Essays in honour of the Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman
Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) is going to publish an edited book with a collection of essays in honour of the Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman, an acclaimed human rights educationist of Bangladesh and the founding president of ELCOP. We solicit papers from academics, researchers, legal scholars and law students focusing on the diverse aspects of his life, activities, career and contributions to advance law and human rights education in Bangladesh, South Asia and beyond.
Prologue to the Publication
Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman is a celebrated name in the Bangladeshi legal fraternity for his exceptional and charismatic teaching qualities. We owe him a lot for his years of pragmatic activism in bringing about a paradigm shift in the legal and human rights education in Bangladesh. It is not an exaggeration to assert that Dr. Mizan has given life to the legal education in Bangladesh. He not only taught law as a classroom lesson but took it beyond classroom boundaries to widen the eyes of his students to see the lived realities of the poor people and interpret law through the prism of human rights and constitutional aspirations. His teaching philosophy genuinely inspired many generations of his students to become what he famously coined as ‘anti-generic’ or ‘rebellious’ human rights advocates to fight injustice and stand by the poor and marginalized people of the society. His contributions to nourish and develop legal education thoroughly reflected his desire to see a pro-poor justice system in Bangladesh. His visionary law teaching and relentless efforts to shape country’s legal education sought to achieve the ultimate aim of advancing the legal empowerment of the backward sections of people. His continued struggle for changing the lives of the poor through pro-poor human rights education not only shaped the legal academia in Bangladesh but also inspired the development of legal education in countries across South Asian region. His role the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh manifested his unwavering commitment to translate the rhetoric of human rights into a reality in Bangladesh.
Dr. Mizan is a Fulbright scholar. He completed a postgraduate degree in Comparative Legal System from Stockholm University, Sweden. He achieved LLM, PhD and diploma in journalism from the Friendship University, Moscow. In late eighties, he started his teaching career at Rajshahi University. He later joined Dhaka University in 1989. His teaching excellence has surpassed national boundary and earned him the most prestigious ‘Professor N. R. Madhava Menon Best Law Teacher Award 2010’ for his outstanding contribution to legal academia in SAARC region. Most of his scholarly works focused on the human-rights and socio-legal vulnerabilities of the most deprived and marginalized communities in Bangladesh. His works hugely enriched the legal and human rights literature in Bangladesh. He served as a visiting Professor at several universities in Asia, Europe, America and Africa. He is famously known as the forerunner of the clinical legal education in Bangladesh. To create lawyers well imbued with the knowledge and spirit of human rights, he introduced several innovative and practical courses on human rights for the Bangladesh Bar Council. He made the very first attempt to break the longstanding silos between bar, bench and academia in Bangladesh by introducing the Professional Legal Education in Bangladesh as a continuing legal education programme of the Bangladesh Bar Council. Although the programme was short-lived but it undoubtedly set the stepping-stone towards the future transformation of legal education in Bangladesh. The legal education and the legal practice as a whole underwent significant positive changes soon after the commencement of this programme under the stewardship of Dr. Mizan.
Dr. Mizan founded Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) in 1999. Since its inception, the institution is promoting clinical legal education through human rights training, research, legal aid and legal awareness programs. Under these programs law students are trained to work on connecting the missing links between the society and law. Human Rights Summer School (HRSS) stands out as one of the unique programs ELCOP runs on a yearly basis. Summer School is designed as an international residential human rights training participated by law students from different parts of the world, mostly from South Asian law schools. Dr. Mizan revolutionized the concept of ‘Rebellious Lawyering’ through his HRSS model of learning. Since the commencement of the HRSS, Dr. Mizan has successfully transformed many law students into social engineers well equipped with the practical tools to interpret and apply laws to the broader social aspects. Today, students of Dr. Mizan are working in many sectors in the justice system including the public administration with demonstrated commitment to uphold the spirit of human rights and serve underprivileged people form their respective capacities. As a follow-up program of HRSS, Dr. Mizan initiated a Community Law Reform (CLR) program to train a group of selected participants from the HRSS to conduct research on marginalized and underprivileged communities in Bangladesh with a view to understanding the role of law in their lives and to promote legal empowerment of the community by making recommendations for law reforms. In recognition of its transformative role in improving the state of legal education in South Asia, ELCOP received the South Asian Excellence Award for Legal Education in 2018 awarded jointly by the SILS and the Menon Institute.
Dr. Mizan also popularized pro bono and legal outreach activities in Bangladesh through introducing street law program. Street law gives the opportunity to the law students to conduct human rights and basic legal literacy programs to spread awareness among the common people including the school going children. It enables the law students to perform their social responsibilities as a vital part of the legal community. ELCOP trained a significant number of law students from different public and private universities under the street law project. Through the above-mentioned programmes, Dr. Mizan has shown that legal community has a lot to offer to the nation and a socially relevant legal education as envisioned by him has the potential to deliver on this commitment. Dr. Mizan directed all his efforts to make a pragmatic shift in the legal education in Bangladesh from the frustratingly traditional methods of law-teaching plagued with mechanistic interpretations of law to a modern and socially geared law teaching dealing with real-world issues, advancing the interests of the powerless and vulnerable people. He at the same time emphasized on instilling the values of social justice, rule of law, humanity and basic civil freedoms in the law students. Dr. Mizan’s vision of teaching does not intend to produce mere trainee lawyers but well-equipped pro-poor lawyers capable of serving the needs of the most disadvantaged people in the justice system. This idea of pro-poor lawyering has been inspired by what he passionately preaches as ‘lawyering with the poor is lawyering for justice’ through the activities of ELCOP.
Dr. Mizan successfully served as the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh, twice from 2010-2016 and earned the trust and confidence of the people. Although his time as the first Chair of the Commission was challenging, yet he received widespread appreciation for his uncompromising and critical stance against government on many contentious instances of human rights violation. During his time in the Commission a visible change occurred in the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangladesh. Despite many institutional shortcomings and legal limits confronting the functions of the Commission, he had been able to set the benchmark through his leadership and commitment to fight for human rights. He played an instrumental role in promoting mass human rights awareness in Bangladesh. Dr. Mizan’s attempt to set up a South Asian human rights mechanism to address and deal with the common human rights challenges in the region appeared to be groundbreaking endeavor. Although it did not finally come to fruition due to a host of complex challenges, it certainly laid the foundation for future endeavors to establish such a mechanism.
Topics of the paper
The book will host a collection of scholarly essays in honour of Prof Rahman, focusing on, but not limited to, the below areas. The authors are at liberty to situate their topic in larger canvas of Prof Rahman’s legal philosophy.
- Law and Human Rights
- Legal Education in South Asia
- Teaching as a form of Law and Rights Activism
- Street Law
- Law Reform
- Human Rights Commission
- Rebellious Lawyering
- Empowerment of the Poor
Status of the Publication
ELCOP’s publications are highly regarded in legal fraternity of Bangladesh and beyond. On the satisfaction of an internal review by the ELCOP experts, the submissions will undergo a double peer-review process (both the reviewer’s name and author’s name remain anonymous to each other) before acceptance for publication. All other characters of a scholarly publication will be maintained in process. The book will be edited by Dr S M Masum Billah and Barrister Tapas Kanti Baul.
The paper should be written in between 5000-8000 words including footnotes. In case of an extraordinary paper, however, the Editorial Board may make an exception.
Presentation and Style Information
The text should be written in 12 fonts (Times New Roman), 1.25 spaced. The footnotes are written in 10 fonts, single spaced. The publication adheres to Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) for referencing style. Please visit for details:
Footnotes to the title and author(s)’ names should be designated as *, † etc and footnotes to the text should be designated as 1, 2, 3 etc. The asterisked footnote should give the author’s position, institutional address and any brief acknowledgements if required.
The authors should agree to grant an exclusive license to ELCOP permitting it to reproduce and/or disseminate the author’s contribution or elements of it. In signing the license, the authors retain the right to use their own material and ELCOP asks that its publication is acknowledged as the original place of publication.
Submission Deadline and Rules
Papers should be submitted as an electronic form (in word format) either in CD or as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15th February 2021. The subject line of the email should write “ELCOP Publication on Prof M Rahman” on the top. The deadline for sending your manuscript is: 15th February 2021 (Monday).
All submissions should be accompanied by a statement that the material is not under consideration elsewhere, and that it has not been published or is not pending publication elsewhere.
Questions and clarifications may be addressed to:
Tapas Kanti Baul, Barrister-at-Law
Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP)