Mak Environmental Law Society Launched

Makerere University Environmental Law Society was today Friday 6th April 2018 launched at an event that doubled as a Public Lecture on the theme Environmental Law in the 21st Century style; Preparing Lawyers to promote environmental justice.

The ceremony was presided over by Hon Justice Kenneth Kakuru a renowned environmentalist in the Court of appeal and was held at the lower auditorium at the School of Law.

In his address to the students, Justice Kakuru while giving his own experience as a law student decades ago said law students were important in the future of this country given the socio political trend of events past, present and yet to come. He said during his time, their orientation as law students was to work for the less privileged members of society and urged the students to have noble aspirations other than acquiring wealth. 

Justice Kakurusaid as young lawyers, students needed to have goals guided by a desire to seek justice and speak for the oppressed. ‘Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves’ he counseled them.  He said it did not matter as to what kind of car one drove or even the kind of wealth one had, but rather fight for people’s rights as enshrined in the bill of rights in the Uganda Constitution in order to make the society better.

He said as an environmental lawyer, he got an opportunity to speak out despite that fact that Government was the biggest offender in as far as the breach of environmental laws were concerned. He said that anything that comes in the world was a result of labor, skill and intellect, which he described as a source of conflict between those that have or do not have.

He expressed gratitude to see young students coming together to form the environmental law society  and cautioned them to remain focused on their objectives by guarding against donor conditions whose funding when sought, comes with their own agenda.

“Do not be part of the lawyers who do what they can to deprive the people of the little they have” he advised.  He said in the field of environmental, there was a belief that if all did a little, then much is done and that if each one decided to do something positive, the totality would yield good results.

Mr. GodberTumushabefrom the Great Lakes Institute of Strategic studies, while describing himself as a Policy analyst asked the students of law to think widely about the possible career options available to them in the field of environmental law.  He for instance cited areas like Public Interest Litigation and environmental justice, the practice of environmental law, and the changing context of environmental law.

He said as students, they were already in practice in environmental law citing his own contribution towards the enactment of the environmental laws when as the President of Makerere Law Society of his time heorganized a regional law student’sconference that inspired the students to look at their contribution in the area.   He said in practice, environmental law was more that environmental litigation, adding that there were other options like literaryworks  where one could organize new knowledge, conservation , environmental litigation, or even a public interest litigation.

Mr. Tumushabe noted that Public interest litigation in the area of environmental law inspired PIL in other areas like Human Rights thereby tearing down the confinement of jurisprudence.  He said by extending to new frontiers, the principal were included in the area of sustainable development citing the provision of a healthy environment in the sustainable development goals.   

He cautioned them that as environmental lawyers, they needed to be adaptable to the new principals citing new areas of practice like biotechnology and bio safety, climate change and the extractives such as oil and gas as well as forestry and large scale land acquisition, which he described as virgin areas.‘you are not just working for money but also for something that is beneficial to community’ he said.

Students were also addressed by Mr. Phillip Mwaka who shared his experiences in the litigation of environmental cases in the judiciary while presenting his paper entitled, The Practice of Environmental Law.

The Public Lecture was also attended by Prof. Emmanuel Kasimbazi the Head of Department of the Environmental Law Centre at the School of Law and Prof. Ben Twinomugisha