11 January 2012

NOTICE: Search for Legal Experts with a Bijural Background

The following message (with a deadline today) has just come to my attention. SPD

This memorandum is to notify you that the ABA-UNDP International Legal Resource Center (ILRC <http://www.abanet.org/intlaw/intlproj/ilrc/home.html> ) is in search of legal experts with a bijural background and experience with transitioning to a common law system. UNDP/Rwanda is in the preparatory stages for a regional conference focusing on the civil and common law situation in Rwanda within the East African context. Rwanda has a dual legal system, embracing aspects of both civil and common law, but gradually moving towards a more common law based system. One of the most interesting challenges faced by Rwanda has been the transformation from civil law to common law. Rwanda was a civil law country, and some concepts of the common law practices have not been readily accepted. The challenges related to such transitions can be multiple and wide-reaching. They can include the need for substantial legal and regulatory reform, comprehensive re-training and education of legal and other professionals (such as the judiciary, civil service, parliamentary committees and other authorities), and broad-scale legal education, communication and outreach to inform the private sector and the public about new laws and practices, and the administration of justice in the country. These can require investment of resources in reform and the formulation of new policies, strategies and plans for the transition to ensure predictability and effectiveness in the legal order and to strengthen, rather than undermine, the legal system.

Despite the challenges, such transitions also offer important and unique opportunities to strengthen the rule of law and to reinforce the legitimacy, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of the administration of justice and governance institutions. Transitioning to common law, for example, can allow more flexible legal responses to bottlenecks and emerging legal issues, broader scope for judicial decision-making and precedent-setting, and the smoother integration of plural legal orders. Such strengthening can help to build confidence of the private sector and the public in the legal order and the state, engender access to justice and further legal protection of rights and entitlements, facilitate smoother integration with the legal, regulatory and judicial systems in the region, and promote economic security and investment.

 The conference will seek to:
  • Bring together delegates from Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan;
  • Identify the shared as well as the distinct challenges faced by the countries in focus with regards to transitions in law and hybrid legal systems;
  • Highlight the lessons learned, experiences and good practice of other countries with hybrid or transitioning legal situations;
  • Explore the opportunities offered by such transitions in terms of strengthening the rule of law and access to justice; and
  • Outline the potential avenues and ways forward to strategically overcome the challenges and enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of governance in the context of hybrid systems and legal transitions.
While UNDP/Rwanda is still in the preparatory stages of this conference, they hope to host this conference in late February 2012. The agenda is still in draft form, but UNDP/Rwanda has requested assistance in identifying experts who may be interested in serving as speakers. In particular, legal practitioners with experience in hybrid legal systems across Africa and Asia, including South Africa, Cameroon, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and other countries who can share their experiences, lessons learned, and recommendations for Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. It’s important to have proven experience with transitioning to common law. Membership into the East African Community has mandated that Rwanda and Burundi adopt the common law tradition. Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Ugandan legal systems were modeled after the U.K. common law system, while the Rwandan and Burundi systems were heavily based on the Belgian civil law system. Additionally, the newly independent Republic of South Sudan is also facing similar challenges as it returns to the common law system after decades of Shari’a law.

Please note that UNDP/Rwanda hopes to cover the costs of travel and lodging, but this is not 100% confirmed. Experts with proven experience and ability to make presentations, kindly email (Jacqueline.Gichinga@americanbar.org) your CV and short cover letter highlighting your bijural qualifications/experience. Fluency in both French and English is a plus. Furthermore, experts must be willing to travel to Rwanda for the conference set to take place in late February 2012. The deadline for applications is January 11, 2012. Thank you!

Best in 2012,


Jacqueline Gichinga
International Program Associate
American Bar Association, Section of International Law
ABA-UNDP International Legal Resource Center (ILRC)
740 15th St, NW
Washington, DC 20005
T: +1-202-662-1662
F: +1-202-662-1669
Jacqueline.Gichinga@americanbar.org (NEW EMAIL ADDRESS)

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