SAMUEL KOFI WOODS, II 
SAINTS CLASS OF '81
- KEYNOTE SPEAKER -
 SFAA-USA 27th NATIONAL CONVENTION
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 27-30, 2022

Samuel-Kofi-Woods-II - Update.jpg

Samuel Kofi Woods, II

Saints Class of '81

Samuel Kofi Woods, II – human rights lawyer, development specialist, economist and astute administrator- is currently working as Legal Consultant of the Liberia Law Society (LLS) and previously served as the Minister of Public Works of the Republic of Liberia. Prior to his appointment in May of 2009, he served as Minister of Labor from 2006-2009. He had previously demonstrated and committed his life more than 35 years of human rights work in Liberia, Africa and the World.

 

Woods started as a youth activist in some of the slump communities of Liberia where he was borne and later became a student leader at the University of Liberia in 1986. He was imprisoned, banned from employment and travels by the regime of Samuel K. Doe in 1987 for his commitment to academic freedom and social justice. As a youth and student leader, he led the re-organization of the national student movement and championed the call for academic freedom and social justice.

 

In 1991, Woods worked with the Catholic Bishops in Liberia to establish the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission which later became Liberia’s Foremost Human Rights Institution.

The Commission documented abuses during Liberia’s brutal civil war, represented indigent people including journalists and became the focus of human rights advocacy and established various regional structures throughout Liberia.

 

In 1997 he was involved with the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute based in the United States in conducting training for the network of local elections observers in Liberia and served with the Carter Center Observers Mission as an observer during elections in Kenya in December 2002.

 

After several threats to his life, Woods left for exile in 1998 and studied in the Netherlands where he earned a Masters’ Degree in Public International Law (emphasis Human Rights and Humanitarian Law) from Leiden University and

 

received various academic diplomas. In 2001, Woods joined the International Human Rights Law Group now Global Rights based in Washington DC and traveled to Sierra Leone to assist with the setting up as well as supporting efforts on the transitional justice process (Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Special Court).

 

In 2002, he founded the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) where he served as Regional Representative until being asked to join the Government of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2006. FIND is a regional organization which he founded in June 2002 to focus on the plight of refugees and displaced communities in the Mano River Region (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). FIND has offices in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

 

Woods has pursued a case of precedence against the Liberian Government with the African Commission Human and People’s Rights on behalf of detained journalists in Liberia in 2002 and in 2005 he was part of local Liberian Organizations who filed the first international lawsuit against the Firestone Rubber Company on child and exploitative labor in Liberia.

 

In 1994 Woods received the Reebok Human Rights Award for work as a Human Rights Lawyer while serving as National Director of the Catholic Justice and Peace commission in Liberia.

In 1999 he received the Benemerenti Award of Merit from Pope John Paul II for service to humanity. In 2004 he was honored by the Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In addition, he has been honored in several capacities and received an award from the American Bar Association, among others. Additional information about Mr. Woods can be found on various Websites including: www.speaktruthtopower.org,  www.reebok.org,   www.globalrights.org, www.worldnews.com,www.daylife.com,www.mpw.gov.lr, www.afraf.oxfordjournal.org, www.allafrica.com, etc.

 

As Minister of Labour, Mr. Woods championed reforms in the Liberian Labour Sector including changes in Labour Law Reforms that eventually produced the Decent Work Act of Liberia, National Employment Policy, improved working conditions, institutional development and strengthening International and Regional Cooperation on behalf of the Government of Liberia. Under his leadership, Firestone, Liberia’s largest rubber plantation is undergoing

 

transformation with a new concession agreement and the first democratic elections for a workers union in more than 80years.

 

In May 2009, Woods was appointed as Ministry of Public Works as Minister. In this position, he has initiated and carried through several reforms in both the administrative and operational setting of the Ministry. His reform agenda has seen the Ministry gradually transformed from an implementing entity to that of a regulatory agency ensuring that both international and local contractors provide best value-for -money services to the Liberian nation and people.

 

In less than seven month in this capacity, Woods has ensured that road has finally entered the once notorious Belle Yella prison enclave indicating how wasted energy should have been used to bring development and dignity to the Liberian people instead of imprisonment and other forms human degradation.

 

Owing to his passion and desire to serve his country, Minister Woods unlike so many, has been out in the field ensuring that current roads and infrastructure rehabilitation nation-wide is on course and that quality work is done.

 

The Ministry was drastically reformed and made a dramatic turn and is now living up to its constitutional mandate of being the frontline public agency responsible for roads and infrastructure development in this post conflict country.

 

Under his leadership, several roads and infrastructures were rehabilitated in Monrovia and its environs while at the same time similar numbers of feeder roads spread across rural Liberia are equally undergoing transformation so as to ease the transportation difficulties of travelers and accelerate socio-economic development. It took on a new dimension and trend deeply horned on dedication, commitment and result-oriented actions that speak to a high quality regulatory structure and system, prudent and sound resource management and well- rounded cadre of both administrative and technical professionals committed to serving their country in the most organized, consistent and cost-effective context thus relieving the developmental anxiety of the general citizenry in Liberia’s new democratic dispensation.

 

In the midst of the heightening threats of EBOLA in the Mano River Union in 2015, Woods served as Good-will Ambassador for Save the Children - Netherlands and was assisted in mobilizing close to 30 million dollars worth of medical supplies and equipment.

 

Woods is currently serving as Legal Consultant of the Liberia Law Society in Liberia. The Society is a consortium of Lawyers and Law Firms dedicated to using the law as a vehicle for social transformation. It provides and engages in strategic litigations on human and women rights, law reforms, engages the ECOWAS Court based in Abuja, addresses issues of land and inheritance rights especially for traditional women.