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In July, the World Justice Forum IV (organized by the World Justice Project) brought together more than 550 business and nonprofit leaders, legal experts, development practitioners, journalists, military leaders, social entrepreneurs, and other global luminaries from more than 100 countries to address critical rule of law issues around the world. In partnership with the Skoll World Forum and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, we asked a number of speakers to reflect on a wide range of issues including land rights, access to water, criminal justice, and much more. View the full series here.
At the World Justice Project, we believe that the rule of law provides the foundation for communities of equity and opportunity.
This is not an academic argument. Where the rule of law is weak, medicines fail to reach health facilities, criminal violence goes unchecked, laws are applied unequally across societies, and foreign investments are held back. Effective rule of law helps reduce corruption, improve public health, enhance education, alleviate poverty, and protect people from injustices and dangers large and small.
These issues affect us all, no matter where we come from or what we do—we all have a role to play, not only lawyers and judges. That is why we promote multidisciplinary collaboration as the most effective strategy for strengthening the rule of law.
At the World Justice Forum IV in The Hague, Netherlands, we put these premises to the test by drawing together more than 550 business and nonprofit leaders, journalists, military leaders, social entrepreneurs, legal experts and other luminaries from more than 100 countries. We designed three days of intense knowledge sharing, collaboration, and practical planning to address critical rule of law issues related to economic development, post-conflict and post-disaster efforts, emerging technologies, supply chains, women’s rights, freedom of expression, and more. This Forum was dedicated to President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, a survivor, champion and beacon of the rule of law.
The Forum was an inspiring and productive event. Keynote speakers from around the world communicated their experience and insights on the rule of law. These speakers included United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, Deputy Speaker of the Tunisian National Assembly Meherzia Labidi Maïza, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, Founder & Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning Sakena Yakoobi.
Our biennial Rule of Law Awards recognized outstanding achievements by individuals or organizations to advance the rule of law in some of the most vulnerable communities. This year, the awards highlighted the work of two beacons of the rule of law: Dr. Shirin Ebadi and BRAC. Dr. Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Founder & President of Defenders of Human Rights Center, who was honored for her efforts to advance democracy and human rights, particularly for women, girls, and refugees. BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) was honored for its global leadership in creating opportunity for the world’s poor.
At the Forum’s closing session, participants unveiled 48 initiatives aimed at strengthening the rule of law. The initiatives were created at special “justice incubator” sessions held throughout the week, and included a mobile app tool for human trafficking victims and witnesses; an initiative for safeguarding small holder farmers’ tenure and livelihood by providing access to outgrowing arrangements in Burma; a digital platform where post-conflict survivors, witnesses, and others can create a record of truth and build an online community, and more. Additional information about these initiatives will be posted to our website in the coming months.
Wherever we come from, the rule of law can always be strengthened. In this series, you’ll hear the voices of many World Justice Forum participants, each bringing his or her individual perspective and experience to the discussion. Now that the Forum has ended, it will be up to each of us to continue this vital and honorable work—participants, staff, observers, and anyone interested in developing communities of opportunity and equity where they live. The World Justice Project looks forward to serving as a key resource and ally to you all in this foundationally important endeavor.
Editor's Note: William H. Neukom is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the World Justice Project.