Last weekend I attended an address by the President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, to my law school in Washington DC. Regarding NITA’s international work, I posed the following question to him:
- NITA is a national organization that serves justice in adversarial systems by teaching advocacy skills.
- We have a small but impactful global involvement, limited by funding, where we teach advocacy skills to those who invite us in areas of the world where the justice system is in transformation. We choose by these criteria, believing that our work will count.
- Unlike the distribution of malaria drugs that were proven effective in a poverty-stricken society in Haiti, we are not “delivering” a “product” for consumption. Rather we can be said to be exporting a system – one that we believe in, but ours nevertheless.
- How would folks at the World Bank, and Dr. Kim with his experience in Haiti alongside Dr. Paul Farmer, suggest we think about our role, our instruction, and our boldness in supporting adversarial systems applied to non-western cultures?
Dr. Kim’s answer is piercing in its acknowledgement of widely diverse cultures, and inspiring in its recognition of the importance of our work. His points included these:
- Proving, as Dr. Farmer has, that something which “cannot be done” in fact can be done, is critical. (See Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder)
- The question remaining at the end of the day is how to use systems and governance in order to sustain such developments within a culture or nation.
- The governance is what must create and retain systems, intact.
- A huge part of development is going to happen in the private sector. That investment will not take root without people, governments, and systems that can be trusted.
- “So, I would say, thank you so much for doing that and thank you so much for going out and pursuing governance” systems that bring justice.
- No matter where we are we’ll see poor people who have smart phones and know how others live.
- This hot line of transparency, from people taking pictures and transparent communications, will force the governments toward increasing services for people, attending to human rights, and putting systems in place.
- Everyone has good laws; it is about implementation, and that is up to the government, a system, and a just system that people will believe in.
And that is why NITA works hard to do international work that is mission-driven, that helps nations to sustain their own justice systems, and that believes in the trustworthiness of due process gained adversarial justice systems.
I write because it is worth the moment to say this. Where do we go in the World, and Why we are there? Both have been answered when NITA goes overseas.
Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy