Last week, Open Justice attended the Avocats San Frontieres (ASF) conference in Brussels to discuss how lawyers can work to bring about social change. There were more than 250 participants, from 15 different countries who shared experiences and ideas on how to increase access to justice and considered the link between legal problems and the broader issue of sustainable development. The conference was an opportunity to promote the work of Open Justice and meet with organisations who will support the development of our project. We were really impressed with the quality of the presentations which provided a real insight into the challenges that organisations and countries face securing access to justice and the rule of law. Some delegates discussed the particular challenges presented in embedding the rule of law in countries such as Myanmar which are in the process of transitioning to democracy after a period of authoritarian rule.
There are many ways in which pro bono legal services are being delivered and much work is being done to improve legal systems and legal education with the overall goal of improving access to justice for all and particularly the poor and vulnerable.
We discussed with colleagues from other Universities the importance of including clinical legal education within a law programme to help ensure access to justice in the immediate and long term future. It was fascinating to learn how justice education is being delivered in Uganda, Singapore, Italy and the US. We learned more about their teaching methodology and it has provided us with different ideas and case studies that we can incorporate into our module.
The conference proved to be a great chance to extend our network of pro bono practitioners to support the work of Open Justice. We met with a number of organisations with whom we hope to develop collaborative activities and so provide our students with a chance to engage in the process of lawyering for change!
Hugh and Francine at the conference.
More images from the conference.