By: Maxwell Abbott.
In furtherance of the development of clinical legal education (CLE) in Myanmar, five Myanmar law teachers participated in the 8th Worldwide Global Alliance for Justice Education Conference and the 13th International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference, held in partnership in Eskişehir, Turkey, from 22 July through 28 July 2015.The events consisted of two parts: a General Conference consisting of plenaries and concurrent sessions (22-25 July) and a Training-of-Trainers (TOT) workshop (27-28 July).
The events wereco-organized by the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE), which works to promote CLE and other socially relevant forms of legal education, and the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE), an international peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to the innovative field of CLE. The journal is edited and staffed at Northumbria University (UK).
The participating Myanmar law teachers included: Ms. Su Nandar (Mawlamyaing University), Ms. Nang Tit (Taunggyi University), Ms. Aye Aye Myint (Taungoo University), Ms. Dawt Nei Lang (Mandalay University of Distance Education), and Dr. Phyu Phyu Tint (Pathein University).Wendy Morrish, President of BABSEACLE, Bruce A. Lasky, Director of BABSEACLE, and Nwe Mar, BABSEACLE Myanmar National Programme Coordinator, accompanied the law teachers. Attendance of the teachers was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Promoting Rule of Law Programme (PRLP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
With a theme of “Justice Education for a Just Society” the GAJE/IJCLE Conference sought to provide law teachers, law students, legal practitioners, jurists, and social activists from around the world the opportunity to acquire new ideas, models, and skills for the use of education to promote social justice. In a range of plenary, small-group, and workshop sessions, the Myanmar law teaches explored Justice Education as a concept for presenting, discussing, and creating innovative ideas for promoting social justice through legal education, including new and existing university legal clinics. Each law teacher also presented on a unique CLE model they are currently implementing in Myanmar, including Mock Trial, Community Teaching, In-House Consultation Clinics, Externships, and CLE Distance Education.
Capping off the General Conference was a two-day TOT workshop, which focused on active learning and experiential education. It was led by an international group of highly experienced justice educators. The TOT workshop was of particular relevance for the Myanmar law teachers who will share the knowledge they gained with their colleagues after returning home.
Through this event, the Myanmar law teachers acquired relevant experience and a deep understanding of Access to Justice topics that will facilitate the advancement of CLE at their home universities. Dr. Phyu Phyu Tint, reflecting on her experience in Turkey, said she had sharpened her listening, speaking and critical thinking skills, and was inspired to “explore legal education based on the needs of local communities. I now expect to produce skilful lawyers with a pro bono ethic that will work to serve their communities.”
In addition, the Myanmar law teachers met lawyers, researchers, educators and other international stakeholders in the field of Access to Justice. Ms. Aye Aye Myint highly valued these new connections, stating, “The conference helped me to acquire new ideas, models and skills from countries around the world. The connections I made will help support the future of legal education in Myanmar.”
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE)
BABSEACLE is a not-for-profit organization, which was originally established as a programme of Bridges Across Borders in 2003. Through CLE programmes, BABSEACLE intends to improve access to justice across Southeast Asia by educating the social justice, pro bono champions of tomorrow as they serve the legal needs of marginalized communities today. Since 2002, BABSEACLE has been working collaboratively with universities, law students, lawyers, and members of the legal community to build networks of legal professionals and community leaders in more than fifteen countries, with a strong focus in Southeast Asia. www.babseacle.org
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Promoting Rule of Law Programme (PRLP)
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. USAID will support a comprehensive assessment of rule of law issues, and work with the Government of Myanmar and other stakeholders to strengthen the rule of law by encouraging reform in the justice sector, to include fostering the independence of the judiciary; increasing access to justice; and empowering ethnic communities and underserved men and women in remote areas to participate meaningfully in the policy reform process.www.usaid.gov
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crises, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, UNDP offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org.
DLA Piper/New Perimeter
DLA Piper is a global law firm with 4,200 lawyers located in more than 30 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, positioning it to help companies with their legal needs anywhere in the world. New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s nonprofit that provides pro bono legal assistance primarily in less developed and post-conflict regions, draws on the skills and talents of DLA Piper’s lawyers globally. New Perimeter focuses its projects in the areas of legal education, access to justice and law reform, women’s and children’s rights, environmental protection, economic development and food security. www.dlapiper.com;www.newperimeter.org.
Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), is a global law firm, a long-standing partner of BABSEA CLE, and a leader in the international pro bono movement. The firm provides pro bono legal services which increases access to justice and opportunity, with a special focus on working with local legal institutions to build rule of law. This includes supporting initiatives which contribute to rule of law curriculum and training development with BABSEA CLE partners in Asia. HSF brings to this project its legal expertise, and a network of trainers, project planners and outreach materials to be used to strengthen the CLE development in Myanmar. www.herbertsmithfreehills.com
“This study/report/audio/visual/other information/media product (specify) is made possible, in-part, by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.”