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Cornell University, Thai Bar, and TIJ Sign Memorandum of Academic Cooperation to Upgrade Thailand’s Legal and Judicial Personnel
The Cornell Law School of the US-based Cornell University, the Thai Bar, and Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) inked a memorandum of agreement on 15 November 2021 for Thai lawyers to pursue a master’s degree at the Cornell Law School with scholarships from the Bajrakitiyabha Fund for Legal Education and also for a wider scope of academic cooperation on the exchange of personnel between the Cornell University and Thailand’s laws-related authorities.
At the signing ceremony, Mr. Stewart J. Schwab, a professor of law and a former dean of the Cornell Law School and Mr. Kittipong Kittayarak, a board member of the Bajrakitiyabha Fund for Legal Education and a TIJ advisor, recounted the history of collaborations between the Cornell Law School and Thailand’s legal sector.
“Bajrakitiyabha Fund for Legal Education”, which is under the Thai Bar’s supervision, was established in 2006. Its founder asked for H.R.H. Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati’s royal permission to name the fund after her so as to commemorate her time at the Cornell University. The princess, who was back then a granddaughter of the Thai king, had spent five years at the university. During the period, she had impressed many of its lecturers and students. Through exchanges of legal perspectives and experiences as well as her participation in various other activities at the campus, she has played a vital role in fostering ties between the Cornell University and Thailand’s legal sector. To date, the fund has already granted scholarships to 14 highly-capable Thai lawyers to further their education overseas. Bringing huge delight to the fund, these grantees have been returning to Thailand as quality personnel for the development of Thailand’s legal sector. They have now served as judges, public attorneys, and legal advisors.
Guided by her royal aspiration to serve the public and her focus on the rights of vulnerable groups including women and children during criminal-justice process, the princess chose to address the protection of the rights of the accused and defendants in judicial system in her doctoral dissertation during her years at the Cornell University. In 2010, she put her knowledge as the key basis for Thailand, in collaboration with several other nations, to push for the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders or “Bangkok Rules”.
To promote effective and sustainable compliance with the Bangkok Rules in support of the princess’ vision, the Thai government approved the establishment of TIJ. This public organization was expected to respond to the princess’ initiatives related to the application of the Bangkok Rules in Thai and international context. During her years as the Thai ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Austria and a member of the Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Vienna as well as her tenure as the goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the princess carried out royal works on crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law at national, regional and international levels.
The Cornell Law School of the US-based Cornell University and the Thai Bar has signed their memorandum of cooperation for the third time now, once every five years, so as to continue their shared missions. At the latest signing ceremony, TIJ has also stepped in as an additional party to the memorandum that focuses on expanding the scope of academic cooperation between Thailand’s legal sector and the Cornell Law School.
The signing ceremony for the Cornell Law School, the Thai Bar, and TIJ was held virtually. Representatives of the three parties were Ms. Piyakul Boonperm, president of the Supreme Court and the Thai Bar, Cornell Law School’s dean Mr. Jens David Ohlin, and TIJ executive director Mr. Phiset Sa-ardyen.
Ms. Piyakul said, “As a professional legal body that brings together lawyers from across all fields, the Thai Bar is proud of and committed to pursuing bilateral academic cooperation for the goal of upgrading the knowledge and development of personnel in legal professions. This goal has resonated with our key role and vision”.
Mr. Ohlin said, “The Bajrakitiyabha Scholarship has proven to be a model of successful legal exchange. The Cornell community has been substantially enriched by the contributions of our Thai students and we look forward to continued cooperation and exchange in the years to come.”
“The TIJ is committed to fulfilling our common goals of promoting academic and professional excellences for legal scholars and justice leaders through close dialogues and cooperation. The TIJ looks forward to working closely with the two institutes in the coming years”, Mr. Phiset said.
If you are interested in applying for a scholarship from the Bajrakitiyabha Fund for Legal Education”, please see further details at www.thethaibar.or.th.