Congratulations to the ILF’s many staff and volunteers, past and present, from around the world who have contributed to our success over the last 10 years. Ten years ago, on September 19, 2001, Natalie Rea and a small group of friends and colleagues, who would later become the ILF’s original board of directors, came together to create the International Legal Foundation. The ILF was founded to meet an urgent, unmet need; criminal defense services for the poor in post-conflict and transitional countries. Access to counsel for the poor is a very serious problem in most post-conflict countries. There are often few lawyers, and the ones remaining are usually reluctant to defend those accused of a crime. As a result, suspects and defendants are more vulnerable to arbitrary detention, coerced and tortured confessions, wrongful convictions and other abuses. Over the last 10 years, the ILF has successfully met this need, establishing public defender programs in Afghanistan, Nepal and the West Bank that provide quality representation to thousands of indigent accused persons every year.
Because of the hard work, commitment and determination of its staff and volunteers, and the generous contributions of its many supporters, the ILF is now internationally recognized as one of the leading authorities in indigent criminal defense services, as well as an expert on institution building in post-conflict and transitional countries. International institutions, the UN, and governments regularly call on the ILF to provide them with advice and assistance. The ILF has also been asked to look into establishing programs in countries recently emerging from conflict in the Middle East and Africa.
On September 17, 2011, the ILF hosted a small gathering to thank the many criminal defense lawyers who have, throughout the last ten years, selflessly volunteered their time to train and mentor lawyers in Afghanistan, Nepal and the West Bank, as well as the lawyers who volunteered with Legal Aid Rwanda to represent detainees charged with crimes of genocide. We thank all of you for your contributions. Your support has been critical to our achievements.
On May 19, 2012, a fundraising benefit was held in New York hosted by actor Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar Little from the HBO series The Wire). It was a moment to celebrate the ILF, as well as advance the issue of the right to counsel for poor people accused of crimes on a global level. The United Nations General Assembly is holding a high-level meeting of the on the rule of law taking place this September, and the ILF is encouraging States to take this opportunity to address this urgent need. Ambassadors and diplomats from a number of permanent missions to the UN attended, and we were also happy to present awards to the original supporters of the ILF: artists Eric Fishl and April Gornik, and founding counsel John Missing.
Thank you for your support.
The International Legal Foundation
111 John Street, Suite 1040
New York, New York 10038
P: +1 212-608-1188