Rule of Law Fellowship Programme, November 2014
From November 1 – 21, 2014 twenty-three Fellows from the Middle East, many of whom are working on the frontline to promote the rule of law and tackle the worsening humanitarian crises in the region, visited the UK for the latest John Smith Rule of Law Fellowship Programme.
Supported by the FCO’s Arab Partnership Fund, the Fellowship included workshops and meetings with leading practitioners from academia, business, law, media, public and not-for-profit sectors. Throughout the UK programme each Fellow worked on developing an Action Plan to promote the Rule of Law in their own societies and communities.
The first official workshop of the Fellowship looked at Theories of Change with Dan Corry (New Philanthropy Capital) and Duncan Green (Oxfam) presenting their perspectives. Fellows were then requested to present their own theories of change of how to tackle corruption in the Middle East. Duncan Green wrote about his experience with the JST Fellows on his blog http://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/what-happens-when-20-middle-east-decision-makers-discuss-theories-of-change/
On a visit to Westminster Fellows were given an introduction to the UK parliamentary system by Lord Dubs, Lord Purvis and Colin Lee - Commons Clerk and Chief of Staff. This was followed by watching parliament in practice at Question Time in the House of Lords and meeting with the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
“Rule of law is a process not an event”
Other workshops over the three weeks included:
- An overview of the Rule of Law with Professor Ben Bowling where discussion centred around the accountability of law enforcers;
- The fight against crime and corruption with Professor Jeremy Carver of Transparency International and Anna Fielder of Privacy International;
- Issues of cybercrime, freedom of expression and online extremism with Professor Peter Neumann, Jonathan Russell of the Quilliam Foundation and cyber-security expert Sebastian Madden;
- Considering the future of conflict and hard versus soft power with Colonel Graham Cundy and Mark Muller QC
The Fellows spent 5 days of the programme embarking on individual attachments visits with UK experts and advisors relevant to their own fields of work and who may assist them in developing their Action Plan ideas into realisable projects.
‘How many young Arabs are waiting for the opportunity to serve their country – what would happen if they were given it?’
These visits included:Rights of Women, Equaliity Now, Amnesty International, Women’s Resource Centre, Women for Women International, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Democratic Progress Institute; Solace Women’s Aid; Police Foundation, Kent’s Youth Offending Team, Thames Valley Police, Restorative Justice; Wandsworth Youth Council; The Reading Agency, Bradford Council, British Institute for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Anglo-Omani Society.
“When I was chosen as a candidate for the Fellowship I did not realise how rich an experience it would be.”
On the final day of the programme, Fellows presented their Action Plan ideas in front of an audience at the Royal Society. For example:
Deputy Attorney General Rami Salah spoke about his plan for reforming the prosecution system in Jordan. Over the coming year he aims to train public prosecutors to investigate issues such as terrorism, money laundering, asses recovery, anti corruption and cyber crime.
Jordanian Fellows: Tamara AlAbbadi, Dana Al Dairani, Malak Al Hasoun, Zain Batarseh, Farah Jadallah, Raed Madanat and Rami Salah.
Badriya Al Harrasi from Oman reported her plan to raise awareness of women’s legal rights – legal awareness in Oman is low and women often do not know where to go when they need legal support. Therefore, Badriya aims to run workshops with women about the legal rights and would eventually like to set up a legal clinic for women.
Omani Fellows: Badriya Al Harrasi and Maryam Al Nasseri.
As Head of Media at the Department of Health in Bahrain Maryam AlManaseer is focusing her Action Plan on the rights and needs of disabled children. She plans to establish an independent advisory council that will address gaps in public health and social care policy that currently overlook the needs of disabled children. She also aims to raise awareness and build capacity of those who care for disabled children so that they can address these needs.
Bahraini Fellows: Ali AlSabbagh, Maryam AlManaseer, Rashid Khan and Mai Matar.
Asmaa Al Ameen presented her project for the protection of rights of prisoners and detainees in Kirkuk, Iraq. Her three-step plan includes: building the capacity of NGOs that monitor human rights abuses of prisoners; setting up an umbrella organisation consisting of the participant NGOs; and running an awareness campaign for police and jail staff.
Iraqi Fellows: Razaw Ahmed, Asmaa Al Ameen, Ali Al Sudany, Falah Shakaram, and Nigar Sadar Mohammed.
Finally, we heard from Rabih Kerbaj from Lebanon whose Action Plan will focus on empowering the rights of minorities by promoting the meaning of citizenship through awareness raising and industry seminars. His aim is to increase representation of minorities in businesses and tackle discrimination.
Lebanese Fellows: Hamze Ahmad, Elie Fahed, Nabil Frem, Rhea Jabbour and Rabih Kerbaj.
On Tuesday 11th November, Fellows visited the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office where they met with Tim Stew, Head for the Arab Partnership Programme, to learn more about the Programme’s work in their region as well as to receive their programme certificates.