Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Rule of Law and Development

The most basic interaction that people have with their government — and the point at which the rule of law fails and corruption is most rife — is at the lowest levels in administrative settings where people attempt to get their benefits. This nexus of development and law is essential, and accountability can be fostered through community organizers and para-legals, not full fledged lawyers. Furthermore, impact litigation can occur at the state or national level to reform practices. Ensuring social and economic rights, as enshrined in the CESCR, are respected and enforced at an international level among state signatories is important, but difficult. In the post 2015 Agenda, the best way to ENSURE development is for national governments — responding to local political pressure — to institute national social programs (like India’s rural employment guarantee and right to food program) and then for these programs to be enforced through local legal action holding bureaucrats accountable at the local level to both ensure that corruption doesn’t prevent people from accessing their rights and hopefully to improve the distribution models. This is one tangible way that small scale legal interactions can support development while creating a bottom-up culture of rule of law that can be transformative.


Idea for Fact Finding Blog Post


Fact finding is typically the first engagement of the local affected community with the international community, but ideally it will not be the last engagement. The folly of much international fact finding is that it is non-participative and extractive because it is often geared toward instigating Security Council action, or other top-down, UN action or triggering ICC jurisdiction.  However, given the structural deficiencies of the ICC, such top-down action is not necessarily the most likely, or even the best final goal to end impunity. In an international criminal justice system that should include effective, fair, and efficient prosecution of international crimes in national court, strong regional mechanisms, and international cooperation with bodies other than the UN, fact finding is the first step in what could be years of organizing, advocacy, litigation, and other strategies to combat impunity that will simultaneously take place at the local, national, and international level. That is why the initial fact finding effort should not simply be a top-down extractive mission, but a capacity building exercise that empowers local groups to engage legally and politically, nationally and internationally, and to deploy multiple strategies over time. The international funding community can make a significant contribution by training victims groups, community organizations, and local lawyers to engage at all of these levels to create a local coalition with international capacity that will remain to put pressure in the variety of forms available long after the limited engagement of the fact finding mission ends and through the variety of different opportunities in the myriad emerging forums that may arise over years.

Guatemala, and the Historical Clarification Commission is a prime example of how an initial participatory fact finding model led to continued engagement that ultimately led to the first national conviction, increasing international pressure, and adaptability to procedural hurdles.