Global Human Rights Defence

Liberia’s gbi-doru district and its need for development

Liberia and its counties

Liberia, situated in Western Africa, is home to fifteen administrative counties with sixteen officially recognized ethnic groups. The sixteen ethnic groups are the Belle (Bella/Kuwaa), Bassa, Grandi, Krahn, Vai, Kissi, Kru, Gola, Gio (Dan), Mandingo, Mende, Mano (Ma), Grebo, Loma, Dei (Dey), and Kpelle, being the largest ethnic group situated in central and western Liberia.

Nimba County is the largest county of Liberia situated in the northeast, sharing borders with Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. The county seat is in Sanniquellie, northeast of Nimba. Nimba county consists of seventeen districts, and as of the latest official census of 2008, about 462.026 people reside in the county. The county is represented by two senators and nine representatives at the legislative branch of the government.

The Gbi-Doru District

The Gbi-Doru district is one of the seventeen districts of Nimba County. Gbi-Doru is an immensely forested land located south of Nimba, bordering the Rivercess and Grand Gedeh counties. The people of the district speak a mix of the Bassa and Gbi languages. The Gbi-Doru is part of the Tappita Statutory district, which is also where the people of Gbi-Doru pay their taxes. Prior to being part of Tappita in 1938, the people of Gbi-Doru were obliged to pay their taxes in Buchanan, located on the west coast of the country, which resulted in deaths as people had to travel for three weeks to reach Buchanan from Gbi-Doru, due to the old mandate that taxes must be paid in that city. In addition, the harsh conditions of the weather and river-crossing faced by the citizens of Gbi-Doru resulted in fatalities. Now being part of Tappita City, the Gbi-Doru citizens would still have to walk for nine hours or drive for roughly five to six hours to pay their taxes.

Photo from: WordSower Liberia

The Gbi-Doru’s Integration in Nimba

The people of Gbi-Doru have expressed their need for independence due to the underdevelopment of the district in their pleas to the government in the past decades. According to their latest petition to President Weah in February 2021, the Gbi-Doru indicated their exclusion from opportunities given to other districts in Nimba. Unlike the other districts, Gbi-Doru does not enjoy the same development of roads, schools, health centers, and housing units. However, the citizens of Gbi-Doru stated that this exclusion is not a ‘willful’ and ‘premeditated design’ of Nimba’s leadership. According to the people of Gbi-Doru, the relatively large distance between their district and Nimba county’s seat, the city of Sanniquellie, is the reason for the Gbi-Doru’s underdevelopment. In response to the Gbi-Doru’s plea, Liberia’s President Weah, during his tour of the country on 18 February 2021, made promises to undertake several projects to develop the district by constructing schools, health centers, and housing units.

Photo of President Weah visiting the Gbi-Doru district from KTV Liberia 

Consequences to the right to education

The underdevelopment of the Gbi-Doru has had dire consequences on the children’s right to education. The state of education in several towns in the Gbi-Doru district is poor. In the town of Kidka, in the Gbi-Doru district, the only elementary school in the town is in dilapidated condition and suffers from a severe shortage of teachers. Kidka town has 110 students with only one teacher tending to them, which affects the quality of education given to the children. Tiah is located southwest of the Gbi-Doru district. The town had no school buildings until the International Consultant Capital, a logging firm operating in Gbi-Doru, built a six-classroom elementary school building. This became the first modern school building in the Gbi-Doru district. The children of Gbi-Doru, especially in Tiah town, have not received proper education. Therefore, rather than going to school, they learn their parent’s trades: hunting, gold mining, and farming. In another Gbi-Doru district town named Unification, the only elementary school is in dilapidated condition with 165 students and only two teachers. The school building suffers from rainwater leaking through the roofs, so classes get canceled when there is heavy rain.

Photo: School in Kidka Town, Gb-Doru from Public Trust Media Group Liberia

The right to education is an important right enshrined in international law, such as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which recognizes the right to education under Article 28. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), in Article 11, sets out the right to education of every child and prescribes that the State must fully realize this right by providing adequate conditions and tools for education. As a state party to the aforementioned regional and international treaties, Liberia has the moral responsibility to respect, fulfill, and protect the children’s right to education. This would include building the proper infrastructure and providing educational material in the district of Gbi-Doru. 

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, welcomed Liberia’s Education Reform Act of 2011 through their latest concluding observations. Liberia’s Education Reform Act of 2011 aims to ensure the provision of quality education to all children between the ages of 3-15. However, implementation of the CRC and the Education Reform Act is yet to be seen in the country. Specifically, the UN Committee is concerned with the unavailability of reconstructed schools and the lack of trained teachers in many rural areas in Liberia. Therefore, the UN Committee recommends Liberia allocate more funds to building school facilities, services, and training and increase schools’ availability at all levels, particularly in the rural areas.

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) is the regional committee promoting and protecting the rights enshrined in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. They concluded in 2019 during their visit to Liberia that there is a lack of school structure for children and children with disabilities in rural areas. The ACERWC urged the Liberian government to implement an inclusive education policy that ensures that all children in urban and rural areas enjoy their right to education.


The Gbi-Doru district, throughout the years, has suffered from slow assimilation and integration within Nimba County. Although the people of Gbi-Doru did not blame the county’s authorities, it is clear that the Gbi-Doru district does not benefit from an equitable share of Nimba’s resources. The Gbi-Doru district is consequently lacking in essential and adequate infrastructures such as roads, bridges, health centers, and schools. The underdevelopment demonstrated in the Gbi-Doru district carries a tragic consequence: the impediment of the children’s right to education.

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Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.


Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.