The African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) is a continent-wide network of African civil society organizations working to promote access to justice, universal human rights, the rule of law and legal aid for marginalised and poor communities.
The objective of establishing an African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice was to develop a place that would serve as a memorial to the struggles for social justice of Africa’s people and carry forward the traditions of African and international practices and thought leadership in how best to craft a vision for a society that upholds human dignity and affords justice beyond the narrow legal conceptions to the most vulnerable sectors of society.
The Center was also intended to be internationalist in nature, embodying Africa’s pursuit of justice for all while also bringing lessons and experiences from efforts in other parts of the world that have kept the flag of legal empowerment, the rule of law and access to justice flying, with a specific bias and emphasis on indigent African knowledge about justice and redress.
To make this concept a reality, respected human rights advocates interested in empowering marginalized and underprivileged communities and advancing access to justice on the African continent got together to establish a center that would later become the “African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice” (ACE-AJ).
From informal meetings, these activists moved to formalize the concept by signing a Memorandum of understanding between the organisations called the “founding members” and the organisation that would host the secretariat of the Centre, incubating it for some years.
These organisations are:
- The Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) (Malawi)
- Timap for Justice (Sierra Leone)
- Kituo cha Sheria (Kenya)
- The Legal Aid Forum (Rwanda)
- Community Advice Offices (South Africa) (CAOSA), the organisation born from the merger of the National Alliance for Development of Community Advice Offices (NADCAO) and the Association of Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA).
The current representatives of the founding members in alphabetical order:
- Andrews Kananga (Legal Aid Forum Rwanda)
- Simeon Koroma (Timap for Justice)
- Annette Mbogoh (Kituo cha Sheria)
- Clifford W. Msiska (PASI) – Chair
- Tshenolo Tshoaedi (CAOSA)