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July 5, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here? World Justice Forum Participants Propose Projects to Advance the Rule of Law Worldwide

As the World Justice Forum drew to a close, participants were busy planning the next steps that would bring the ideas germinated at the Forum to fruition. Beginning with break-out sessions organized by professional disciplines, Forum delegates suggested and debated proposals to advance the rule of law.

From the professional discipline sessions, delegates took their refined ideas to one of 15 regional sessions, where they and colleagues from their region of the world finalized the proposals before sharing them with the entire body during the closing plenary sessions. Proposals will be reviewed by the World Justice Project for potential impact and appropriateness; originators are invited to apply for opportunity fund grants from the Project as seed money to get their endeavors started.

Some of the proposals include:

The South and Central Asia team would undertake a project to assess the accountability of its government and judiciary. The goal would be to make a comparative study of legislation in several areas: judicial appointments and disciplinary proceedings, contempt of court, anti-corruption and the right to information. A second proposal focused on the legal empowerment of the urban poor, intending to develop a legal framework, a community capacity and civil society support systems for this segment of the population.

A West African team proposed three projects. One is the Rule of Law Watch project, based on the premise that in many nations, people have no idea about what the rule of law entails. Thus, their project would seek to partner with local, national and regional media to create awareness about the rule of law and what it entails. It would do so through rule of law awareness messages to be disseminated through public service announcements and other formats. These would focus on such issues as the reproductive rights of women, corruption in the administration of justice, access to justice by the poor and the rights of casual workers.

A team from East Asia proposed a study on how migrant workers rights are affected by a lack of adherence to the rule of law. The group proposes to create a regional index of labor law and its enforcement as well as an online regional information center that will enhance the general awareness of labor laws and showcase the best practices in compliance with those laws.

The group from East Africa based their project on increasing the awareness by youth of the rule of law, focusing its efforts on primary and secondary schools. The outreach education would be completed by students, largely utilizing existing curricula. Because of the severity of their problems, the countries of Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda are targeted.

From a Western European team, a plan to convince the European Union to add legal safeguards to the process for freezing an individual’s assets during a terrorism investigation. The team plans to draft and submit an amicus curiae brief to the European Court of Justice in a relevant case and to open a dialogue with the EU to implement a means of legal appeal and recourse for affected individuals.

Two groups representing the United States, Canada and the Caribbean proposed similar ideas regarding reinstating civics education as a mainstay of the American public school curriculum, advocating its inclusion as a requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act. One group proposed the creation of a new civics syllabus to help educate students about their government and responsibility as citizens. The other suggested building alliances with other groups with similar interests and developing relationships with members of the U.S Congress to advocate their position.

Learn More About:  World Justice Project