programme: Strengthening the Rule of Law in Palestine.

President of Birzeit University Dr. Beshara Doumani and UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator for the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People Ms. Yvonne Helle signed the agreement to establish the legal clinic in a ceremony on April 21, 2022, with university administrators and UNDP representatives in attendance.

The legal clinic will offer the university’s community of law students, academics, and researchers the opportunity to provide legal advice and consultation to, among others, vulnerable groups of the Palestinian society, giving students the needed hands-on experience and training and extending the university’s community-engagement efforts in the fields of law and legal services.

Through the agreement, the university’s Faculty of Law and Public Administration and the UNDP through the Sawasya II program will integrate and institutionalize the legal clinic system, formalizing the mechanisms required for receiving and transferring legal cases and communicating with specialized partners, official bodies, and targeted groups.

In his welcoming remarks, Doumani emphasized the university's commitment to building sustainable partnerships with its longstanding friends, especially the UNDP, noting the benefits of such cooperation on the university’s community as a whole. “It is important to expand the UNDP’s impact on our campus by encompassing both parties’ technical, professional, and academic expertise to realize the goals of our joint cooperation,” he added.

Helle highlighted the fruitful partnership between the UNDP and Birzeit University, lauding the agreement as a significant milestone in the ongoing collaboration between the two institutions particularly with regard to the rule of law and access to justice in Palestine. “The rule of law is a function of both national institutions’ capacity to deliver quality justice and security services and bolster local communities’ capacity to use them,” she said.

Dr. Mahmoud Dodeen, dean of the Faculty of Law and Public Administration, emphasized the legal clinic’s role in empowering Birzeit University’s law students with personal and professional skills helpful during their studies and beyond. The focus on  law students and their roles within the broader Palestinian community, he added, is a hallmark of the cooperation between the faculty and the UNDP through various joint projects and initiatives.

 The UNDP/UNWOMEN/UNICEF Joint Programme: Strengthening the Rule of Law in Palestine represents the primary programmatic vehicle of the United Nations for advancing the rule of law, gender justice and human rights in the State of Palestine. The agreement signed with Birzeit University is the fifth of its kind the UNDP has through the Sawasya II program with university legal clinics, following those with An-Najah University, Al-Quds University, Al-Azhar University, and the Islamic University of Gaza.