Rule of Law

Our Aim - Strengthening the Rule of Law

Strengthening the rule of law is a key element of post-conflict stabilization and peacebuilding, as the UN Secretary-General emphazised in his 2004 report on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies. Many international peace operations meanwhile include a rule of law component mandated to assist national actors in (re-)establishing and/or strengthening their local legal and judicial systems.

In order to carry out such mandates, international personnel must possess highly specialized technical knowledge and excellent diplomatic skills to be able to work in challenging contexts and promote international norms and standards effectively and sustainably.

Focus Area 1 -Rule of Law Training Forum

UN Judicial Affairs Officer Training

Judicial Affairs Officers working for the UN assist post-conflict societies in re-building and strengthening their justice systems. To fulfil their duties and to make a difference on the ground JAOs need to have at their disposal specialized technical knowledge, excellent diplomatic skills and the capacity to work in highly challenging environments. ZIF, together with the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service (CLJAS) of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and supported by local rule of law experts organizes two JAO training courses per year in the geographic proximity of UN peace operations with a Justice component. For these courses, ZIF makes use of a comprehensive curriculum for JAOs, which CLJAS developed with the support of the Canadian Government. These training courses are the only specialized ones held – both in English and in French – for personnel working in Justice components of UN peace operations.


In addition to UN JAOs, UN agencies, local partner institutions and regional organizations such as the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) have the opportunity to nominate participants, too. The broad range of participants and variety in technical expertise present at the JAO training courses makes them a unique forum for practice oriented discussions and networking among rule of law experts.


The training courses are conducted in cooperation with national and regional partner including civil society organizations and governmental institutions in North Africa, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.


Rule of Law Specialization Course

ZIF offers a Specialization Course on Strengthening the Rule of Law in the context of peace operations which is targeted at a larger audience. The course is conducted in co-operation with the Swedish Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) and takes place once per year in Berlin or Stockholm. The 6-day training course is designed mainly for personnel serving in peace operations in capacities relevant to strengthening the rule of law, and for persons who will be deployed to peace operations in the near future to work on rule of law-related issues.

The course covers thematic areas and methods relevant to rule of law-work based on practical experiences and case studies, and draws on experiences from experts working for the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The course contents include internationally acknowledged principles such as the separation of powers, the protection of fundamental rights, the legality of public administration and the independence of the judiciary (inter alia justice and corrections systems), as well as security sector reform. By applying conflict-sensitive analytical methods participants map the complexities of post-conflict situations and design interventions which are discussed in the course.


Focus Area 2 - International Dialogue Forum on Rule of Law

The UN, EU and OSCE operate in increasingly complex mission environments and face numerous challenges including when implementing their rule of law mandates. Especially the UN has seen important efforts aimed at enhancing system-wide coherence in its approach to rule of law assistance. In September 2012, the UN Secretary-General appointed DPKO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the Global Focal Point for Police, Justice and Corrections Areas in the Rule of Law in Post-conflict and other Crisis Situations (GFP). To foster a peer debate among international rule of law assistance providers on effective strategies and implementation methods, ZIF organizes annual Trilateral Dialogue workshops with participants from headquarters and field operations of UN, EU and OSCE.


In the past, together with DPKO and the Folke Bernadotte Academy, ZIF co-hosted two annual meetings of heads of justice and corrections components of UN peace operations. ZIF has also organized conferences and workshops on the rule of law, accountability, anti-corruption and transitional justice in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to support the regional transition processes. To get more information, please download the conference reports.