PR for People Monthly MAY 2017 - Page 10

go. As a result, Bulgaria had a more difficult time implementing democratic reforms.

PR4P: What is the mission of the U.S.A.I.D and the United Nations, or rather why are they engaged in international law reform?

Pat Noonan: U.S.A.I.D and the United Nations have different perspectives. Both entities are dedicated to improving civil liberties through education, health, agriculture, etc., and maintain programs to achieve these goals. Funding for U.S.A.I.D/Democracy and Governance projects is to a large extent driven by commerce—to lay the legal groundwork that will ensure that contracts can be enforced and international business can be conducted. This goal has an underlying presumption that vibrant commercial interdependence will reduce the potential for armed conflict. The United Nations is primarily the broker of treaties, human rights, and aspires to keep the peace.

PR4P: How does international law reform help the citizens of these newly formed nations to become more autonomous and self-reliant?

Pat Noonan: Law reform can provide the space for civic engagement. The constitution and laws define the rights and responsibilities of both the government and citizens, and in the best case provide reliable guideposts and a certain amount of safety.

Ron Schiffman: Often law reform includes the computerization of judicial systems. In Rwanda, a web portal was created that could be accessed by citizens to see what the legislature was doing, what bills were in process toward becoming law and the influence of lobbyists. Also citizens could look up cases. Case law was going to be the law of the land and transparency was part of this process. In any democracy, transparency is the foundation for fighting against government corruption.

PR4P: Can you share a few stories of the dangers and the obstacles in doing this type of work?

Pat Noonan: Typically, the countries in which I worked were torn by war or impoverished by the circumstances of their histories. For example, in Rwanda, there was a reasonable underlying fear of another genocide. The collective societal memory of the previous genocide was palpable. There was some thought that unlimited democracy could result in a plethora of diverse political parties based on ethnicity, precipitating another genocide; consequently, a limited democracy might be preferable. Democracy can be a messy business.

In the Middle East, there were times when spontaneous firefights erupted. A few times, I have had to hit the floor or immediately evacuate areas before dark or before border crossings closed.