Brownell banner10.16.18 — The Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) has selected Alfred Brownell, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence in Northeastern University School of Law’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE), to receive its inaugural Beau Biden Chair. Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady of the United States, 2009–2017, presented the award to Brownell at the IIE’s annual gala in New York City on October 15.
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The Beau Biden Chair at the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships to preserve the lives and knowledge base of scholars who are in danger. It allows them to continue their academic careers by teaching and engaging in research at safe-haven universities in their home countries, so that they can continue to educate future generations and help rebuild their home countries after times of conflict.

One of Africas leading environmental and human rights defenders, Brownell has been in residence at Northeastern since in 2016 — he and his family were forced to flee his native Liberia after an attempt on his life in response to his leadership in protecting community land rights.

As a founder, CEO and lead campaigner at Green Advocates, Liberias first public-interest environmental law and human rights organization, Brownell has worked for 20 years as researcher, legal counsel and advocate for impoverished rural communities to ensure them a voice in decisions affecting their natural resources. In his field of research, Brownell has established the serious human rights impacts of large agribusiness activities, including the destruction of sacred sites, burial grounds, farmlands, forests and wetlands that serve as a primary source of food for local communities. He has also documented the deleterious impact on food security and on traditional subsistence farming practices prompted by the introduction of monocrop agriculture.

His most recent victory followed his seven-year struggle to stop the destruction of the tropical forest lands of poor communities and indigenous people in Liberia. The Appeal Panel of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) denied Golden Agric Resources appeal against complaints Brownell and his colleagues filed against this company in 2012 on behalf of communities and indigenous peoples in Liberia. “We have scored another big victory against the massive multi-billion-dollar oil palm giant, Golden Agric Resources,” said Brownell. “This is a massive victory for our communities, indigenous peoples and the Upper Guinean forests — the lungs of West and North Africa. Even though they threatened us, plotted assassination attempts against us and masterminded our exile from Liberia, we have shown them we can still fight and win,” said Brownell.

In July, Brownell was invited by The Carter Center to attend its Human Rights Defenders Forum, “Restoring Faith in Freedom.”  The Carter Center participates in hosting Human Rights Defenders Policy Forums, which bring together human rights activists from a number of countries. President and Mrs. Carter, the UN high commissioner for human rights and the special representative on human rights defenders have keynoted these conferences. 

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation's leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students an unparalleled full year of practical legal work. All students participate in full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 1,500 employers worldwide participating in the school's signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.

For more information, contact d.feldman@northeastern.edu.