May 29, 2015

Workshop Inaugurates Regional African Center for Justice Program

May 2015

From January 28–29, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a workshop at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika in Bujumbura, Burundi, as the first major event of its regional African Center for Justice (ACJ) program. The workshop, which focused on economic development and justice, was attended by 30 legal professionals—including members of the ACJ Steering Group, senior judges and lawyers—from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Rwanda.


Presentations and discussions highlighted various approaches and legal mechanisms for promoting commercial investments while protecting social and economic rights.


Sylvestre Nyandwi, permanent secretary of the Burundian Ministry of Justice, opened the workshop. He commended the ACJ program for seeking to meet the legal and judicial development needs of the region. Kiyuku Ornella, from Burundi, said, “[The workshop taught me] how to reconcile the traditions of common law and civil law systems.”

Nyandwi said that the program will enable national judicial systems to fully participate in reform efforts and identify common denominators, which will promote judicial cooperation across the four participating countries.

Presentations by an international legal expert and subsequent group discussions highlighted various approaches and legal mechanisms for promoting commercial investments while protecting social and economic rights. During the small group discussions, participants discussed relevant laws and practices from their respective countries. Each group later presented an overview of the legal mechanisms it assessed, along with the strengths and weaknesses it identified. Owenga Odinga Lambert, a participant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said, “The comparative law aspect opened my eyes to new perspectives for how to approach cases.” Mukandoli Brigitte, a Rwandan lawyer, agreed. He said, “Through the exchange of experiences, I gained various references and elements that I can use and draw upon in the future to strengthen my legal arguments when handling cases.”

Following the workshop, on January 29, the U.S. Ambassador to Burundi Dawn Liberi hosted a reception for the members of the ACJ Steering Group at the American Embassy in Bujumbura. The reception was also attended by Burundian officials—including the president of the Constitutional Court and members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—as well as representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Belgian Technical Cooperation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

To learn more about our Central Africa Regional Program, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.