IDLO, working together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched the Rule of Law Centres Initiative in 2014. The Centres provide training, with a substantive focus on local justice issues linked to international rule of law principles including fairness and equality, to lawyers, law teachers, and civil society representatives, as well as fostering general awareness of the law among the public. The long-term goal is to build greater trust in Myanmar's justice system.
The program has seen the establishment of four Rule of Law Centres in Myanmar – Mandalay, Myitkyina, Taunggyi and Yangon. The first phase of the Rule of Law Centres Initiative ran from July 2015 to June 2016, and the second phase from August 2016 to December 2017.
Through the Rule of Law Centres’ activities, more than 2,000 lawyers, law teachers, government officials and civil society representatives completed the Foundations in Rule of Law and specialized legal courses, over 300 participants took part in Training of Trainers courses, and more than 7,000 people attended outreach activities. The Rule of Law Centres’ tracking of replicated trainings shows a significant multiplier effect of the follow-on activities taken up by the 21 organizations formed by Rule of Law Centres graduates, who delivered 33 replicated trainings reaching more than 1,500 community members in 2017.
The Rule of Law Centers’ Foundations in Rule of Law course curriculum also includes specific sessions and activities focusing on women’s equality issues, such as inheritance rights, divorce law and gender-based violence.
The third phase of this initiative, running from January to June 2018, will focus on strengthening national ownership and sustainability, increasing the scale and reach of programming through additional Centres and institutionalizing curricula and training courses. The Centres will also expand their outreach programming to communities through specialized mobile training courses.
Each Centre is guided and advised by a Local Advisory Board made up of jurists, local community representatives and members of parliament. The Centres are run jointly by IDLO and UNDP and supported by Finland, Sweden, the UK, and the US. The program is being implemented at the request of the Myanmar Parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw) Coordinating Body for Rule of Law Centres, established under the Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquility Committee.