Access to justice for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community is under threat.
Today marks the 8th World Day of Social Justice, an awareness day initiated by the United Nations to focus attention on social justice issues. Each year focuses on a specific injustice, with previous years addressing issues like human trafficking, forced labour or rights at work. 2017 shines the spotlight on fair trade, working conditions, and putting an end to human exploitation.
LexisNexis® invites you to explore the LexisNexis Rule of Law Impact Tracker, freely available online. The Rule of Law Impact Tracker is an interactive tool that quantifies the relationships between the rule of law and economic and social indicators.
It is not peculiar to the South China Sea (SCS) that commercial incentives to catch as many fish as possible encourage over-exploitation of fish stocks and threaten the integrity of the marine ecosystem.
Every year hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Australia visit community legal centres and other legal assistance services to seek free legal help for a variety of legal problems.
The disputes in the South China Sea provide the Asia-Pacific with an opportunity to pursue institutional renewal aimed at strengthening the rule of law. A major issue now facing the region is the standing of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) and the legitimacy of related NATO-based legal institutions as arbitrators of disputes in the Asia-Pacific.
Forty four per cent of women in Vanuatu experienced domestic violence in the past twelve months, 22,901 in total, and in only two per cent of cases did police lay charges.
The Myanmar corporate sector is growing at a rapid pace. At the start of the country’s economic and political reforms in 2011, there were almost 20,000 registered companies in Myanmar. Today, just five years later, there are almost 55,000 companies registered in Myanmar. This is set to grow as Myanmar turns a new chapter in its history. In April 2016, for the first time in over fifty years, a democratically elected government took office, led by the country’s democracy icon Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi.
As businesses seek to create and grow in new markets around the world, strong rule of law brings with it several beneficial economic imperatives. Corporate citizens have a very important role to play and, as a global business, LexisNexis® prides itself on its contribution to advancing the rule of law.
In our modern democratic societies, one imagines that the legal system itself will be both the personification and the embodiment of the ‘rule of law’. It was Lord Bingham, one of Britain’s most senior judges, who pointed to the observation by Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States) that the single most important contributor to economic growth was the rule of law.
One of the most promising global developments in the field of law in recent years has been the growth of pro bono practice. Provision of legal services to those who cannot afford a lawyer helps expand access to justice and supports the humanitarian missions of communities that find themselves outside the umbrella of the protection of the rule of law.
You may have thought that a country with the dark history of being founded as a penal colony, and whose convict heritage is now a badge of honour for many Australians, would have a more compassionate perspective on crime and punishment.
Working in fragile and post-conflict environments, I have been surprised to hear the term “rule of law” used so commonly. In my prior work as a lawyer in Australia, the term had seemed somewhat confined and definable as a means of ensuring that no person was above the law. In the humanitarian environment however, it seemed that the term “rule of law” was used as a catch-ll solution to a society’s problems.
The Philippine Group of Law Librarians, Inc. (PGLL) was established in 1981 with the primary purpose of working for the interest of law librarians, law libraries and maintaining the highest standards for law librarianship.
In December 2015, 195 countries came together at the annual UN climate change conference and agreed to the Paris Agreement, a new international treaty which sets out the framework by which countries will take action to avoid climate change.
The revised Laws of Fiji were announced at the April sitting of Parliament in the nation’s capital of Suva – thanks to the help of LexisNexis Rule of Law program.
We publish Advancing Together biannually to bring together views and insights from thought leaders on current affairs and developments that impact the advancement, and sometimes the erosion, of the rule of law in the Asia Pacific region.
In his foreword to this thought-provoking book, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG wrote: "Practical individuals with conscience can sometimes help to change the world. Occasionally, they are lawyers."
"Two of the most important sources of law in any country are legislation and case law. If ambiguity or vagueness exists in either of these, then a state of general legal uncertainty prevails. Similarly, the larger a body of statute and case law becomes, the greater the potential for legal uncertainty should these laws be out-of-date, inaccessible and unconsolidated. In such circumstances, access to and knowledge of the law is effectively denied. An inevitable consequence of this is the impediment of the administration of justice."
South-east Asia is a region of immense diversity, and difficult to manage effectively without a nuanced, market-specific, strategy. The opportunities are significant. And so are the challenges. South-east Asia is home to some of the fastest growing middle-class economies, while frontier markets such as Myanmar present numerous opportunities as the country looks to open its doors to global trade for the first time following decades of military rule. Whether investing in, or operating a business in the region, weak rule of law, erratic regulation and poor governance present significant risks. The uncertainty is compounded by weak institutions, pervasive corruption and significant contractual risks.
Today, millions of Indonesians lack legal or national identity papers such as marriage or even birth certificates. In the poorest of households up to 55 per cent of couples do not have a formal marriage certificate, while an estimated 47 per cent, or almost 40 million children, either do not have a birth certificate, or the parents claim that they have but cannot produce it (Baseline Study on Legal Identity: Indonesia’s Missing Millions, 2014). Data from the Ministry of Home Affairs suggests that the figure for those lacking a birth certificate is as high as 76 per cent or more than 50 million individuals from the population in total.
The rule of law in many Indigenous communities is in a state of neglect and disrepair. This state of affairs is a result of 200 years of dispossession. If the rule of law is something to be aspired to, and it is, then its restoration in Indigenous communities can only be achieved by an authentic attempt to return country and the traditional law that is inseparably connected to it. The rule of law and Native Title are therefore inseparably intertwined. To this end Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), for example Native Title Services Victoria, for whom I interned this winter, are not only bodies dedicated to the restitution of dispossessed Indigenous land, but are in fact champions of the rule of law. Their role in promoting the rule of law in Australia is poorly understood and unappreciated. This article seeks to remedy this anonymity.
Usually when there is public discussion of Australia’s international human rights obligations, it is assumed that it falls to government to ensure that people in Australia enjoy their human rights. However, businesses have a key role to play in achieving practical human rights outcomes.
In Australia alone, a woman is subjected to domestic or family violence every four minutes,(1) and a woman is killed as result of that violence every week.(2) Of women over the age of 15, one in three has experienced intimate partner violence, one in five has experienced sexual violence, and one in four has experienced emotional abuse.(3) A silent, widely underreported crime, these numbers likely only tell part of the whole story.
Many Australian businesses now recognise that respect for human rights is not only the right thing to do, it is also beneficial for business. With enhanced innovation and productivity linked to the respect and promotion of human rights, businesses are increasingly taking proactive steps to support human rights: revamping their bullying, harassment and discrimination policies, ensuring there are robust internal grievance processes in place, openly reporting on their ways of working and reviewing their supply chains, and integrating human rights policies into their workplaces. However, there is growing recognition that business has a role to play not only in promoting human rights at an organizational level, but also at a higher institutional level. Respecting the significance of law, and particularly the rule of law, as a mechanism for promoting and enforcing rights is inextricably linked to the way companies engage in business.
The rule of law is an investment in the future: it has a strong impact on economic growth, sustainable development, human rights, and access to justice. In an ideal world, no one should be above the law, but in reality 57 per cent of the global population is struggling for human rights. This is four billion people, who are not under the shelter of the law. The aim of LexisNexis is to reduce these numbers by providing outstanding legal solutions and technology services to customers in legal, corporate, government, accounting, tax, and academic institutions. We want to ensure that the administration of justice is maintained, and we want to enable legal professionals to make better decisions and achieve better results. The rule of law is the unifying central premise behind the work of LexisNexis with its clients and communities.
I was first introduced to Myanmar by our customers. Sometime in early 2013, I started receiving queries from lawyers and businesses in Japan, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia about the country. Some were about to start doing business there, some were already there and plans were underway for significant investment into the country. They wanted to know if LexisNexis was there supporting the rule of law, and whether we were able to help them gain clarity of the myriad of rules, regulations, policies (or lack of them) to help as they navigate their way around doing business in Myanmar.
The first thing I learnt in Tok Pisin - the language of PNG - was the widespread term wantok; loosely translated to one talk or someone who speaks my language. It conveys a sense of loyalty, family, community and togetherness. Yet the underlying reality of this saying also feeds the corruption which plagues layers of Papua New Guinean culture. Favouring one’s wantok over others in addition to an inherent tribal loyalty inevitably leads to a nepotistic society.
At the LexisNexis® Rule of Law Now event held in New York in September 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the Business for the Rule of Law (B4ROL) initiative, to engage the business community in efforts to support the rule of law. In March this year, Joanne Beckett, General Manager of LexisNexis Legal & Professional Australia, together with the UN Global Compact Network Australia, hosted Australia’s B4ROL Workshop. The Workshop was just one of several held around the world in a joint effort by the United Nations Global Compact and LexisNexis, to serve as a critical resource in developing a global B4ROL Framework (Framework).
All educated persons, especially (but not only) those in places with an English heritage, think they know what the Magna Carta is and why it is important to our lives – but it is always helpful to stop and think about objects that have passed into legend and that over time have acquired significance and value that the originators could never have foreseen. A common view is that King John made an agreement with the barons in 1215, that the document became “law”, it created rights, it has been construed and applied ever since and it is the source of most that is good in public administration — including democracy, the separation of powers, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, trial by jury and equality before the law. That is only partly true. The real story is much more interesting (although perhaps not as satisfying), but there is space here to tell only some of it.
In March 2015, LexisNexis held a Pacific Consultation Workshop in Sydney with the critical purpose of ensuring that our region is included in a global framework. It will ultimately take the form of a guide for all businesses on how they can support the rule of law.
Two controversial incidents of public disclosure of restricted information in recent years - the WikiLeaks release of confidential US State Department cables in 2010, and the leaking of classified National Security Agency documents by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden in 2013 – have forced various governments to grapple with a critical question: how, if at all, do acts of whistleblowing that break certain laws fit in a society that adheres to the rule of law? Addressing this question also seems to be the implicit goal of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (henceforth referred to as the PID Act), which came to effect in Australia on January 15, 2014. According to a PID Act information sheet, (available online at http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/docs/fact-sheets/Ombudsman_PID_Fact_SheetA.pdf), the primary aim of the Act is to provide all whistleblowing actions legally-sanctioned framework that not only encourages such acts in order to ensure consistent integrity and accountability in the public sector, but also provides legal protection to whistleblowers. In a way, the PID Act exemplifies governmental processes that strive to accommodate whistleblowing in a rule of law based socio-political structure.
The rule of law is a fundamental driver for advanced societies, providing certainty and access to justice for individuals and corporations. Legal content and technology organisations interact on many levels to support the rule of law (local and global, online and print, free and commercial), connecting various stakeholders with authoritative content and rich data via a range of platforms and channels suited to the individual’s or organisation’s needs.
Cambodia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. More than 60 per cent of people reported having to pay bribes to the judiciary, police, registry services, and land services over the past year. Kristy Fleming, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Voice - a charity, committed to giving a voice to marginalised and disempowered people - says that despite the Declaration of Human Rights (enshrined in Cambodia’s Constitution) affording everyone the right to food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services, the reality for the almost 20 per cent of people in Cambodia that live below the poverty line is significantly different.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, has undergone a profound democratic transformation since the fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998. Yet, the nation still faces significant challenges in advancing the rule of law. The newly-inaugurated President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) brings a reputation of consultative political reformer to the post, but he would have to contend with the power of entrenched vested interests if he was to enact change at the national level.
LexisNexis employees across the Pacific had the opportunity to enter 500 words or less explaining what they have done to help advance the rule of law for a chance to win a trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to visit the two crisis centres run by Voice. The lucky winners were Laura McKnight and Caron Wadick, both from the Sydney office, Australia. Laura’s application was successful due to the work she did leading the fundraising activities LexisNexis Cares Committee (LN Cares) ran in 2013, raising AUD$25,000 for Voice. Caron’s winning application was selected on the back of the pro-bono legal aid work she carries out in communities in need within Sydney.
Following years of adverse reports, and recent unsatisfactory experience during the Universal Periodic Review, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2013, established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) on alleged human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (North Korea). The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG was appointed Chair of the COI. Other members were Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), and Sonja Biserko (Serbia). The COI was created without a call for a vote. It reported within time, unanimously, and in a document made vivid and readable by its inclusion of extracts from testimony of victims collected during public hearings.