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Building African Democracies with Books

Vice President Walter Mondale, who co-chairs the program with Kofi Annan,

Vice President Walter Mondale and Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, co-chairs of Books For Africa's Law and Democracy Initiative, attend meeeing announcing partnership between Books For Africa and Thompson Reuters.

As the dust settles after events in Tunisia and Egypt, the hard part of building true democracies from the ground-up has only just begun. Established rule of law, a thriving civil society, and a flourishing educational system will all be crucial to a successful outcome.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, democracy building is also ongoing. Depending on the country, how this happens in Sub-Sharan Africa is different than in the Middle East—in many cases, law schools and bar associations possess only a few old tattered law and human rights books. Aid for Africa member Books For Africa is working to change this. In partnership with Thomson Reuters, it will provide US $1.2 million worth of law books and materials to law schools in the region during the next several years. The partnership is in support of Books For Africa’s Law and Democracy Initiative, which was formed to further the rule of law in Africa. Vice President Walter Mondale, who co-chairs the program with Kofi Annan, voiced his hope that the law books would nurture home-grown respect for “the rule of law, including the right to vote in free and fair elections, or the right to establish a business without the threat of militia rule or extortion.” A key component of the program was selecting the more than 350 titles most critical to build resource libraries, supply classroom texts, and provide the necessary background sources on human rights. Law and Democracy Initiative Director Lane Ayres made the selection process her priority.

As part of its overarching goal to combat illiteracy, Books For Africa has shipped more than 20.5 million textbooks and library books to 45 African countries since 1988.