GBA President Welcome Address

The dawn of a New Year is always a special time: an opportunity to reflect on and take stock of the events in our lives and nation, and a chance to look forward into the coming year. The GBA notes that while 2015 has been a challenging year in the history of our profession and nation, 2016, will mark a significant milestone in our democratic journey, affording us an opportunity to achieve things that we could not achieve in 2015.

As we take stock of the events in our lives and that of the nation, we should be reminded of the vanguard and leadership role that lawyers are expected to play in the defence of Democracy, in the Rule of Law, and in attaining the promise of liberty for all persons regardless of wealth and social status. We should also not lose sight of the hardship experienced by many people in the country and across the globe in these hard economic times.

In the New Year, we should be committed to working towards further entrenching democracy in Ghana. We should resolve to support the Rule of Law and the opening up the governance processes in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

The year 2016, being an election year, we, as members of the Bar, should pledge our collective support to the Electoral Commission and the Electoral Process. We encourage members of the Bar to volunteer to be trained for electoral duties and to commit ourselves to assist the EC in other capacities, so that together, we can contribute to successful Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.

During 2015, there were reports of human rights violations, threats to the peace and other forms of physical and institutional violence. As lawyers, we are specially placed to understand that democracy is under threat if human rights, peace and justice cannot be assured for all. In this regard, it was heartening to see many of our colleagues taking up public interest cases, defending the cause of the underprivileged and employing the law to promote good governance. We encourage all members to be fearless social activists committed to matters of social justice and the public interest.

We encourage our colleagues to conduct more public interest and pro bono cases, and also make their services available during the criminal assizes. Let us respond to the plight of the poor, marginalized and underprivileged with warmth and continue to offer a helping hand to them. Our response to the needs of the weak, poor, marginalized and underprivileged among us, will certainly impact the image of the Bar.

Our world is changing and global warming has become one of its major challenges. In just the past few days, we have witnessed unpleasant and severe weather conditions that have caused flooding, deaths and destruction in some parts of the world attributable to the El Nino weather phenomenon. Back home, the recent dusty winds that have enveloped many parts of the country, including Accra, leading to the recent suspension of domestic flights, sharply remind us of the need to take issues of the environment more seriously than we have done in the past.

In this regard, the GBA calls for massive afforestation and re-afforestation programs along the length and breadth of Ghana. Specifically, we encourage our members as role models and opinion leaders to lead in efforts to plant trees, conserve water bodies and aquatic life, and to ensure compliance at all times with the environmental laws of the country. We also call on the Environmental Protection Agency and other relevant government agencies to step up their efforts in combating environmental degradation. Together, we can all fight for the cause of the environment to our mutual benefit.

As we enter the New Year, the GBA is encouraged to note that we have remained committed to the democratic path. However, there is the need for us to continue to take inspiration from the ideals and aspirations in our Fourth Republican Constitution as we seek to assure a better life for the citizens and residents of Ghana. It is the hope of the GBA that the ideals of the Constitution can inspire us all in our shared journey to build a better future for ourselves, our children and generations yet unborn.

The GBA wishes you all a prosperous and peaceful New Year.
God Bless us all!

Benson Nutsukpui
National President

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