ND Law Post-Doc Helps African Nation Transition to Democracy

Author: Susan Good

By: Melanie McDonald
Date: December 20, 2007

After more than a decade of civil war, the African nation of Burundi is on the path to democracy and rebuilding following the recent signing of a peace accord between the fighting Hutu rebels and Tutsi-controlled army. Right in the thick of that process is Notre Dame Law School’s Jean-Marie Kamatali, a senior postdoctoral research associate in the Law School’s Center for Civil and Human Rights.

A native of Rwanda, which borders Burundi to the north, Kamatali recently returned from a 16-day mission to assess the political and human rights situation in Burundi and begin developing a plan to train that country’s leaders on how to implement the rule of law in their war-torn country. “It was a very intensive few weeks,” says Kamatali, who worked to educate leaders about many matters, from freedom of expression and refugee issues to women’s rights and involving civil society in decision-making.

“The objective is, over the course of time, to help citizens create sustainable peace and order,” explains Kamatali. “I believe it will happen. The people there are fed up with war and crisis, and are willing to work for change.”

Kamatali was dean of the Law School at the National University of Rwanda from 1998-2002, where he made major contributions to rebuilding and reforming the legal community and justice system in his native Rwanda. Kamatali earned a bachelor’s degree and a license (US equivalent: JD) in law from the National University of Rwanda, a Master’s in Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a Doctorate in Law (US Equivalent: JSD) from the University of Graz (Austria). His research interests include domestic implementation of international human rights norms, international criminal law, genocide, and the African regional human rights system.

CONTACT: Jean-Marie Kamatali, 574-631-8555, kamatali.1@nd.edu