The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) field offices often find the opportunity to undertake short-term, concrete projects that provide opportunities to promote the rule of law. In some instances, these efforts cannot be fully funded by existing grants. When possible, ABA ROLI’s focal area teams fill this funding gap by awarding mini-grants from the general funds allocated to one of our seven focal areas. During the summer of 2009, ABA ROLI awarded mini-grants to five small, but important, projects in Ukraine, China, Armenia and Lebanon.
In Ukraine, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity focal area funded two efforts to promote integrity by disseminating anti-corruption documents and information. As part of a previously-funded grant, ABA ROLI partnered with the Ministry of Justice and the Parliamentary Committee on Organized Crime and Corruption to develop and publish guidelines on the U.N. Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). After the guidelines were published, ABA ROLI and its partners held a July roundtable about the guidelines. To support the roundtable event, ABA ROLI used mini-grant funds to print 400 copies of the guidelines, which were distributed to all roundtable participants and to members of Parliament, the Parliamentary Library and the libraries of participating universities.
When the Ukrainian Parliament adopted three anti-corruption laws, formally ratifying the UNCAC, officials agreed that a lack of knowledge about the laws, both among the general public and lawmakers, delayed their passage. They also noted that the ABA ROLI roundtable and the distribution of the guidelines helped to address this need. ABA ROLI’s Ukraine office used additional anti-corruption mini-grant funds to develop a public education brochure outlining government officials’ responsibilities under the anti-corruption legislation and advising them of potential penalties for abuse of power, bribery and corrupt activities. The brochure is being distributed to local councils and government administration.
ABA ROLI’s China program used its Women’s Rights focal area mini-grant to improve access to domestic violence resource materials. A Guide for Effective Issuance & Enforcement of Protection Orders, known as the “Burgundy Book,” is published by the U.S.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. It is a unique resource that provides guidance for governmental and non-governmental actors involved in the implementation of protection orders. The Anti-Domestic Violence Network in China, an ABA ROLI partner organization, identified a critical need for systematic information on the use and enforcement of protection orders, an area in which increased multi-agency coordination is urgently needed. ABA ROLI’s China office translated the guide and then used mini-grant funds to cover printing and distribution costs. The 500 copies were sent to judges, prosecutors and advocates for domestic violence victims.
With support from a mini-grant award from the Access to Justice and Human Rights focal area, ABA ROLI’s office in Armenia hosted a June workshop for legal practitioners. Although Armenia has a legal framework to protect human rights and redress violations, these guarantees have not been put into practice. In particular, an insufficient number of human rights cases are being litigated domestically and then appealed internationally. To address these issues, the ABA ROLI workshop trained 60 Armenian advocates, prosecutors, investigators and public defenders on filing an effective petition to the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) and on applying ECHR jurisprudence to domestic cases. The workshop also encouraged discussion, networking and constructive communication between the participants and helped the participants develop litigation strategies and plans for raising public awareness of human rights.
The Access to Justice and Human Rights focal area also supported a human rights-focused moot court competition in Lebanon.