Yangon, November 11, 2017 - More than 200 people including Government officials, community members, civil society representatives, lawyers and law teachers from diverse organizations took part in a Conference hosted by the Rule of Law Centres (ROLC), implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), at Yangon University today. The Conference presented the work and achievements of the Rule of Law Centres, located in Mandalay, Myitkyina, Taunggyi, and Yangon, and plans for the next phase of programming in 2018 and beyond.
In delivering the opening remarks, H.E. Deputy Attorney General U Win Myint of the Union Attorney General’s Office said, “ROL principles are the foundations upon which democratic nations are built.” He further highlighted the crucial role the Rule of Law Centres have played in promoting interaction between justice institutions and communities.
Other high-level participants included H.E Minister of Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, representatives from Union and state/region Coordinating Bodies for the Rule of Law Centres and Justice Sector Affairs, development partners, Rule of Law Centre staff and graduates, and representatives from UNDP, IDLO and other rule of law organizations.
The Rule of Law Centres initiative, launched by UNDP in 2014 at the request of the Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquillity Committee and now guided by Myanmar’s National Coordinating Body for the Rule of Law Centres and Justice Sector Affairs, seeks to increase trust and cooperation between justice providers and the communities they serve. The Rule of Law Centres provide communities with the knowledge, skills and values needed to address local justice issues through training, dialogue and access to resources.
Since 2015, the Centres have trained nearly 1,500 lawyers and civil society representatives in more than 70 training courses, and more than 1,400 community leaders through 46 village level mobile trainings. ROLC training graduates have gone on to form 14 organizations around the country, providing legal assistance and legal awareness raising in their communities. Rule of Law Centre graduate Myat Noe Kyaw said “Clearly, implementation of rule of law can end discrimination. I was pleased to hear [at the conference] there will be more activities provided by the Rule of Law Centres, which can help strengthen rule of law [in Myanmar].”
Speaking about the key findings of an independent assessment of the Rule of Law Centres presented at the Conference, UNDP Country Director Peter Batchelor said, “The independent assessment of the Rule of Law Centres confirmed for us what we all know from our own experiences working with the Centres over the past few years: the Centres are building social cohesion in Myanmar, and encouraging respect for different communities; they are helping women understand that their rights are as important as men’s, and that they have the right to not live in fear of domestic violence; and the Centres are engaging in dialogues with local officials and residents about fundamental fairness in the justice system, and the guarantees of the Myanmar Constitution that all people are entitled to equal treatment under the law.”
The event also featured the launch of two Rule of Law Centres Issue Briefs; on Leading Community Justice Issues in Myanmar and Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Myanmar. The Issue Brief Series draws on the insights and local knowledge generated through the community based dialogue work of the Rule of Law Centres to provide concrete recommendations to government and non-governmental actors on priority justice issues, linking community voices with justice sector reform priorities.
Speaking at the conference, IDLO Country Director Christina Beninger stated, “In each location, reflecting the diversity of four states and regions across Myanmar, the Rule of Law Centres have become trusted spaces for building dialogue and cooperation between communities and government officials - involving more than 6000 participants since 2015 - about the leading justice issues that affect them most, including land claims, gender based violence, human trafficking and child protection”.
Looking to the future, the Centres will continue to build on their core areas of programming, with a focus on strengthening national ownership and sustainability, increasing the scale and reach of programming through additional Centres and expanded outreach, institutionalizing curricula and training courses, continuing to prioritize gender sensitive programming, and enhancing collaboration with government and other rule of law initiatives.
The Rule of Law Centres are supported by the Governments of Australia, Finland, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.