Andrew Solomon is a Senior Rule of Law Advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in its Center of Excellence on Democracy, Rights, and Governance (DRG). Previously USAID’s first Transitional Justice Advisor, in his current role, Mr. Solomon contributes technical expertise and leadership in the design and evaluation of rule of law programming that serves to strengthen justice and security systems, increase access to justice, and promote and protect human rights around the world.
Interagency collaboration is vital to his role, and Mr. Solomon interacts frequently with different actors at USAID, the State Department (INL and DRL), and the Department of Justice (OPDAT). Similarly, he interacts with a number of international and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the OECD. These collaborations, he believes, are essential to successful assistance programs and effective use of available funding and resources.
Throughout his 20 year career, Mr. Solomon has served in an advisory capacity with a variety of international organizations and U.S. government agencies and has conducted field-work in developing, conflict, and post-conflict environments throughout Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Prior to joining USAID, Mr. Solomon was a Director in the Security and Justice Practice at BlueLaw International and served as senior technical advisor on rule of law and citizen security projects funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and USAID. He has also served as a Foreign Policy Fellow and Deputy Director of the Brookings Institution’s Project on Internal Displacement, where he formally supported the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internal Displacement.
In addition, Mr. Solomon has held senior positions related to the rule of law at the American Society of International Law (ASIL), American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI), Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR). He also has extensive experience in electoral administration and has worked for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) as a legal analyst and election observer in more than fifteen missions throughout Europe and Eurasia. He also sits on the Council of Experts for the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL) and is a past Co-chair of the Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law.
Mr. Solomon has been involved in international issues, rule of law, and human rights since before his professional career began. He states that his interest in international affairs was sparked during a “Peace and Friendship Tour” in the USSR in 1982, while he was in high school. Intrigued by subsequent reform efforts there, such as glasnost and perestroika, Mr. Solomon focused on Soviet and post-Soviet studies while earning his M.A. in International Affairs. In then pursuing the study of law, he focused on comparative legal traditions, international law, and developing the types of lawyering skills most relevant to strengthening justice systems in this region and around the world.
Mr. Solomon believes that considerable progress has been made in strengthening respect for the rule of law around the world over the past three decades but acknowledges it remains a work in progress in many countries. He recognizes, for instance, how engagement throughout the former Soviet Union has led to an increase in judicial independence and accountability, but now some once reformed institutions and actors have been co-opted by regimes and ultimately operate under the principle of “rule by law.” He believes that rule of law promotion should guard against backsliding and learn how to work in closing space, where governments seek to regulate civil society, limit public participation, and subvert citizen oversight in the justice and security sector.
In order for the U.S. Government to be most effective in working on rule of law issues, Mr. Solomon argues that recognition of the importance of political will matters immensely. He states that rule of law promotion ultimately entails dealing with fundamental power relationships, as well as other types of relationships within society. Understanding the political economy along with a country’s legal and judicial traditions is key to rule of law promotion. He further recognizes the challenges of moving beyond conceptual buy-in to why rule of law matters to advocating for funds, as well as coming to a consensus of what implementation looks like and who takes the lead among the many donors and actors in the field.
Mr. Solomon has been actively involved with JUSTRAC and sees the importance of interagency actors viewing themselves as part of a larger community of practice. He believes that in addition to the opportunities for engaging in and improving communication and coordination among various rule of law actors, JUSTRAC also provides an avenue for those actors to take off their interagency hats and work as members of a larger community of practitioners. Within such communities, Mr. Solomon asserts, individuals are exposed to issues and ideas that they may not otherwise experience in their day-to-day roles. Mr. Solomon expresses excitement in regard to the state of the field as an evolving profession and area of practice, and believes the field has taken considerable steps addressing its so-called problem of knowledge by establishing guiding principles, developing standards and norms, generating data, and undertaking more evidence-based approaches.