Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Professor Kelley Participates in the World Justice Forum in Vienna

As noted in the update post, Professor Kelley participated in the recent World Justice Forum held in Vienna, Austria, July 2-5, 2008. This forum brought together five hundred recognized leaders from throughout the world to officially launch the World Justice Project (WPJ), a new multidisciplinary, multinational movement to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. As was reported in the international media, participants represented "95 countries and 15 disciplines and featured Supreme Court justices, former European presidents, Nobel Laureates and other world leaders."

ABA President and WJP founder William H. Neukom stated that the forum was about “actions, not discussions; programs, not declarations” and stressed the multi-disciplinary aspects of the project. Participants included rule of law experts and high-profile leaders from a wide range of disciplines. At the forum, they discussed cross-disciplinary collaborations that can advance the rule of law and will determine the future focus of the World Justice Project.

The WJP working definition of the rule of law comprises four universal principles:
  1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property;
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient;
  4. The laws are upheld, and access to justice is provided, by competent, independent, and ethical law enforcement officials, attorneys or representatives, and judges, who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
The Forum featured discussions on multidisciplinary approaches to advancing the rule of law and presentations on work sponsored by the WJP. Two main elements of the project were introduced at the forum: the Rule of Law Index and the Opportunity Fund. The new Index is considered to be the first comprehensive measure of a countries’ adherence to the rule of law. It represents an expanded measurement of rule of law, evaluating 100 different variables that make up the rule of law.

The second prong is an Opportunity Fund that will provide seed money for pilot programs developed during the Forum. Participants will be encouraged to submit applications centered on programs to advance the rule of law in their communities. Distributions of $10,000 to $20,000 are expected to be made for those programs.

The Forum was the culmination of Phase I of the World Justice Project; future forums will analyze programs that have been incubated with the funding announced today, and with additional monies as fundraising efforts continue.

We were honored that the school of law was represented at the forum and look forward to the exciting work of the WJP.

An Update on Summer Activities

Although the LL.M. Program is not in session over the summer months, a lot of exciting work takes place during this time.

This summer, we are pleased to report two improvements in our physical facilities.
  • Thanks to generous assistance from our alumni, we have been able add audiovisual capability to the new LL.M. Study. We will now be able to use this spectacular room for classes and special lectures as well as study space. Special thanks to Lisa Schreurs for her work coordinating this project.
  • And, the school of law is in the process of renovating two of its classrooms to integrate state-of-the-art video conferencing and classroom capture equipment. The video conferencing equipment will allow us to further expand our use of digital video conferenced (DVC) lectures and discussions.
Meanwhile, Professor Kelley and I have had a busy travel schedule. He began the summer with a visit to Ukraine where he made presentations to a number of audiences, furthered our DVC collaboration plans with law schools in Ukraine, and worked on plans for the visit of Ukrainian judges and law professors this fall. He was then off to Russia to attend an international law conference in St. Petersburg. His next venue was Vienna, Austria where he participated in the World Justice Forum. More on that in a special post.

I have been basing my work from our farm in southern Minnesota this summer. I made my annual trek north with all of the dogs and cats in tow (not literally, of course; they ride in the comfort of a van).

I met Christopher in Vienna where I was delighted to hear about some of the exciting work going on at the World Justice Forum and to meet some of the participants. While the forum was in session, I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful city and to sample the local cuisine.
A separate post on that . . .

I am writing this post from our farm in Minnesota, back at work on the new agricultural law casebook that I am working on for Carolina Press.

It has been many years since the publication of the initial Agricultural Law J.D. casebook written by Professors Don Pedersen (University of Arkansas and former Director of the LL.M. Program), Keith Meyer (University of Kansas), and Norman Thorson (University of Nebraska) was published, and that fine work is now out of date. It is my hope that this new issues-based casebook will provide law professors with an interesting opportunity to teach an agricultural law survey course based on current issues involving our food system.

Christopher will soon head back to Ukraine where he is teaching a session on legal writing to Ukrainian summer law clerks and participating in the strategic planning process for the international firm that he works with, Inyurpolis.

Throughout the busy summer, we have enjoyed hearing from our new LL.M. candidates, fielding questions about the program and assisting them with their plans. I am particularly pleased to report that our most recently admitted candidate from Ukraine, Ulyana just received her visa and will be arriving in Arkansas next month.

We will be posting an introduction to each of our candidates soon - this year promises to be another excellent year for the LL.M. Program. Stay tuned!