By Murtaugh, Christina
UN Chronicle , Vol. 49, No. 4
The 24 September 2012 Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (1) reaffirmed the importance of promoting rule of law, justice, and human security around the world. (2) Rule of law promotion has been an intrinsic part of the work of the United Nations since its inception. Over the past six decades, in addition to advancing the international community's strategy in how to best aid countries coming out of conflict in rebuilding their justice and security systems, the United Nations has expanded its view of rule of law, justice and human security as being more than just formal institutions and high-level government actors, but also encompassing local communities and their ability to access justice and security in their daily lives.
The challenges that national governments and the international community are facing in promoting the rule of law in the aftermath of conflict are immense: local communities expect their governments to establish justice and security immediately while also bringing back a sense of normalcy to their lives, and international donors expect that if they provide resources to governments and local non-governmental organizations, their investment will yield quick impacts and rule of law gains. All of these pressures are occurring against the stark reality that developing the rule of law, access to justice and human security in any country takes decades to come to fruition. (3)
With the growth of the number of people, organizations, and areas of rule of law reform comes an increasing need to not only promote good practices and processes, but also to provide national and international actors with the resources needed to achieve long-term successes. The Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (4) urges donors, international organizations and civil society actors to provide technical assistance and capacity-building, including education and training on rule issues, as well as to share practices and lessons learned on the rule of law at the international and national levels. (5)
Consider the following real world problems that rule of law practitioners face:
* A country coming out of conflict is faced with an abundance of detainees held on suspicion of conflict-related crimes. The courts are not fully functional. Human rights organizations are noting violations of detainees' rights, with arbitrary detention being a top priority. When trials occur, judges are under pressure to convict accused persons as their release may spark retribution killings. How should courts balance the need to protect the detainees' lives while also protecting their right against arbitrary detention?
* Due to insecurity in a particular conflict-affected country, police forces have become less focused on civilian policing and more focused on terrorism, resulting in a more militarized police force that struggles to engage with local communities. How does the country, along with the international community, professionalize and civilianize the police to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the local communities?
* In a country where police corruption is rampant, use of force goes unchecked, and the internal accountability structure of the police system allows impunity. National and international actors are looking to create an independent oversight mechanism. No guidelines exist on how to do this. What kind of system can be set up that will end the impunity within the police force?
Individuals who struggle to address these challenges can turn to the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL) for help.
INPROL: A VIRTUAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
Established in 2007, INPROL is a global, online community of practice, comprised of some 2,100 rule of law practitioners from 180 countries and 300 organizations (see www. …