International Development Law Organization

Thirty years of fighting for the rule of law

Thirty years ago on February 5, 1988, the rule of law made it to multilateralism as eight governments took the momentous step to establish IDLO (or IDLI, as it was then known) as an intergovernmental organization.

“Recognizing the importance of law in the development process and the need for training lawyers for development”, the governments of France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and the United States of America on that date signed the Establishment Agreement of IDLO.

The International Development Law Institute (IDLI) had been established in 1983 as a Dutch foundation focused on training developing country lawyers to improve their ability to negotiate agreements. Michael Hager, one of IDLO’s founders and its first director said: “The impact of training has been direct and concrete: better agreements, fairer deals and an improved legal framework for domestic and international business. The political and economic transitions in many parts of the world, including Central and Eastern Europe, combined with the improved performance of our alumni, have thrust IDLI’s message to the forefront of the development scene.”

As inequality continues to grow, when more than 135 million people across the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection, and the 2018 WJP Rule of Law Index sees the rule of law scores of the majority of countries worldwide decline in the areas of human rights, checks on government powers, and civil and criminal justice: IDLO’s work is needed more than ever.

Three decades later, IDLO has broadened its mission to enable governments, empower people and strengthen institutions to realize justice, peace and sustainable development. It contributes to creating stable and inclusive societies where every person can live free from fear and want, in dignity and under the rule of law.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the United Nations Summit in September 2015, has brought a sea of change in international development policy by incorporating access to justice and the rule of law as critical components of sustainable development. IDLO remains committed to unlocking the full potential of Sustainable Development Goal 16 to catalyze social transformation so that everyone can claim and exercise their rights as global citizens.

“Strengthening the rule of law is an essential ingredient to enhance justice, peace and economic and social progress.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Fighting for a world where everyone is equal, lives under the rule of law and enjoys access to justice is everyone’s business. And the time to do so is now. Each and every one of us can champion justice.

At IDLO we are proud of the contributions that all of our colleagues, partners and donors have made towards this. IDLO will use the occasion of its 30th anniversary to celebrate the Champions of Justice: those activists, barefoot lawyers, paralegals, judges, lawyers and development workers, amongst others, who work for a “just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world” where no one is left behind.

Use and follow #ChampionsofJustice to show your support and to encourage, engage and empower those doing this critical work.