East Africa provides unique opportunities to study or get involved in diverse legal and governance areas. A case in point is Rwanda. Traditionally home to the civil law system, increasing Anglicization and regional integration into the East African Community have created a hybrid with a variety of common law elements. Additionally, the unique circumstances after the 1994 genocide demanded unusual measures such as the reintroduction of traditional customary legal elements like gacaca jurisdiction or abunzi mediation committees. While fascinating to study, the new hybrid system poses very real challenges to the country’s professionals who are largely overwhelmed with the ongoing changes. Capacity amongst legal personnel remains at comparably low levels. Legal knowledge at the grassroots is even poorer, and legal advice is reduced to a few private initiatives. Additionally, the country presents a unique case study for scholars of such subjects as reconciliation & nation building, effective aid and sustainable development.
We develop and facilitate international educational and professional exchanges for professionals and students in such fields as law, public policy, international relations or development studies. They range from study trips that focus on specialized topics to hands-on service-learning and training engagements. We are particularly proud of our signature legal capacity building program in collaboration with and upon invitation of the Rwandan Ministry of Justice where law firms and law schools can contribute their knowledge and expertise to the ongoing development of skills and capacities in the country’s legal community. Read more by clicking on the next pages.
Recent years have seen an ever increasing internationalization of personal and professional environments. Study trips respond to the growing need for international experiences and offer professionals and students the opportunity to visit another country and to meet with local and expatriate counterparts who work in related fields. This allows the visitors to gain valuable new perspective, to share common challenges and to generally connect on a one-to-one level. Itineraries regularly involvegovernment authorities, academic institutions, embassies, development agencies, for-profit and non-profit organizations – willing to interact with the visitors through guest presentations, meetings, lectures and site visits. This is embedded in educational, cultural and historical introductions as well as nature, leisure and fun activities.
We regularly host study trips from renowned universities such as Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, Hamline University’s Law School, Indiana University’s Institute for Development Strategies, New School University’s Global Studies program or the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. Topics include reconciliation & nation building, effective aid, international policy, international development or restorative justice. Additionally, we engage in professional focus study trips for lawyers as well as advocacy trips for leading international non-profits such as ONE.
Case study: Reconciliation & nation building study tour in Rwanda
Our signature reconciliation & nation building study tour in Rwanda has attracted diverse interest and is, among others, being implemented for Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and Indiana University’s Institute for Development Strategies. It features a 2-week curriculum with two distinct theme weeks. While the first approaches the genocide and the issues of trauma, memory and reconciliation, the second deals with nation building and focuses on identity, culture and development. Among others, participants visit key genocide memorials, meet with survivors, perpetrators and returnees, explore model socio-economic development in rural areas, learn about ingando solidarity camps, discuss US bilateral cooperation, and participate in a young leaders’ forum on nation building.
Our Legal Capacity Building Program offers foreign legal professionals and law schools the opportunity to support ongoing skills development processes in Rwanda. The immense legal reforms of the past decade have not only created a fascinating hybrid system combining civil and common law, but they also result in various un-met training and capacity building needs. Upon invitation of the Minister of Justice, we regularly host delegations with knowledge and experience in specific legal areas to support the implementation of the reforms.
Here are some of the current priority areas needed in Rwanda:
- Alternative dispute resolution (ADR): mediation for civil disputes, mediation for land and quiet title disputes, 5 stages of mediation (convene, opening, communication, negotiation, closing), mediation ethics, arbitration at the Kigali International Arbitration Center, insolvency procedures (division of trained judges/arbitrators solely for bankruptcy cases; fast track procedure for insolvency cases in commercial courts; creating positive incentives for bringing insolvency claims to arbitrators for mediation and dispute resolution between creditors and debtors)
- Legislative drafting and government contracts: public-private partnerships, privatization agreements, commercial agreements, joint ventures, energy/natural resource exploitation, construction contracts, share purchase and sale agreements, power purchase agreements, financing agreements for project development, risk allocation/guarantee/hedging strategies for project development
- Civil litigation and pleadings in court: complaint process/procedures, service of process and notice requirements, pleadings and answer requirements, discovery process and motions, jurisdictional requirements (personal, diversity and subject matter jurisdiction)
Additional service-learning opportunities exist for law schools, alumni associations or corporate firms with pro-bono or incentive activities. They include forums and workshops with grassroots NGOs, guest lectures at local law schools, research and documentation projects, and the development of handbooks or training manuals.