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Implementing Rule of Law in African Nations: The Cases for Angola, and Democratic Republic of Congo

At the heart of USILD program of promoting Rule of Law is our ability to develop lawyers' litigation skills centered on constitutional law and international human rights law for the purpose of protecting nations' constitutional law, and international human rights laws. We currently have programs centered on training the following category of litigators:

Special Focus Programs

Constitutional Issues Seminar—The USILD partners with the Orpe Center for Constitutional Advocacy to host a seminar addressing matters of Constitutional law and litigation. Sample topics have included The Constitution and the Administrative State:  The Separation of Powers and the Appropriate Role of Government in Society; Judicial Independence and the US, Federal Courts: A Historical Perspective; Hamilton's Vision: Federalism, National Authority, and Judicial Review; and The Constitution and the Administrative State: The Separation of Powers and the Appropriate Role of Government in Society. The Seminar examine the history and current context of constitutional issues and their implications for society broadly and for the US, the federal courts specifically. 

Promoting Rule of Law in Africa: the Case for Angola

In the African nations struggle for social justice, providing efficient skills development training in the area such as public interest litigation, and constitutional litigation should play an indisputably important role. Yet over the past three decades, critics from both the left and right have challenged public interest litigators for capacity to secure systemic change. The critiques have varied, but have centered on two basic claims. The first is that litigation cannot itself reform social institutions. The second related concern is that over-reliance on courts diverts effort from potentially more productive political strategies and disempowers the groups that lawyers are seeking to assist. The result is too much law and too little justice. This last view characterizes the reality of African nations, the case of Angola for example. 

This program features sessions on topics of particular interest to magistrate judges, such as civil and pro se litigation, criminal procedure, psychological states of litigants, and ethics. Instruction is offered in both plenary and breakout session formats.

Typical breakout sessions for judges address such topics as:

  • Evaluating the constitutional and civil liberties implications in the justice systems

  • Assessing the impact on judges of implicit bias, mindfulness, physical and mental stressors, and emotional equanimity

  • Finding an excellent law clerk

  • Maximizing cybersecurity

  • Conducting a Fair Labor Standards Act case

  • Writing more effectively

  • Facilitating mediation sessions

  • Overcoming obstacles encountered in the use of courtroom, chambers, and personal technology

  • Designing and delivering jury instructions

  • Obtaining available IT hardware and software for a more efficient chambers and/or courtroom

  • Preparing for retirement from the bench or transition to recall status and identifying ethical (and other) concerns arising from retirement

  • Implementing foundational provisions of the Bail Reform Act

  • Analyzing different models of reentry and other problem-solving courts and their functionality

For lawyers, we address issues associated with trial advocacy, constitutional litigation, public interest litigation, and international human rights law.

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