Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative

In Africa, law schools and bar associations often have only a few old, tattered law books. A few have no books at all. Imagine the challenge of creating a civil society when students and lawyers have no access to the fundamental texts on which the rule of law is based.

Books For Africa launched the Law & Democracy Initiative to address this emerging continent’s appalling scarcity of law and human rights books, and by doing so to further the rule of law in Africa. This effort builds on our success as the world’s largest shipper of donated text and library books to Africa.

Thomson Reuters and numerous law firms and law schools have generously agreed to donate the needed texts. The Advocates for Human Rights provides key human rights material.

Since 2008, the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative of Books For Africa has shipped 72 law and human rights libraries to 20 African countries. See where the books have been sent.

The Law & Democracy Initiative is named to honor the late Jack Mason, a federal magistrate judge and Books For Africa board member.

Your financial support will allow the Law & Democracy Initiative to send these books to African law schools, bar associations, and other legal entities. Please help us end the law book shortage in Africa!

Please type "Law & Democracy" in the Comments field of the donation form.

 What kinds of law books are we looking for? View our Law Book Donation Requirements.

For more information on how you can help end the law book shortage in Africa, please contact director Lane Ayres at (612) 616-5661 or lanebfa@gmail.com

Special thanks to Thomson Reuters, and to Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, major sponsors of the Law & Democracy Initiative. Thanks also to the Manhattan firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, which provides periodic pro bono legal assistance to the Law & Democracy Initiative.


 Akintola Anthony Akinbote Esq.Books For Africa and it's Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative extend heart-felt condolences to the family and colleagues of Akintola Akinbote on his untimely passing on February 19, 2013. At the time of his death he was the Secretary General of the Pan-African Lawyer's Union and has been one of strongest advocates for the rule of law in all of the continent of Africa. During 2010-2012 Akin was a prominent member of the Advisory Board of the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative of Books For Africa. The Advisory Board is headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former US Vice President Walter Mondale. Current Advisory Board member Yvonne Fiadjoe, Senior Counsel for the African Development Bank, said of Akin, "Africa has lost a true luminary. It is a sad day for the continent. "

The Pan-African Lawyer's Union (PALU) is the umbrella association of African Lawyers and Law Societies. It brings together the continent's 5 regional and 54 national Lawyer's Associations, as well as individual lawyer and jurists. The mission of PALU is to work towards the development of the legal profession, the rule of law, human rights, and the socio-economic development of the continent.

Beyond the mission of Books For Africa (BFA) to end the book famine in Africa, the mission of our Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative is to further the rule of law across Africa. In active partnership with Thomson Reuters, BFA sends prepackaged latest-edition legal resource libraries to African law schools, law societies, and human rights and women's NGO's across the continent.

With heart-felt sadness, Secretary General Akinabote's obituary is added below.

"The President and Members of the Executive Committee of the Pan African Lawyers Union regret to announce the demise of the Secretary-General of the Pan African Lawyers Union Akintola Anthony Akinbote Esq.

"Mr. Akinbote lost his battle against a kidney dysfunction on Tuesday, 19th February 2013.

"Although we were aware of the severity of his illness, his death has however come as a great shock to us.

"Throughout his career, Mr. Akinbote, a dedicated Pan Africanist, was at the forefront of the fight for the independence of Bar Associations and the rights of advocates on the continent and beyond. He held numerous positions that testify his dedication and commitment and to the advancement of the legal profession.

"He was, amongst other things, the Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, President of the OHADA Club - Nigeria, [member] of the Advisory Board of the Law and Democracy Initiative of Books for Africa [which is co-chaired by Kofi Annan and Walter Mondale] and most recently, the Secretary-General of PALU.

"Mr. Akinbote represented victims before domestic and international Courts and Tribunals, most notably before the International Criminal Court at The Hague, for the Nigerian civilian victims of the attack on the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) peacekeepers in Darfur.

"Inspired by OHADA, he also strongly advocated for English-speaking countries of Africa "to have political resolve and espouse the ideals of uniformity" in African corporate law. In many ways [his] fervent belief in strengthening PALU has everything to do with his belief that the Unity of the African continent could be jump-started by the harmonization of legal systems.

"A fervent Christian, loving husband and beloved father, Mr. Akinbote leaves a wife and four children behind.

"PALU and many members of the legal community in Nigeria and continent-wide will greatly miss this legal luminary.

"We pray that his soul finds a perfect resting place and that his family galvanizes their residual strength to continue life’s journey."










Co-chairs Kofi Annan and Walter Mondale at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 2009.

Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative Advisory Board


Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary-General
Walter Mondale, former U.S. Vice President

Fatou Bensouda,Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, The Hague
Chris Bercaw, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney
John Bessler, Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law
Neneh Cham, President, Female Lawyers Association-Gambia
Michael Ciresi, Partner, CiresiConlin
Chris Coleman, Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota
Eric Cooperstein, Past President, Hennepin County Bar Association
Judge Michael Davis, Chief Judge, Federal District of Minnesota
James E. Dorsey, Co-founder, Advocates for Human Rights, Fredrikson firm
Yvonne Fiadjoe, Legal Manager, Ghana National Gas Company
Chris Fomunyoh, Africa Director, National Democratic Institute DC
Barbara Frey, Director, University of Minnesota Human Rights Program
Sam Hanson, Partner, Briggs & Morgan, former MN Supreme Court Justice
Stephen Hayes, CEO, Corporate Council on Africa, D.C.
Christof Heyns, Dean, U of Pretoria Law School; Human Rights author
Christina Holder, Attorney, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, NYC
Vivian Mason, Former Member, Minnesota Board of Law Examiners
Olufunmi Oluyede, ABA International Law Section, Lagos, Nigeria
Tom Pfeifer, Global Head of Sales, Thomson Reuters Legal
Steve Pfeiffer, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright, DC 
Warren Spannaus, Former Minnesota Attorney General
Korir Sing'Oei, Litigation Director, Katiba Institute, Nairobi, Kenya
Arnold Tsunga, Africa Director, International Commission of Jurists, Geneva
Georgina Wood, Chief Justice, Ghana Supreme Court


Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative
Lane Ayres, JD, Director
(612) 616-5661 • lanebfa@gmail.com
c/o Books For Africa
253 East 4th Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55101 USA

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