REGION: Global
The joint UNESCO-UNODC publication, “Strengthening the Rule of Law through Education: A Guide for Policymakers,” was developed by both UNESCO’s Education Sector and UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, in partnership with the Global Education 2030 Agenda. The guide seeks to assist policymakers and educational professionals in developing policies and programs that promote the rule of law through education, as well as to fill the knowledge gap between the education and international development sectors. In so doing, the guide attempts to leverage its “transformational power” to confront challenges to the rule of law.
Rule of law and education

Informed by the principles of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4 and 16, this guide marries the principles of rule of law, a culture of lawfulness, and global citizenship education, which often overlap, reinforce, or parallel one another.

What is rule of law? The report utilizes the 2004 United Nations Security Council Secretary General’s Report definition of rule of law.

What is a culture of lawfulness? As defined by the guide, a culture of lawfulness considers the social conditions that allow for the rule of law to be practiced and respected within a society.

Though complex, it is necessary to understand the concepts of “rule of law” and a “culture of lawfulness” so that people not only understand and respect just laws, but also to reinforce trust in the law and justice system. This guide, therefore, provides tools to strengthen the resilience of educational communities when facing violence, crime, and corruption.

Educational methods to promote rule of law

The report maintains that practitioners can produce and engage with curricula that support the rule of law and a culture of lawfulness by providing learners with key knowledge, values, and attitudes related to rule of law and a culture of lawfulness; ensuring that learning considers the dilemmas and real challenges young people face; encouraging positive behaviors; and supporting learners to move from “learning about” the rule of law to “learning to act” by committing to values and responsibilities based on human rights, as well as feeling empowered to ward off threats to the rule of law. The report notes that, to that end, educators should model the rule of law in and outside of school learning environments.

Case studies

Peppered throughout the policy guide are examples of curricula targeting a diverse group of learners. These programs apply the theoretical and practical application of rule and law and a culture of lawfulness to provide holistic and inclusive school practices and policies. In so doing, educators have been able to create an “enabling environment that support[s] the acquisition” of respect and belonging, crucial to experiencing rule of law.

The KiVa Programme, developed at the University of Turku in Finland, targets students between the ages of 7-15 to consider the ways in which bystanders can play a role in reducing bullying. Through class lessons, the program teaches children to recognize what is, and is not, bullying and how to respond when they see it, allowing them to identify and enact behaviors that reduce bullying. When bystanders intervene, as students learned to do in this program in a safe way, the bullying tends to stop.

Empowering Children and Youth as Peace Builders (ECaP) is a project designed by World Vision, piloted in South and East Africa, that targets young people from 12-18 to be informed, resourceful, and self-reliant to promote a peaceful world. The program is based on five practices to promote peace: art, music, dance, drama, and storytelling. Moreover, the program has a secondary objective, which is to prevent radicalization and attend to the healing processes for young people who have witnessed and/or have been traumatized by violence. It is designed for both formal and non-formal environments.

The Gang, Resistance, Education, and Training Program (G.R.E.A.T.) is an American school-based curriculum that teaches young people the skills needed to resist the pressures of joining a gang. In so doing, the program targets delinquency and promotes a positive relationship with law enforcement. The curriculum is led by law enforcement personnel and is focused on teaching competencies such as violence prevention, conflict-resolution techniques, and decision-making and problem-solving skills. Young people who have participated in G.R.E.A.T. have an increased positive attitude towards police and an improved sense of collective efficacy that is associated with lower crime rates, reduced anger, and lower gang membership rates.

Understanding corruption with iTeen Camp is a thematic interactive website designed for elementary and middle school students, which was launched in Hong Kong in 2010. The camp promotes positive values among children and teenagers and introduces them to and broadens their legal knowledge. It includes games and comics to both entertain and educate students by unveiling the investigation process of past major cases in Hong Kong’s historical fight against corruption.

Moving forward

In closing, the guide suggests that we train educators and staff to be aware of, and to change, explicit and implicit biases in policies, programming, curriculum, pedagogy, and practices that do not model the rule of law and can even run counter to developing a culture of lawfulness. This can be done by taking a holistic and inclusive approach by engaging teachers, parents, community members, cultural leaders, government institutions, businesses, and civil society organizations to ensure learning takes place in and out of schools.

NOTE: This summary is produced by the Rule of Law Collaborative, not by the original author(s).

Strengthening the Rule of Law through Education: A Guide for Policymakers

Highlighted Publications

Image Source: ICITAP

ICITAP Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2018-2022

Middle East and North Africa
Image Source: Ayman al-Sahili/Reuters

Managing the Secure Release of Sensitive Detainees in Libya

Sub-Saharan Africa
Image Source: United States Institute of Peace

Conflict Prevention in Kenya: Combating Corruption through Nonviolent Action

Western Hemisphere

Exploring the Local Organizational Response to Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia