By Sophie Geoghegan
Since our last newsletter, many more exciting developments have been occurring in Myanmar as part of the BABSEACLE, UNDP, DLA Piper/New Perimeter and Herbert Smith Freehills project ‘Bringing Clinical Legal Education to Myanmar.’
We had 46 participants from Myanmar attend the 3rd Asia Pro Bono Conference including university faculty members, students, lawyers, government officials and BABSEACLE team members. Many of these delegates stayed on in Singapore to attend the South East Asia Legal Aid Network (SEALAW) meeting held on October 5th, an Externship Programme Building Workshop on October 6th, and university visits to the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) on October 7th. Having such a large delegation from Myanmar attend the Conference is a great start to the preparations for the 4th Asia Pro Bono Conference & Legal Ethics Forum, which will be held in Mandalay in September 2015.
A South East Asia Legal Aid Network (SEALAW) meeting was held at the Drew & Napier office in Singapore and bought together the members of SEALAW to discuss how they can collaborate and cooperate with Myanmar Legal Aid Network (MLAW). An Externship Programme Building Workshop was held at NUS with international trainers Catherine Klein, Leah Wortham and Susan Brooks. The workshop focused on introducing externship programmes into universities, including the benefits and challenges that universities may face when establishing externship programmes, with groups, comprised of law faculty members, students, and practitioners, brainstorming solutions to these obstacles, with input from successful externship programme case studies. The university visits offered participants the opportunity to explore other CLE programmes, see how they are run and pose their questions to the students and supervisors who work on these programmes.
A training on Integrating CLE Methods into Law Department Curriculum was held at Yadanabon University in November with 49 participants from the universities of Magway, Mandalay, Mandalay Distance Education, Monywa, Myitkyina, National University of Laos, Pinlong, Taunggyi and Yadanabon as well as lawyers and law officers from the Rule of Law programme, a UNDP representative and international trainers Bebs Chorak, Bruce Lasky, Jake Stevens and Helen Yandell. A CLE workshop was hosted by East Yangon University in November 2014, with participants from Sittwe University, Pathein University and the National University of Laos.
This quarter has seen many successful meetings, including a meeting with the Ministry of Education wherein the Ministry expressed enthusiasm and support for the programme, as well as a dinner with officials from the government and from the UNDP to discuss the progress of the programme and future plans for how the government can support and encourage the universities and their CLE programmes.
We have also partnered up with USAID for their ‘Protecting the Rule of Law Programme’ (PRLP) in Myanmar. They will support CLE in Myanmar through workshops, curriculum development, bringing in international trainers and clinicians, amongst other activities vital to the success of the programme. They will support the upcoming Mock Trial workshop at Yangon University of Distance Education and will also support delegates to participate in the National Mock Trial event at Dagon University in February 2015. The CLE Project Management Team and university partners have also been collaborating closely the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and Advocates Sans Frontieres (ASF) and BABSEA CLE Consortium on the UNDP supported Rule of Law Pilot Project. Participants from CLE programme and Rule of Law Pilot Project have attended a number of workshops/trainings hosted by the other. This has included participants of the Rule of Law Pilot Project attending the Inaugural Upper Myanmar Mock Trial upcoming Mock Trial Workshops and then continuing to hold further Mock Trial workshops using the materials provided.
The networks created through the interactions of these two impactful initiatives have further strengthened the success of CLE in Myanmar and added great strength to the Rule of Law Pilot Project.
We have about to begin placing many of our Clinicians in Residence at their host universities where they will help with developing curricula, integrating CLE and strategic planning. We hope to include their experiences and reflections in our next newsletter. Each university has also been designated an international CLE expert as their mentor to guide them through any obstacles and offer help virtually to support the progress at each university.
Plans are well underway for the National Mock Trial Event, which will be held at Dagon University in February 2015. More information on the Mock Trials is available here. Our partner universities are also busy preparing their micro grant proposals and strategic plans for the implementation of their desired CLE programmes. Plans are also being made for Myanmar participants to take part in exchanges and study visits as well as participate in BABSEACLE’s Access to Justice Weekend to be held in January in Chiang Mai (for more information on this event please visit www.trioforjustice.org).
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