Boos will serve as an advisory counsel for international law division
by Laurie Krasin
UW-Fond du Lac philosophy professor Eric Boos, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M., has received an international appointment with the African Union to serve as an advisory counsel for their international law division. This appointment recognizes his long term work in Tanzania as a Fulbright Scholar since 2003 on land tenure laws, the rights of women and pastoralists, and most recently human rights issues related to albinos.
Boos, his wife Dr. Karene Boos, and their children, have been to Tanzania numerous times over the past 17 years.
Boos recently taught a law class at St. Augustine University in Mwanza, Tanzania, as part of his work as a Fulbright Scholar. He used the human rights issues related to albino children as a class project in international human rights law. His efforts were noticed and the president of the international law division of the African Union, Adelardus Kilangi, asked Boos to join as an advisory counsel to the Union for the duration of his term.
“A chance to advise the international law division (of the African Union) is a remarkable opportunity,” said Boos. “The future of the planet runs through Africa.”
Boos explained that Africa has the resources the planet must share in the future. “Africa has the largest untilled tracts of arable soil left on the planet. Africa has one of the world’s largest supplies of untainted fresh water in its Great Lakes. Africa has the largest supply of precious metals and minerals that the world so desperately needs for its future.”
His first two research projects for the African Union International Law Division will be on developing
a context for non-proliferation treaties and human rights advances for albinos. “The right way to access Africa’s great resources is through political, economic and social relations that put Africa’s people first and shore up the unstable politics so the independent nations can compete openly in the global market,” said Boos. “Hence, the best we can do to position ourselves to have strong relations with African nations and open trade agreements is to procure the rights of individuals and groups within African countries and cultures.... and an advisory role which deals with international law and human rights is a great start.”
Though the albino issue is the most recent target of his scholarship in Africa, Boos believes it was really a combination of his long term commitment to several human rights issues that drew the attention of Kilangi. “The commitment to the albino children really just sealed the deal because then he (Kilangi) saw that my concern is really for human rights and therefore as an advisor on international law he could be fairly certain I didn’t have a hidden agenda.”
During his most recent time in Tanzania, Boos not only taught the college law course, he also worked to help create a safe haven for albinos in a village near the western gate to Serengeti National Park. The safe haven is needed because albinos are believed to be demons or bad spirits and it is believed that their body parts have supernatural powers. “They are actually hunted and mutilated with their body parts used in witchcraft. They live in daily fear and a normal life is impossible,” said Boos. “In the last year alone, there have been more than 250 albinos murdered or mutilated.”
It was through the class that Boos met Bonifice, a 6 foot-5 inch college student and albino, whose story moved Boos to action. “I didn’t expect to take up an international human rights project in coming to Mwanza this time,” said Boos. “Thanks to Bonifice, I am, happily, I think, stuck with a new cause.”
Boos has been a philosophy professor at UW-Fond du Lac since 2008 and has an extensive range of teaching experiences in a variety of colleges and universities. He is a licensed attorney with experience in litigation and international law. UW-Fond du Lac students awarded Boos the Teaching Excellence Award in 2010, 2011and 2012.
Dr. Eric Boos with Sister Helena Ntambulwa, a Catholic nun he and his wife sponsored to attend Edgewood College in Madison from 2000 to 2004. She is the director of the albino home in Lamadi, Tanzania, and takes care of 30 albino children and some handicapped children. Sister Helena has a degree in education, is a Tanzanian and is a member of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa (IHSA). Boos says she is the driving force behind the albino mission. They are standing next to the foundation for the new dormitory being built for the children in Lamadi village where the government has given them 10 acres for the project.
“Eventually, we hope to raise $450,000 to complete the campus for the children and help them become self-sufficient, sustainable, and profitable,” said Boos. “Along with raising money, I will also set up an organic, sustainable, and profitable farm for them - which is my real passion. Our long range goal is to make this campus a model for other such campuses in east Africa, and work toward raising awareness of albinism so that eventually the albinos can integrate into society more easily.”