WASHINGTON, DC • BRUSSELS • BAGHDAD
IILHR believes that our role is to provide advice and support to our local partners. We work to facilitate a consultative, collaborative dialogue that helps our local partners draw their own informed conclusions to make their own decisions. Our extensive experience in transitional environments means that we can offer our services in a number of distinct practice areas.
One of the most common challenges facing societies in transition from conflict or to democracy is developing a culture of human rights. In some countries, citizens have only a vague understanding of the importance and relevance of universal human rights standards. In some cases, new governments are coming to terms with educating their citizens on their rights while developing laws and institutions to guarantee them. IILHR works with government officials, parliamentarians, and civil society to develop and strengthen human rights laws and institutions, including human rights ministries, human rights commissions, and independent human rights non-governmental organizations. IILHR also works with human rights NGOs on developing reporting methodologies, conducting research, and using the resulting information as a platform for effective advocacy and information sharing.
As Alexis de Tocqueville noted, civil society organizations help citizens develop the “habits of the heart” necessary to be full participants in democratic governance. Non-governmental organizations serve as advocates on important issues, watchdogs on human rights, and homes to individuals sharing a common faith, ethnicity, or interest. IILHR works with NGOs to build and strengthen the NGOs’ capacity to promote peaceful democratic change and develop practical strategies to achieve their goals. We also work with parliaments to ensure that legislation regulating civil society encourages rather than restricts NGO development.
Societies making the transition from conflict to consensus frequently need assistance to implement the promise of a new constitution. IILHR works with parliamentarians and civil society leaders to develop and adopt legislation that reinforces constitutional protections with durable institutions based on respect for the rule of law. IILHR staff have participated in constitutional drafting processes in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Kosovo, and Montenegro, and they have extensive experience providing legal advice and research on a wide range of related issues, including state sovereignty, state succession, and referenda questions.
Governments have an obligation to guarantee their citizens basic human needs. Yet in many countries making the transition from conflict or to democracy, it is often these fundamentals — education, adequate housing, food, water, health, and employment — that are in shortest supply or at greatest risk. IILHR works with parliamentarians, government officials, and civil society to create the legal framework necessary to ensure the progressive realization of these rights.
No matter how strong a country’s laws, it must also have a strong and independent judiciary capable of interpreting and enforcing them. A strong legal framework is a prerequisite for an independent judiciary. In transitional environments, IILHR supports justice institutions and members of parliament to achieve measurable improvements in effectiveness, transparency, and fairness. IILHR also recognizes the broad and crosscutting nature of justice systems, working with our law school partners to identify best practices worldwide that can facilitate dialogue and cooperation. IILHR works to ensure constitutional protections for an independent judiciary, and we work closely with jurists, members of parliaments, and civil society to ensure that judges and courts have the resources, legal tools, and institutional protections necessary to ensure their independence.
In many countries making the transition from conflict to stable, just, and democratic governance, few issues are as fraught or contentious as the rights of minorities. Many new governments find implementation of constitutional guarantees to minorities among the most challenging tasks they face. IILHR works with our governmental, international, and non-governmental partners to suggest resolution of minority problems based on both international legal standards and best practices around the world. We also work closely with minority leaders and organizations to encourage careful and detailed documentation of the human rights environment and to help build a legal framework that can protect minority rights.
IILHR views the rule of law as a critical component to any strategy aimed at building a stable, prosperous society. Rule of law usually encompasses law and order, a government bound by laws, efficient and equitable justice, equality before the law, adherence to human rights, and the acceptance of rights and responsibilities alike by the public at large. To support these objectives, IILHR works with local partners to strengthen and reform legal frameworks at all levels and to ensure that legislatures, ministries, the courts, and the legal profession support both a culture of lawfulness and access to justice for all. An integrated approach to training, mentoring, and institution building is required to link critical justice institutions starting from police, to courts, to prosecutors, to defense counsel, to prisons. Depending on the situation and needs of our local partners, IILHR works with our law school partners to design and implement holistic and integrated rule of law programs that systematically address reform and capacity building of the many actors required to build respect for the rule of law.
Supporting women’s rights is an integral part of supporting human rights. IILHR provides support for and analysis of draft legislation, including social benefits, social security, and women’s rights legislation. We work with local civil society leaders in countries recovering from conflict to design advocacy agendas that will prevent the marginalization or exclusion of women from political participation and public life. IILHR works with government officials and NGOs to ensure effective enforcement of laws against gender-based violence and to ensure accurate and comprehensive documentation of gaps in services to victims and survivors. IILHR also works to encourage and support women candidates, parliamentarians, and caucuses. In the future, IILHR plans to develop educational campaigns to get women involved in the political process, such as encouraging women to run for national or local office and educating disenfranchised women about their right to vote.
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