San Salvador, El Salvador

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Symposium Summary

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.

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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