To promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences, IDLO welcomed a delegation of justice professionals from Pakistan to its headquarters in Rome in late September 2017 for a discussion about IDLO’s work, the Pakistani justice system and alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Pending the adoption of a law on ADR by Pakistan’s parliament, ADR has been introduced into the justice system through provisions in Pakistan’s existing legal framework, for instance in the Civil Procedure Code. The Lahore High Court was the first to open an ADR center in its city, backed by the judiciary and with 36 judges serving as mediators.
ADR, especially mediation, carries advantages not just for individual parties, but also provides a solution for the heavy case backlog that has accumulated in Pakistan’s courts. 1.2 million cases have piled up in Punjab province alone, creating a significant barrier for access to justice. By resolving cases much more quickly and at a lower cost, mediation can help build people’s confidence in the justice system, the judges explained.
Composed of judges and academics from the Lahore High Court, the Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore, the Punjab Judicial Academy, and the International Islamic University, the delegation travelled to Rome to take part in a training of trainers workshop, aimed at helping the participants learn how to deliver training on ADR. The workshop was delivered by the ‘PROLAW’ program in rule of law for development, which is run by the Loyola University Chicago School of Law at its campus in Rome.
The visit to Italy was organized by the Asia Foundation as part of a program which seeks to promote the use of ADR in the province of Punjab to settle civil disputes between people who otherwise do not have access to justice. The project is being run in partnership with the High Court of Lahore.
Pakistan has been a member of IDLO since 2015. Ted Hill, IDLO Senior Program Development Specialist, and Anna Koppel, Senior Program Coordinator for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, used the occasion to speak to the delegation about IDLO’s extensive experience in promoting the rule of law around the world and in building countries’ capacity to effectively implement ADR mechanisms.