30 graduates received certificates of the first in the world international Certificate Program in Rule of Law in Kharkiv on April 16, 2019. The program is administered by Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University and the University of South Carolina with support from the USAID New Justice Program. It focuses on studying various aspects of the rule of law so that all legal professions could develop a common vision of the practical application of the rule of law principle for the purposes of protecting human rights, resolving disputes efficiently, and facilitating sustainable social and economic development of the country.
“USAID looks forward to seeing continued progress in justice sector reform in line with the aspirations of Ukrainians from all walks of life. We stand ready to support sustainable programs, such as this one, to advance Ukraine’s development”, said USAID Regional Mission Director to Ukraine Susan Fritz at the final round table and graduation ceremony.
“Through this program members of your group, which include sitting judges, practicing attorneys, prosecutors, law professors, government officials, including Supreme Court Justice, have worked together to develop a common understanding of the rule of law, identify challenges facing Ukraine, and prepared strategies for overcoming those challenges. This makes you truly unique,” pointed out Susan Fritz when greeting the graduates. “Nowhere else in the world have justice sector actors participated jointly in an academic level graduate certificate program focused on the rule of law.”
Faculty from the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University and the University of South Carolina jointly with the USAID New Justice Program representatives developed the two-week training program and adapted training materials to the Ukrainian context. Rector of the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University Vasyl Tatsiy believes that such composition enabled the trainees to familiarize themselves with various thoughts and perspectives on problems associated with strengthening rule of law in Ukraine.
“You are well aware, at what time and on which territory we live,” mentioned Mr. Tatsiy. “We need to come back to the rule of law and be guided by the rule of law when solving numerous problems. And we should begin with drafting the legislation in order to avoid situations where a law contravenes the rule of law principle.”
Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina Joel Samuels stressed the importance of implementing the certificate program in Ukraine for promoting the rule of law across the globe.
“I want to thank our partners for their vision in developing this program and their guidance in implementing it. I want to thank all of you for your commitment, dedication, so many questions, your comments. This is truly a unique program globally. I really have hope that it would be a model for certificate programs in rule of law for sitting judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and you would be a model for how it should be built,” Joel Samuels addressed the participants.
“This certificate program has become the quintessence of the USAID New Justice Program work,” emphasized USAID New Justice Program Chief of Party David Vaughn. It became the final stage of a series of events including preparation of teachers in rule of law for the National School of Judges, which was done in cooperation with the Center for Rule of Law Studies under umbrella of the National University of “Kyiv Mohyla Academy”, and translation into Ukrainian and regional presentations of the Venice Commission’s Rule of Law Checklist, a tool for assessing the state of the rule of law in a country.
During the final round table, the program participants present their capstone projects aimed to solve specific problems involving application of the rule of law principle in such areas as e-justice, enforcement of court decisions, access to justice, resolution of commercial disputes, alternative dispute resolution, protection of rights of legally incapable persons, foreign citizens, and stateless persons, courts’ communications with the public. Following the presentations, the participants will discuss lessons learned and further implementation of the program in Ukraine.
“I would like to ensure you that we will do everything in our power to assist you with the implementation of your projects,” David Vaughn addressed the graduates. “Because today’s event is rather the beginning than the end of a hard but interesting way.”
The Ukrainian experience of developing and implementing the innovative certificate program sparked the interest of the author of one of fundamental paper on rule of law, Brian Z. Tamanaha, Professor of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. His books have been translated into ten languages including Ukrainian. Professor Tamanaha expressed a willingness to join the discussion of the graduates’ capstone projects and assist with the further development of the program.
“I have special feelings to Ukraine as Ukrainian was the first language that my book dedicated to rule of law was translated to. As you deal with your own challenges to build the rule of law, you keep in mind that this has been a difficult task everywhere, so you are not alone in dealing with these problems. It is a process of constant struggle and development. As you work to build the rule of law in Ukraine, it is really important to take into consideration the particular political, social, economic and legal tradition and circumstances of your own society. The rule of law is a culture of respect to legality.” Professor Tamanaha mentioned also that well trained and dedicated legal professionals are needed in order to develop a consistent legal knowledge.
Besides representatives of various legal professions, the first group of trainees included master program students of law schools who were selected on a competitive basis from among 320 applicants with due respect for regional representation, professional experience, and gender balance. In November and December 2018, all participants were trained in the following modules of the program: “Modern Approaches to the Rule of Law”, “Core Rule of Law Principles and Pillars in Comparative Perspective”, “Human Rights and Their Protections”, “Rule of Law in Practice: Professionalism and Ethical Obligations”, “Legal Reasoning: Exploring New Developments and New Challenges”, “Applying Legal Reasoning Skills in New Settings”, “Legal Consulting and Interviewing”, “Dispute Resolution as Rule of Law Element”, “Adversarial Element as Part of Rule of Law”. In addition, they considered the practical application of the rule of law in various sphere of law including working with modeled situations and analysis of the European Court of Human Rights decisions in specific cases.
It is planned that the Certificate Program in Rule of Law will be administered every year to engage a more legal professional who will apply the rule of law principle in practice.