By Ali Mashraf

Operating in 26 different countries across the globe, the Network for International Law Students (NILS) is an international, independent, non-political and non-profit organization that contributes to the arena of legal education by hosting various competitions, workshops, seminars, conferences, webinars, residential school programs, delegation programs, legal aid activities and miscellaneous educational activities.

The Bangladesh Chapter, a prominent national chapter of NILS, has been successfully carrying out its operations in Bangladesh since 2016. In the working year 2017/18, the Bangladesh Chapter won the NILS Chapter of the Year Award for their excellent growth and commitment towards improving the quality of law education in Bangladesh, overcoming the likes of other formidable national chapters such as United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, South Africa, India etc.

While commenting on this mammoth achievement, Ms. Nasrin Sultana, President, NILS Bangladesh Chapter said, “We achieved this award due to our strong work ethic and commitment to contributing to the arena of legal education in Bangladesh as well as assisting Bangladeshi law students to develop their required skills and core competencies.”

Furthermore, referring to the appointment of Mr. Sheikh Habibur Rahman (Former Vice Present-Competitions of NILS Bangladesh Chapter) as the Secretary-General of NILS International, she stated that it was the first time that someone from Bangladesh got appointed to the International Board of NILS.

In total, 12 Bangladeshi law students have participated in different editions of the NILS Winter School held in New Delhi, India and one Bangladeshi law student took part in the NILS International Conference Arbitration in London, UK during this period. A glimpse of all the activities of NILS Bangladesh in the working year 2017/18 will easily answer the question as to why it won the NILS Chapter of the Year Award.

Right after its formation, NILS Bangladesh hosted the ‘Training Program on Legal Skill Development’ at University of Chittagong (CU) on May 19, 2017, where 400 participants gathered from 10 different universities of Bangladesh.

After the successful completion of its inaugural event, NILS Bangladesh created history by hosting the ‘1 st National Legal Debate Championship 2017’ in October 2017 under the theme-Color your life with law and logic. 24 teams from all over Bangladesh took part in this debate contest.

In November 2017, NILS Bangladesh hosted the ‘National Workshop on Legal Research and Advocacy Skills’ at East West University, where more than 100 students from 25 different universities across Bangladesh participated to hone their legal research, presentation, drafting and advocacy skills.

Prior to this, NILS Bangladesh began its ‘3-Month Long Moot Court Training Session’ for skill development of its registered members. The initiative gained so much traction and popularity that its second edition was also initiated in December 2017. Apart from that, NILS Bangladesh also organized the ‘Legal Awareness Program’ to spread awareness on law and legal issues among 1200 school students of Bangladesh.

At the beginning of 2018, NILS Bangladesh started its activities for the new year with renewed enthusiasm and vigor. It hosted the national career workshop for law students titled ‘Workshop on Career Opportunity: Way to Thriving Legal Industry’ at University of Chittagong on January 5, 2018, which was attended by 500 selected participants from more than 25 universities of Bangladesh. The event also provided internship opportunities to law students aspiring to take the next step in their legal careers.

After receiving tremendous positive response following the first edition of the ‘National Workshop on Legal Research and Advocacy Skills’, NILS Bangladesh hosted its second edition on January 26, 2018. For the first time, a Supreme Court Justice of Bangladesh, Justice S. M. Mozibur Rahman of the High Court Division graced an event of NILS Bangladesh as the chief guest.

As the world shockingly witnessed the horrors of the genocide carried out by the Myanmar army on the Rohingya community in Arakan, the NILS Southeast University Chapter promptly hosted the ‘Poster Presentation Competition on Genocide against Rohingya’ to raise awareness on human rights issues on March 4, 2018. Several teams from different universities of Bangladesh participated in this creative intellectual exercise, where different aspects of the Rohingya crisis were discussed and analyzed by the students.

NILS Bangladesh Chapter took its next stride by hosting the ‘International Conference on International Law’ in collaboration with East-West University from March 29-31, 2018. 29 experts from home and abroad assembled in this 3-day long conference to converse on contemporary issues, trends and challenges on various domains of international law.

Through these programs, NILS Bangladesh has created a strong rapport with law students, teachers, legal practitioners and judges of Bangladesh. Renowned personalities and legal luminaries like Justice S. M. Mozibur Rahman, Honorable Judge, Supreme Court of Bangladesh;

Professor Dr. Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury, Vice Chancellor, University of Chittagong; Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission; Professor Dr. Abdul Mannan, Chairman, University Grants Commission; Professor Dr. M. M. Shahidul Hasan, Vice Chancellor, East-West University; Professor Dr. A B M Abu Noman, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Chittagong; Professor Dr. Tureen Afroz, Prosecutor, International War Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh; Mr. Md. Masdar Hossain, Retired Senior District & Sessions Judge; Mr. Abu Saleh Sk. Md. Zahirul Haque, Secretary, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Professor Dr. Katherina Hoffman, University of Oldenburg, Germany; Professor Dr. Amal Pal Singh, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India etc. graced the events of NILS Bangladesh Chapter as distinguished guests and designated speakers.

Overall, NILS Bangladesh Chapter has hosted a total of 44 sessions on mooting, debating, preparation for the judiciary, leadership, organizational behaviour, legal aid awareness etc. all over Bangladesh during this period. In the upcoming days, NILS Bangladesh intends to carry out its various activities and undertake newer ventures to build the bridge between Bangladeshi law students and countless national and international opportunities for them at home and abroad.

Report prepared by Ali Mashraf, President, NILS University of Dhaka Chapter