The Rule of Law Expertise Programme (ROLE UK) works to strengthen the rule of law in developing countries through supporting the provision of pro bono legal and judicial expertise. It is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID).
The ‘rule of law’ underpins open, fair and peaceful societies. It ensures a well-functioning justice sector with accountable and transparent government and justice institutions, where citizens are treated equally before the law and human rights are protected.
Raahat Currim, Communications Officer for ROLE UK said, "We work in developing countries on rule of law issues which are linked to poverty reduction and sustainable development goals. Our work is demand led, we receive requests for technical legal assistance from governments, professional bodies and civil society organisations and we then identify, source and fund the expertise that is most relevant to address the problem."
Alongside active deployments, ROLE also seeks to strengthen the broader UK legal pro bono contribution in developing countries. It does this by emphasising knowledge sharing, improving coordination, and disseminating evidence and learning through publications and events.
"We are extremely well positioned with excellent links to DFID and other UK departments, civil society groups and the international pro bono community. However, as a young organisation, one of our key challenges is raising awareness about our work and the support we can provide to developing country governments and civil society groups."
"Our work is primarily about provision of technical legal assistance and strategic capacity building, rather than ad-hoc trainings. When an application comes to us, we will look for evidence that the proposed intervention is demand led, strategic, relevant and sustainable. We enable our experts to learn and engage with the local context so that they can better tailor their support to meet local needs more effectively. We try to approach things in a holistic way."
"When people think about poverty, they typically think about a lack of resources; but poverty is also about a lack of access to rights and justice systems."
ROLE’s work spans a broad range of activities which may include:
- Training and mentoring support on specific areas of law, judicial skills, advocacy or alternative dispute resolution
- Advice and support to review and develop legislation and regulatory frameworks
- Support to reform legal and judicial systems and development of robust legal frameworks
- Strategic peer-to-peer relationship building and skills exchange
- Analysing problems relating to the rule of law and access to justice and advising on appropriate solutions
A highlight for ROLE UK last year was working with the African Prisons Project in Kenya.
The African Prisons Project works holistically to transform prisons in Africa, supporting some of the most vulnerable communities – ensuring equitable access to justice, health and education.
“About 40% of the prison population in Kenya are held on remand without access to a fair trial. Some of them can be held in prison for up to ten years without going to trial and often for petty crimes. Poor prisoners are disproportionately more likely to remain in custody beyond constitutional limits.
ROLE supported APP with this work by sending in legal experts to train prisoners to represent themselves in court. Our work with APP was therefore about empowering prisoners”.
Read more about ROLE UK's work with the African Prisons Project and discover more about their other assignments including strengthening government lawyers’ capacity to negotiate and manage contracts and improving accountability among public officials.