Loyola University Chicago

Rule of Law for Development Institute

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Roundtable on Strengthening Rule of Law Capacity, Leadership

In June 2014, a group of high-level rule of law and development specialists met informally in Washington, DC, at the invitation of Loyola’s PROLAW program to initiate a policy discussion on the merits of refocusing some of the current assistance aimed at building the rule of law on strengthening rule of law capacity, ownership, and local leadership rather than on improving specific features of given legal systems.  The roundtable was hosted by the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University to which Loyola expresses its appreciation.  Participants included:

James A. Goldston, Open Society Justice Initiative
Karen Hanrahan, U.S Department of State
Stuart Kerr, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Michael McCullough, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative
Hassane Cisse, World Bank
Javade Chaudhri, Jones Day and member of the PROLAW Advisory Board
Mark P. Lagon, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Mathew Caldwell,  Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Sarah Grebowksi, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service;
Muna B. Ndulo, Cornell University
David Saldivar, Oxfam America
William T. Loris, PROLAW, Loyola University Chicago
Michelle Hughes, PROLAW, Loyola University Chicago 

In the concept paper prepared for the meeting the argument was made that assistance directed at building national rule of law capacity, ownership and leadership is consistent with current aid effectiveness principles which prioritize national ownership and leadership and the development of effective institutions. Consistent with the outcomes of the Busan round of the aid effectiveness process, PROLAW argued that the establishment, maintenance and the ongoing improvement of the rule of law is a core governing function which should be carried out efficiently by local institutions and local actors.  PROLAW proposed that donors and assisted countries assistance specifically focused at building national rule of law capacity, ownership and leadership.

The roundtable participants were largely in agreement with the proffered model and the need to consider programming alternatives which focus on building local rule of law capacity ownership and leadership. They raised a number of issues which need further consideration and clarification and made a number of suggestions for moving the idea forward. The main outcome of the roundtable was that consensus was reached on the following statement:

National capacity, ownership and leadership are crucial enablers of the development of the rule of law.  National actors, advisors and donors should work to develop evidence-based programming and initiatives to advance such capacity, ownership and leadership.

Over the coming months as the international community continues to negotiate the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals process the PROLAW program will be advocating that language similar to the consensus statement be included in some form in the text to be adopted by the United Nations in September, 2015.  PROLAW invites those interested in joining this advocacy effort to let us know at post2015SDGs@luc.edu.