March 22, 2010

Mannheimer Swartling and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute conducted "Human Rights Tool Box" course for practising lawyers

When Vichuta Ly was ten, the Pol Pot regime killed her father, Cambodia’s Justice Minister, and she was placed in a children’s camp to become “a good citizen.” From the acts of cruelty she witnessed evolved a legal pathos that would lead her to pursue a law degree – and eventually establish an organisation to provide legal assistance to vulnerable women and children in Cambodia. Recently, she participated in Mannheimer Swartling's annual human rights course held in collaboration with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute – a one-week program that supports lawyers from around the world working on human rights issues.

Vichuta Ly is one of the lawyers who participated in the fourth annual course on human rights conducted in January by Mannheimer Swartling and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. Participants in the weeklong program are selected on the basis of their professional achievements and have their travel and lodging sponsored. Many different regions and legal systems are represented and this year’s session included lawyers from Turkmenistan, China, Malawi and El Salvador.

The program is an initiative to bring together the broad legal experience and knowledge of Mannheimer Swartling with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s experience in expertise and co-operation within the international system for protecting human rights. The course is held at Mannheimer Swartling’s offices, several of the firm’s lawyers participate in the session, and a number of partners are involved as lecturers and guides to local legal institutions. A new feature of this year’s program was inviting clients to participate in a day of seminars that focused on Corporate Social Responsibility. Mannheimer Swartling presented the need for companies to integrate CSR into their business models in order to achieve sustainability and representatives from IKEA, SOS-Children’s Villages, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United Nations Global Compact presented how their organizations address Corporate Social Responsibility.

"Our commitment is important in several ways: we are helping to highlight different aspects of human rights and we are supporting talented and courageous lawyers from different parts of the world in their work in this area. This program is of great value for Mannheimer Swartling because our effort in this project involves many of the firm’s practice groups and serves to unite us and strengthen our corporate culture. In terms of recruitment, it is also important because many young lawyers are passionate about these issues and want to work for an employer who shares their values," says Michael Karlsson, partner and co-founder of this initiative.

This year’s program focused on three themes: Fair Trial, Corporate Social Responsibility and Freedom of Expression. The main objectives of the session are for participants to enhance their knowledge in these subjects, to become informed about the international tools available, and to share their experiences in human rights work with each other. Equally important is that the participants get a chance to network and support each other in their continued efforts in this area.

- During this intensive week, we have become like sisters and brothers. We have been able to speak freely with each other about topics that are often difficult to discuss in our respective countries. I now look forward to being able to take all the knowledge I have gained back to my organization and our future work," says Vichuta Ly.