International Development Law Organization

Promoting the rule of law in fragile states

15 Jan 2017

Romualdo Mavedzenge – former Country Director for South Sudan

IDLO has been working in South Sudan since before independence in 2011, when initial support was directed towards the National Constitutional Review Commission. The current focus of our work is to strengthen capacity both on the supply side of justice, through support for national institutions such as the judiciary and Ministry of Justice, and on the demand side, working with civil society based organizations to build capacity of citizens to claim their rights. IDLO also focuses on ensuring that the future of justice provision in South Sudan is improved, through its technical support to the College of Law at the University of Juba, which trains future lawyers and judicial officers.

The ongoing conflict in the country both hampers our work and makes it all the more relevant and essential. But beyond the immediate conflict, South Sudan also faces huge challenges in terms of the economy and social cohesion between different ethnic groups. The rule of law is critical to stability and development. Without clear legal frameworks, the country will be unable to attain the peace necessary for economic and social development. And, only a strong rule of law environment can ensure that the diverse tribal groupings are able to co-exist in a manner conducive to national development.

Throughout its projects, IDLO is helping to ensure that the rule of law provides a framework for national development and growth in South Sudan. Engaging with key justice institutions in conflict-affected countries, organizations like IDLO help to build a framework for the proper application of the rule of law.

One of the greatest challenges we have faced, in terms of justice and the rule of law specifically in South Sudan, is that the country, post-independence, changed its justice system from the civil law - sharia based system of the North, but did not have trained professionals to apply the new common law justice system. The adoption of English as the language for judicial processes further compounded the challenges. Levels of education had not prepared the country for the change in legal system. Most justice professionals had been trained in the North, using Arabic as the language of instruction.

Yet, a major difference made by IDLO has been in the training of judicial officers; through the efforts of IDLO, judges in South Sudan have received basic training on both procedural and substantive aspects of the new legal system. This is critical to ensuring that citizens are provided with basic rights and the rule of law is observed.

From my experience, I would say that IDLO brings to its work the ability to engage with both the supply and the demand side of justice. Using experience gained in programming in other countries, IDLO is able to appropriately tailor support in each country to suit the circumstances and level of legal development.

From my experience, I would say that IDLO brings to its work the ability to engage with both the supply and the demand side of justice. Using experience gained in programming in other countries, IDLO is able to appropriately tailor support in each country to suit the circumstances and level of legal development.

Something that struck me during my time in South Sudan was the willingness on the part of South Sudanese to learn and build their justice institutions. This is a positive development for the future and guarantees that past efforts to build their capacity have not been a wasted effort. Personally, I am most proud of the work of IDLO in supporting the training of future lawyers through the College of Law project, the effort is consistent with ensuring that there is sustainability of capacity-building efforts.

IDLO brings to its work the ability to engage with both the supply and the demand side of justice. Using experience gained in programming in other countries, IDLO is able to appropriately tailor support in each country to suit the circumstances and level of legal development.

I am most proud of the work of IDLO in supporting the training of future lawyers through the College of Law project, the effort is consistent with ensuring that there is sustainability of capacity-building efforts.

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