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Previous Conferences and Symposia

Practical Approaches to Strengthening Judicial Institutions

October 10, 2017

Washington, DC
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Main Auditorium

On October 10, 2017, the Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) at the University of South Carolina held the JUSTRAC symposium, Practical Approaches to Strengthening Judicial Institutions, at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

This public symposium brought together policymakers, scholars, and practitioners to examine practical interventions that can strengthen judicial institutions. The symposium’s keynote speaker, the Honorable Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Former Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice, discussed the challenges of maintaining judicial independence and integrity in the face of political and social pressures. The symposium also included three interactive panels, focused on judicial independence, judicial integrity and the role of civil society in strengthening judicial institutions. The event utilized case studies from experienced development professionals who have worked with judiciaries in the developing world. Speakers included judicial professionals, administrators, and other experienced practitioners who spoke directly to specific programs that have strengthened judicial institutions in a range of country settings. Speakers provided lessons learned from both donor and implementation perspectives, and some had the unique perspective of operating inside the judiciary. The panels were structured in an interactive, discussion-style format with audience question and answer periods. A networking lunch was also scheduled.

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Lessons from the Field: Innovation in Rule of Law Programming

June 23, 2017


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On June 23, 2017, the Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) at the University of South Carolina held the JUSTRAC symposium, Lessons from the Field: Innovation in Rule of Law Programming, at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.

This symposium was the second installment in an annual series of JUSTRAC symposia that examine the need and context for innovation in international rule of law programming. Building on the success of last year’s innovation symposium, this symposium focused on innovative approaches to the following challenges in rule of law programming: building political will, overcoming obstacles in the course of program implementation, and incorporating innovative technology into programs. In addition, there was an emphasis on the role and perspectives of international rule of law donors, both domestic and international.

Expert panels explored each of these topics from multiple perspectives. Moderators and speakers engaged in a discussion-style format and drew on each presenter’s experience to illustrate the broader themes of discussion and ground the issues discussed in a real-world context. In the spirit of innovation, the symposium adopted interactive components for all parts of the day-long session, allowing participants to actively engage with symposium speakers. Sheldon Himelfarb, President and CEO of PeaceTech Lab, addressed the group as Keynote Speaker.

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Private Enterprise Engagement in the Rule of Law

May 17, 2017

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Private enterprise has demonstrated increasing interest in supporting rule of law development in recent years, and this engagement has become more sophisticated as it has taken on greater importance. This is for good reason: adherence to rule of law – including through the protection of investments and property rights, such as intellectual property, contractual rights, and legal identity – forms an essential foundation of economic and social development. Rule of law constitutes a key part of the enabling environment in which responsible businesses can play an optimal role in helping drive sustainable development.

Vibrant private enterprises can not only contribute to the thriving of local and national economies, thereby promoting growth, they can help government operate more efficiently and transparently when they partner with local and national governments in an effective way. Such partnerships are capable of providing a range of added social benefits.

This public symposium convened corporate and private foundation leaders, policymakers, and others to discuss the span of engagements between private enterprise and the rule of law. Particular attention was paid to how private enterprises have evolved internally to increase self-regulation through corporate social responsibility efforts, which not only seek to benefit the societies they serve but also maximize investment. The symposium delved into how private enterprise has also spurred better governance and the development of substantive laws within the countries in which they operate as rule of law architects. Finally, the symposium offered various case studies in more traditional rule of law engagement from private foundations and public-private partnerships aimed at advancing the rule of law.

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Bridging the Divide: African American Communities and Law Enforcement

April 7, 2017


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Symposium Agenda


Tensions between African-American communities and law enforcement continue to rise in the United States. The difficult relationship is further evident in the deep-rooted racial divisions in the public’s view of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Recent experiences have exacerbated long-standing tensions and widened the gap between these two groups. On April 7, 2017, the University of South Carolina  convened a symposium to address one possible solution to bridge the divide between African-American communities and law enforcement: wide-scale restorative justice.

The main objective of the conference was to explore whether restorative justice mechanisms—in particular Truth and Reconciliation Commissions—could help to bridge the divide between African-American communities and the law enforcement officers and agencies that serve these (and other) communities. Can these mechanisms help restore the social fabric? Is a nationwide solution possible and, if so, what would such a solution look like? What type of mechanism would be most appropriate in bridging the divide? How do we move from rhetoric to action? The focus was specifically on this particular divide, which has been at the heart of unrest across the country, with an eye to considering restorative justice as a mechanism for healing and to forge a path forward.

This day-long symposium was free and open to the USC community and to the public.

Youth and the Rule of Law in Sub-Saharan Africa
March 6-8, 2017

Cape Town, South Africa

The shift toward younger populations is a global phenomenon, but nowhere is the phenomenon—and the accompanying youth bulge—more pronounced or has the growth been faster than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recognizing this reality along with the role that youth played in shaping the Arab Spring, the African Union has made youth empowerment a top priority in its planning.

With countries across Sub-Saharan Africa facing crises in their justice systems, security sectors, and economies, young people offer both the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge to development and security. Youth can drive economic growth and can serve as a force for innovation. They can offer support for governance and for political reforms. At the same time, an unsettled youth population can be a destabilizing force in light of increased unemployment levels, increased urbanization, and the potential to challenge state authority.

This three-day, invitation-only, roundtable symposium will examine the particular issues that relate to youth and the rule of law by bringing together thought leaders and stakeholders from within the U.S. Government, regional governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs, academia, and the private sector to focus on the specific nexus between youth and the rule of law in Sub-Saharan Africa. The symposium will organize participants into three thematic Working Groups: (a) Youth and Justice, (b) Youth and the Security Sector, and (c) Youth and the Economy. Working Group A will examine such issues as access to justice for youth and rights-based education. Working Group B will look at issues like policing and corrections, as well as youth engagement with security sector institutions. Working Group C will discuss economic opportunity for youth and the role of corruption, among other topics. Within its area of focus, each Working Group will consider ways in which youth can present opportunities and challenges for rule of law programs, as well as ways in which that area of focus interacts with those of the other two Working Groups.

At the end of the symposium, each Working Group will present to the plenary a set of recommendations addressed to governments in the region, international donors including U.S. Government agencies, multilateral organizations, and civil society organizations inside and outside the region. The recommendations will consider ways that rule of law programming can be shifted in light of the challenges and opportunities identified during the Working Group discussions. Those recommendations will be compiled in a symposium Final Report, which will be made publicly available on the JUSTRAC website.

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Lessons from the Field: Innovation in Rule of Law Programming
June 28, 2016

The Wilson Center
Washington, DC

In recent years, as resources for rule of law programming have shifted elsewhere, innovative rule of law programs have become indispensable. This symposium focused on three particular aspects of innovation: developing holistic approaches, adapting to unexpected developments, and building sustainable programs. It also looked at ways to incorporate various actors to allow for more realistic approaches to rule of law, considering ways in which citizens resolve their day-to-day problems. To ensure that the symposium itself matched the programs it sought to highlight, the symposium adopted interactive components for all parts of the day-long session, allowing participants to actively engage with symposium speakers.

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Exploring the Relationship between the Rule of Law and Violent Extremism in the Middle East
June 1-3, 2016

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The discussion on countering violent extremism has gained increasing importance in the public discourse in many countries in recent years. While it is increasingly clear that a state’s lack of adherence to rule of law principles can foment grievances that may contribute to violent extremism, the relationship of violent extremism to the rule of law has not been adequately addressed.  Recognizing that many factors contribute to violent extremism of individuals, a state’s robust adherence to the rule of law can help to provide a pathway to defuse grievances and avoid violence. As self-evident as this relationship might seem, few discussions have focused on the relationship between the rule of law and violent extremism and how these affect one another.

This invitation-only, workshop-style symposium seeks to examine how institutions—particularly those charged with upholding the rule of law—can contribute to the kinds of grievances that are associated with violent extremism. The symposium will also examine avenues for constructive institutional reform within the context of violent extremism. Participants will consider how injustices, both large and small, can feed into violent extremist narratives and how more inclusive approaches towards governance may increase public trust. Finally, the participants will focus on the unique issues faced by vulnerable populations in the Middle East, including the need for greater accountability and the protection of human dignity.

Composed of experts and stakeholders from the Middle East and beyond, the symposium will seek to generate specific recommendations for reform from thematic Working Groups that will address current themes impacting the rule of law and countering violent extremism.

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Rule of Law and the Environment: Rights, Resources and Governance
January 19, 2016

Main Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Washington, DC

On January 19, 2016, the Rule of Law Collaborative, in cooperation with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, hosted "Rule of Law and the Environment: Rights, Resources and Governance," a JusTRAC symposium that focused on the intersection between rule of law issues and the environment. Discussion focused on how rule of law plays a role in environmental harm and resource instability and how environment concerns and resource scarcity in turn create rule of law problems. The symposium brought together leading figures from key U.S. Government agencies, multilateral organizations, policy groups, non-governmental organizations and academia to consider the core issues as well as strategies and efforts to address rule of law challenges in the context of the environment.

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Enduring Prosperity and the Rule of Law for the Northern Triangle
October 1-2, 2015

San Salvador, El Salvador

Despite decades of direct foreign assistance by the United States, rule of law within most of Central America remains challenging. While the prospect of significant U.S. foreign assistance in the Northern Triangle, i.e., El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, looms on the horizon, various constituencies remain concerned that this renewed involvement will simply recycle stale ideas and ineffective approaches. If implemented, those ideas and approaches might not only cause foreign assistance efforts to fall into further disrepute, but also risk needlessly expending precious and scarce taxpayer resources for programming without remedying or improving the situation.

Consequently, helping to remedy the rule of law situation within the Northern Triangle requires a reimagining of rule of law programming that focuses on the foundational building blocks to a more effective rule of law: creating trust and promoting economic prosperity, which must operate on the condition that such programming cause no further harm to these fragile societies. This symposium addressed re-envisioning rule of law programming that takes into account, for example, promoting greater trust in the justice sector, protecting vulnerable populations, and considering ground-up approaches to promote the rule of law and coordinate thoughtful efforts to promote security and prosperity.

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A Forum on Eliminating Corruption and Promoting Economic Development in Ukraine
July 20-21, 2015

Prague, Czech Republic

This JusTRAC Symposium focused on Ukraine and brought together policymakers, business leaders, and academics to discuss the challenges of corruption and economic development, as well as opportunities for greater coordination and collaboration. Panelists were drawn from the Ukrainian business community, stakeholders in civil society, and policymakers chosen for their particular acumen in areas of commerce and economic prosperity.

The symposium culminated in a final report that summarizes the key points that emerge during these high-level discussions, as well as areas for further discussion.

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Empowering Women in Mixed Legal Systems
May 1, 2015

United States Institute of Peace
Washington, DC

On May 1, 2015, the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina (ROLC) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held the inaugural Justice Sector Training, Research and Coordination (JUSTRAC) Symposium, "Empowering Women in Mixed Legal Systems," at USIP headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Drawing upon the experience of experts and policymakers within government, academia, and non-governmental and international organizations, the symposium sought to identify both the challenges women face in "mixed" legal systems — legal systems that incorporate multiple legal influences, such as common, civil, customary, religious, or tribal laws or norms — as well as the potential mechanisms and modalities for empowering women in those systems. Symposium participants and speakers were encouraged to break from commonly-held assumptions about the ways in which women's rights are understood, appreciated and enhanced in order that future programming may lead to sustainable options.

The Honorable Catherine M. Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, opened the symposium and panelists from a variety of institutions engaged in thoughtful discussions about effective and sustainable mechanisms for improving women's social, economic and legal empowerment within such systems. The symposium also explored the strategies and pitfalls for women's access to and engagement with religious tribal or customary law and examined how to effectively and legitimately enhance the capacity and the participation of women in mixed legal environments. See the Ambassador's remarks as prepared, here:

ROLC Director Joel Samuels called the inaugural JUSTRAC Symposium "a premier forum for leading experts in women's rights and rule of law to share their experience and provide lessons that can help guide policymaking in these areas." ROLC Deputy Director Hamid Khan emphasized the symposium "will encourage academics, practitioners, and policymakers to think beyond the state-centric model and instead consider how other actors, such as religious or tribal community leaders, can play a role in empowering women in countries where these varied legal influences exist."

The JUSTRAC symposium is part of a series of activities on a variety of rule of law topics organized by ROLC as part of a five-year collaboration with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).


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Symposium on Institutional Capacity, Corruption, and Development
April 11, 2014

The past two decades have witnessed the emergence of an impressive array of academic scholarship on the topics of institutional capacity, corruption, and development.  This scholarship has focused on the unique individual challenges and nuances presented in each of these areas.  While the three concepts highlighted in this symposium have significant implications for one another, their interactional effects are enigmatic, complex, and not often explicitly examined. This symposium analyzed these effects by providing a forum for distinguished academics, policy analysts, government officials, and private sector actors to share their perspectives and discuss ways to combat corruption on a global scale.


Powerpoint Presentations

Anti-Corruption Efforts in the Private Sector, Shruti Shah, Transparency International-USA

When Do Voters Punish Corrupt Politicians? Experimental Evidence from Brazil, Miguel de Figueiredo, Northwestern University

Broken Windows Theory of Corruption, Roger Alford, Notre Dame Law School

Why UN Inspections? Accountability and the Rule of Law, Stuart Yeh, University of Minnesota

Why Is Corruption Like a Black Hole?, Daniel Schneider, American University

Gender and Corruption, Helena Olofsdotter Stensöta, University of Göteborg, Sweden

Interagency Workshop on Transitional Justice, Rule of Law and Post-Conflict Institution Building
July 18-19, 2013

Washington DC


The Rule of Law Collaborative hosted its third thematic course focusing on contemporary rule of law issues at the Institute of International Education in Washington, DC. In this workshop participants were given an overview of the field of transitional justice but were also exposed to a variety of subjects including a focus on institutional reform issues as well as topics related to transitional justice, but which may not traditionally fall within its framework. For instance displacement, the reintegration of ex-combatants, and the role of justice in peacebuilding have become important new practical challenges in need of addressing. This symposium was designed with the intention of coverning the wide variety of issues an individual working in a post-conflict environment might encounter where transitional justice mechanisms are at work.

Symposium on Justice Sector Reform in Tunisia
March 8, 2013

Washington, DC


The Tunisian judiciary today finds itself at the center of many of the most fundamental challenges facing the post-revolution state: drafting a new constitution, grappling with the role Shari'a should play, balancing popular opinion with the need to protect the rights of women and minorities, reforming the security sector, combatting corruption, and establishing order and the rule of law conducive to restoring a stable environment for business, tourism, and foreign investment. This symposium brought together leading academic experts on the Tunisian legal system and personnel from a wide array of USG agencies that are working to better understand the rapidly shifting legal landscape in Tunisia and the North African region and chart future initiatives to assist in reforming the legal system.

Symposium on the Egyptian Judiciary and Legal Reform
November 2, 2012

Washington, D.C.


This symposium brought together leading academic experts on the Egyptian legal system and personnel from a wide array of USG agencies working to better understand the rapidly shifting legal landscape in Egypt. The symposium was intended to spark lively discussion among USG agencies and between USG personnel and the academic community and included speakers from Human Rights First, George Washington University, Council on Foreign Relations, and various U.S. Government offices.

Joint Rule of Law/International Business Seminar:
Investing in the Bureaucracy or Working through Allies: The Politics of State Capacity to Enforce Labor Regulations in Argentina
November 1, 2012

Matthew Amengual, MIT

Professor Mathew Amengual, of the Sloan School of Management at MIT (PhD, Political Science, MIT), presented his ongoing paper that proposes a theory to explain changes in state capacity that are built around trade-offs between investing in the bureaucracy. The theory was developed using a comparison of labor inspectorates in two Argentine provinces, Cordoba and Sante Fe, over a 25-year period, and a survey of inspectors from across Argentina. The analysis provided a more complete explanation for variation in state capacity and sheds light on why the passage of labor-friendly legislation in Latin America often has not been matched with enforcement.


SC Journal of International Law & Business Symposium: 
International Human Rights and the Rule of Law: The Impact on Global Business
September 20-21, 2012

Mr. Justice Sir Michael Burton, High Court of Justice of England and Wales

Keynote speaker, Mr. Justice Sir Michael Burton of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, delivered an address titled "The Rule of Law: A Help or Hindrance to International Business?" The address was modeled after the European Convention of Human Rights, as incorporated in the UK's Human Rights Act. The focus of the following day's symposium on the intersection of human rights, transnational business, and the rule of law engaged conversation among the bench and bar as well as legal and business academics. 

This symposium was co-sponsored by the Walker Institute, Rule of Law Collaborative, and School of Law.

New Horizons in Conflict System Analysis: Applications in the Middle East
October 28-30, 2011

The three-day NSF-funded conference brought together conflict scholars, primarily from Political Science, who applied a range of advanced, rigorous, analytic and data gathering techniques to address the single empirical domain of the contemporary Middle East conflict system. Analytic approaches from several other disciplines were also represented, including network analysis (Sociology), GIS [geographic information system] techniques (Geography), and identity-based analyses to social conflict (Geography and Linguistics). The focus on a single empirical domain (the Middle East conflict) more readily allowed for a head-to-head comparison of the various approaches to conflict analysis.

War by Another Means: Perspectives on Insurgencies
Octover 13-15, 2011

The USC Institute for Southern Studies in collaboration with the Walker Institute presented the public conference "War By Another Means: Perspectives on Insurgencies" at the Solomon Center in Fort Jackson. The Keynote Address included a speaker and a round table discussion examining the Afghanistan and Iraq counterinsurgencies. The conference featured respected scholars who explored the characteristics of insurgencies and discussed why they are the preferred form of warfare in the 21st Century. 

View a news article on this event here.

Rebuilding Sierra Leone: Changing Institutions and Culture
April 1, 2011

Conference Agenda

Conference Speakers

Drawing leaders from a variety of academic disciplines, all of whom have on-the-ground experience in Sierra Leone, the conference presented a comprehensive look at the issues facing post-war Sierra Leone and some of the opportunities that exist to address those issues. 

This event was the first interdisciplinary academic conference in the United States to focus solely on the unique challenges of redeveloping Sierra Leone, a country located in West Africa with important ties to the Gullah community in South Carolina.