Acting as a road map, the toolkit will help countries and organisations introduce an administrative law system. Instead of imposing one specific system, it provides several possibilities, using best practices from different countries.
Several projects from the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia, are aimed at modernizing administrative law processes. The lessons learned and best practices are now being turned into a toolkit or road map that can be used to institute an administrative law system. Taking into account the particular cultural contexts, the toolkit will provide several possibilities for building administrative law systems.
When completed, the toolkit will present a unique and interlinked framework consisting of general and international principles, which together will provide minimum standards for administrative law, as well as a list of best practices. Applying the toolkit will provide insight into the relationship between administrative law and the rule of law in the country concerned. In addition, it will provide a working method for introducing administrative law, which can be used by countries and organizations.
Top down versus bottom up
One of the difficulties encountered in the development of the toolkit is the question of whether to take a top down or a bottom up approach. The national level projects are top down, due to the fact that they deal with the implementation of legislation. Therefore, the lessons learned and best practices have been analyzed top down as well. At the same time, the toolkit is envisaged to take into account a bottom up approach involving citizens. For example, Estonia has demonstrated that providing information to the citizens encourages their involvement. Incorporating the bottom up aspects is the next hurdle for the project.
The toolkit will facilitate the establishment of administrative law regimes in places that lack such a system, thereby bringing more comprenhensive justice to the people of the world.
1. Can you briefly describe the innovation, the problem it tries to solve and why is it necessary?
We are evaluating the projects we have done in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia regarding the introduction of modernized administrative law and processing the lessons learned and best practices into a toolkit; a roadmap that can be used to help organizations and countries to introduce an administrative law system.
As rights and obligations can be formalized in different ways, (they can be framed by administrative law, but also by civil law) we take into account the particular cultural context. We want to show several possibilities, using best practices of different systems, instead of imposing one specific administrative law system such as the Dutch or German system. The outcome of the roadmap provides insight and possible steps to take rather than one specific solution. Furthermore the toolkit contains minimum standards of administrative law that are linked to international standards (EVRM), think of the rule of law concept and principles like impartiality, transparency and balance of interests. As implementation of these principles is a big challenge, we need to focus on small steps.
To further develop the toolkit we will involve countries where CILC has been working so far and need to involve potential future users as well (think of African countries). The toolkit will be linked to the other 3 toolkits CILC is working on. The topics of toolkit 2 and 3 are court administration and training of legal professionals. Part of toolkit 4 is a research on ‘demand control’ in the context of rule of law.
It is an online interactive instrument that assists in the process of implementing an administrative law system. It advises on the approach of implementing administrative law in a rule of law system. The toolkit is based on 16 years of broad experience in introducing and implementing administrative law in developing countries and countries in transition. This information is analyzed, classified and made searchable and accessible for transmission. The toolkit provides insight on best practices and lessons learnt. The information in the toolkit is made universally applicable and responsive to local needs and interconnected. The innovative character of the toolkit is being guarded by facilitating the exchange between customers that use the toolkit on their experiences, successes and failures. The online platform of the toolkit creates an environment for interaction between experts, users of the toolkit, beneficiaries of the toolkit and academics. This will contribute to the accurateness of the toolkit.
In general the toolkit tries to contribute to strengthening the Rule of Law in countries with an underdeveloped state of rule of law, to solve imbalances in rights and duties between government and citizens and to help countries in need of democracy (reforms).
More specifically, the toolkit tries to solve the problem when there is a need for an administrative law system but the persons actually involved do not know how to deal with it nor how to give voice to administrative law or how to implement administrative law. The problem is the lack of familiarity with administrative law systems, not knowing where to start, not being familiar with designing administrative law; the lack of concrete knowledge how to create an administrative law system with respect to the local situation.
Dutch and international experts involved in international administrative law implementation do have expertise on administrative law, but not always have experience on implementation of administrative law in international context. Or they do have experience in implementing administrative law in some foreign countries but do not specifically know how to proceed in a different cultural situation and thus try to invent the wheel each time again.
Local experts and other key persons involved do have knowledge about the local rule of law system but often do not have knowledge about international standards of administrative law and are not familair with the possible options and procedures, for example in case they want to comply with international standards. Or they do not know what is realistic and useful in the specific situation the country is into.
The toolkit gives insight about and practical assistance for the above mentioned problems. A minimum state of administrative law is internationally seen as a condition for any rule of law. Experts involved in administrative law design expressed the need for general guidelines on implementing administrative law in local rule of law systems, to avoid reinventing the wheel and instead to learn from experience of others.
Legal professionals working on introducing or improving administrative law systems (experts and others, see target group) expressed a need for a manual designing a working method, based on broad experiences and existing of a pooling of expertise and a distillation of best practices.
The target group is the people practically designing or implementing administrative law in a rule of law system. In general these people will be local and international experts, charged with the designation or implementation of an administrative law system (key experts, actors of change, members of working group, civil servants of ministries, project managers). These people are often part of ministries, NGOs and other organizations involved in the field of rule of law.
2. What makes your innovation unique?
A similar roadmap on implementing administrative law that is responsive to local needs does not yet exist. The toolkit will present a unique framework existing of general principles, lessons learned, best practices and international standards all interlinked together. It is unique because this working method is based on 16 years of international experience introducing and implementing administrative law systems. The toolkit delivers a roadmap that will guide the professional through the decision making process required to implement administrative law in your rule of law system, converted into a step-by-step approach. Furthermore it is unique because of its multidisciplinary approach and peer-to-peer function.
3. What triggered the development of the innovation?
International, Dutch, local experts and others involved in administrative law projects, aware of the fact that there exists a lot of information and experience in this field, brought up the lack of access to this experience and information. These experts and others expressed a need for a manual on administrative law implementation because much time is wasted rethinking and redoing the same processes and steps in each different administrative law project. They expect a greater quantity outcomes of such projects if the above mentioned information and experience would be accessible in a practical way to guide administrative law implementation processes. That together with CILC’s expertise in this field triggered the development of a toolkit on administrative law.
4. Which persons and organisations were involved in the development and what role did they play?
- Director, role: facilitating the think tank within CILC about the toolkit, stimulating a bottom-up approach in the toolkit, communicating on the development of the toolkit outside CILC;
- Rosalie Brasz, project manager: responsible for the content and functionalities of the toolkit as well as responsible for the process and management of the development of the toolkit;
- Other project managers at CILC experienced in administrative law-projects in the past; giving input and direction to the toolkit.
- Dutch experts involved in previous Administrative Law projects, among others: Prof. M Scheltema, Mr. D. Allewijn, Prof. B. Vis and Prof. M. v Emmerick.
- Organisations with expertise in a specific field of Administrative Law, for example the ‘Nationale Ombudsman’.
- Local experts who implemented the previous projects, among others: Georgian Young Lawyers Association.
5. What kind of resistance have you encountered and how have you overcome it?
We have met resistance on how this toolkit would give voice to the citizen and how it could work from the bottom-up. The country-projects are top-down as they deal with the implementation of legislation. The lessons learned and best practices have therefore been analyzed top-down as well. Working with a bottom-up approach has been difficult in the projects so far. For example, in the Georgian project some organizations that represented citizens were invited to get involved in the project, but they got little control in the end as legislation remains a top-down working process. A bottom-up approach is often facilitated in the awareness campaigns, which are very important but these take place once the law has already been adopted.
We want the toolkit to take into account a bottom-up approach and involve the citizens. This was a challenge in the development of the toolkit. Citizens are not a target group of the toolkit, as the toolkit is developed for legal professionals by legal professionals (peer-to-peer). On the otherhand, citizens are the beneficiaries of the toolkit as they benefit from an introduced or improved administrative law system. It is important to be aware of the consequences for citizens when implementing administrative law. The toolkit will provide advice on how to involve citizens in this process and will appoint the consequences for citizens of specific choices in administrative law legislation. For example an administrative law system needs to include a review mechanism that takes into account the contrasting interests of citizens and government. The toolkit will provide different choices to make in this context, for instance by creating a mediation mechanism or creating an ‘Ombudsman’. It is therefore important to learn from experiences in other countries. For example in the Netherlands some new efforts have been made to create special web based complaint procedures for citizens. On the other hand, ‘interactive policy making’ whereby citizens as stakeholders are involved in the process of policy making is one step too far for most countries.
6. How did you make the goals realistic and attainable, and at what time will which quick wins be available?
It is important to stay focused on the function, goal and target group of the toolkit. We tried to stay close to our strongest points, i.e. broad useful experience over 16 years in administrative law reforms, and at the same time focused on a innovative format to present and use the toolkit. By involving experts with great experience in administrative law reforms and consulting external experts on format, innovations development and business consultancy at the same time, goals became realistic and attainable. We expect the toolkit in its first rendering will be available this summer 2011.
Some quick wins, as lessons learnt and best practices, distilled from the projects of the past 16 years are already available. We did not yet publish them, because we first want to develop the toolkit as such.
7. Will the innovation have an effect on other organisations in the chain and if that is the case, how will it affect them?
Yes, applying the toolkit will provide insight into the status quo of and relation between administrative law and rule of law in the country concerned. Furthermore the toolkit will provide a methodology for introducing administrative law that other organizations can benefit from.
8. How was the development funded and what were reasons for the financing organisation?
As one of the subprojects of the Innovative Rule of Law Initiative (IRI) the toolkit is funded by the two grantors of IRI: the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the municipality of The Hague and CILC’s own contribution. Reasons for financing are further development of The Hague as a centre of excellence where knowledge and innovative products and services are being developed in order to strengthen the rule of law. The toolkit is one of these innovative products and services.
9. Can you name 3 to 5 characteristics of the innovation that are most essential to make it work?
- Being responsive to local needs, applicable in different local contexts by providing several choices, so you know what options you have;
- Its universal character;
- The step-by-step approach;
- The toolkit is interactive and stays in development: experiences of experts and beneficiaries will feed into the toolkit;
- Form and functionalities that contribute to a multidisciplinary approach.
10. How do you measure whether it is a successful innovation?
It is successful when organizations, counterparts, international and local experts and CILC project managers use the toolkit in future rule of law projects. We will evaluate the use of the toolkit by legal professionals, such as experts. These evaluations can be held online at the platform, by interviewing legal professionals in projects that use the toolkit and by interviewing other organizations that are working in the same field. Furthermore it proved to be successful when we receive updates, comments, new insights based on applications of the toolkit. We need to keep track on these organizations and the way they implement the principles from the toolkit. The use of online applications can be measured as well as the references made in articles etc. We can also measure courses and workshops that take place on the implementation of the toolkit.
11. How many people or organisations benefit from this innovation now?
No one benefits from this innovation yet as we are still in the phase of developing the toolkit. When the toolkit is finished it will be used by countries and organizations that want to introduce or change administrative law. Governments, partner organizations, donors, project managers will be involved. As it will be used in future projects we cannot mention names yet. In each future project with CILC’s involvement the toolkit will be used by at least by 1 project manager, a donor, a counterpart existing of a working group of approximately 5-10 people and other international or local experts involved. Depending on the quantity of future administrative law projects this number might increase, independently of CILC’s involvement in the projects.
12. How many people or organisations could potentially benefit from it now or in the future? (scaling-up)
We can reach more people by:
- publishing the toolkit online (assuming there is a demand for the website);
- organizing courses and workshops on how to use the toolkit;
- sharing successes.
We cannot mention names or numbers yet.
13. Can you quantify the financial benefits? (Cost savings, additional income or otherwise)
The toolkit provides an efficient way of working which will lead to cost savings for counterparts, beneficiary countries, donors and NGO’s. It will contribute to efficient expense of resources. The toolkit provides additional incomes for organizations and international or local experts working with the toolkit, and beneficiary countries who will easier comply with international standards with the help of the toolkit. Besides, the toolkit can also be used for acquisition. More projects can be attracted and courses and workshops can be organized.
14. Is the innovation financially viable and sustainable and if yes, how?
At this moment we have not yet developed a business model, but the idea is to generate money through organizing courses and workshops, sponsors and consultancy. It is expected that only a limited amount of money is required to keep the toolkit up-to-date, as updating the toolkit can be part of future country-projects in the field of administrative law.
15. Can or will the innovation be used internationally and how do you overcome cultural differences?
Yes, it will be used internationally. The toolkit is especially developed for international, local, Dutch experts and other professionals working on administrative law reforms in developing countries or countries in transition.
Cultural difference will be overcome by putting the focus on the demand side and leaving the choices up to the beneficiary country. The toolkit as such will not provide one answer to incorporate into national systems; instead it provides an approach and insights into the available choices to make regarding the implementation of an administrative law system. By doing such the toolkit is responsive to local needs and cultural differences.
Attention will be paid to the institutional and cultural differences of the countries the experience and information is based upon and the future countries the information and advice is provide for.
16. What lessons did you learn along the way that could be useful to others?
- Linking the needs and demands is important;
- You need to connect to the local partner;
- We have to set up a pilot project to test the toolkit.