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Journalist and academic Baba Galleh Jallow will join Harvard Law School as its inaugural Roger D. Fisher fellow this summer, the school announced in a press release last week.
The fellowship, named after HLS professor and Harvard Negotiation Project co-founder Roger D. Fisher ’43, seeks to support individuals in their work to advance the field of negotiation and conflict resolution.
“I’m honored to be the inaugural Fisher fellow, and I’m looking forward to doing just what the fellowship requests, which is to build on the legacy and the work of Roger Fisher and to keep his memory alive,” Jallow said in an interview Wednesday.
During Jallow’s journalistic career, Gambia’s intelligence agency often arrested Jallow for his editorials criticizing military officer Yahya Jammeh’s rule after Jammeh led a coup and seized control of the presidency.
Jallow began his career in journalism writing for the Gambian newspaper the Daily Observer. He later left to start his own newspaper, the Independent, in 1999 after an associate of Jammeh purchased the Daily Observer.
In 2000, the Gambian government declared Jallow to be non-Gambian, and he subsequently left Gambia for the United States, where he continued writing and began teaching.
Jallow said that he continued writing despite government backlash due to his belief that he was “on the side of the truth.”
“When I went out of the country, it offered me even a greater opportunity to write because I was now away from the guns and the boots and the cells, the jail,” Jallow said.
After Jammeh was removed from power, Jallow returned to Gambia, serving as a visiting professor at the University of The Gambia. From 2018 to 2021, he also served as executive secretary of Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Committee, a commission tasked with investigating human rights violations that took place during Jammeh’s rule.
For the last three years, Jallow has also been a guest in the Law School’s Transitional Justice Seminar run by HLS instructor Lisa K. Dicker. In the school’s press release, Dicker said that Jallow was “truly incredible” with her students.
“His emphasis is always on how the students should see themselves as agents of change in unjust systems and on the necessity of justice, in all its forms,” she said.
In his one-year appointment as Fisher fellow, Jallow said that he intends to share his experiences and contribute to the fields of transitional justice and African studies.
“I definitely would like to teach a course or co-teach courses on transitional justice in Africa or around the world, because that’s what I’ve been doing all along,” he said.
Jallow said he also wants to work with Harvard’s Center for African Studies, as well as similar programs at neighboring institutions in the Boston area.
In addition to research and teaching, Jallow said that he plans to participate in the Harvard Negotiation Project and hopes to organize a periodic Roger D. Fisher memorial lecture that hosts speakers who are experts in negotiation and conflict resolution.
“I’m looking forward to speaking to my great colleagues at Harvard Law School and learning from them and getting more ideas so we can have a very good group of activities that we can do within the year,” Jallow said.
In the school’s press release, HLS Dean John F. Manning ’82 called Jallow a “leader and pioneer for justice and peace in The Gambia.”
“I know that our community will learn a great deal from the productive discussions and collaborations Dr. Jallow will foster on questions of negotiation and transitional justice,” Manning said.
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