25 September 2019 - Arming the world's future policymakers, legislators and justice warriors in all fields with the right tools to make the world a better place is one of the necessities of a comprehensive education today. At the same time, keeping students engaged and igniting in them a passion for issues which will affect their lives is a challenge for which modern and innovative solutions are always needed.
The Education for Justice (E4J) initiative is a firm believer in the old adage that teamwork with skilled partners always leads to better results - especially when the subject matter touches everyone around the world. And with UNODC's own renowned expertise in issues of crime, justice and rule of law, it was only natural that E4J and the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration should partner with hundreds of specialists to deliver superior educational resources, complementing its promotion of a culture of lawfulness.
One of the most notable results of these wide-ranging partnerships is a unique E4J educational tool, the University Modules Series: in a set of nine internationally peer-reviewed modules, making up over 100 tertiary level modules on the most topical subjects, numbering nearly 4,000 pages, E4J has put a novel way of teaching various aspects of rule of law at the disposal of lecturers around the world.
Through expert group meetings, multiple peer reviews and in-depth consultations over the last few years, more than 600 academics and experts from 114 countries have contributed to making the E4J University Modules Series an outstanding contribution to tertiary education on some of the most pressing global matters. These highly relevant, adaptable and user-friendly educator resources include the essential subjects of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Organized Crime, Counter-Terrorism, Anti-Corruption, Cybercrime, Trafficking in Persons, Smuggling of Migrants, Wildlife, Fisheries and Forest Crime, Firearms, and Integrity and Ethics.
Each of these substantive series is printable and designed to be easily integrated into university courses, whether as an entire course or with elements thereof through different chapters. They are offered in English, with further official United Nations languages (and other non-official languages as the need arises) currently in the works to cater to regional needs. Moreover, they come with additional accompanying tools such as short movies, online courses, PowerPoint presentations and hundreds of interactive exercises to assist lecturers in making the learning experience even more engaging for their students.
While this is an unparalleled effort to provide high quality, topical educational resources which are pertinent to students around the world as they are about to embark on their respective professional trajectories, E4J's dedication to this generation doesn't stop at the modules. Indeed, its mission to foster global citizens with a solid moral compass - from the primary to the tertiary level - also entails nurturing the right conditions to design and deliver the best and most appropriate educational resources, and to connect educators around to world through tailored activities.
To further facilitate and strengthen these connections within academia, E4J is in the process of setting up an interactive networking platform, which all education specialists are welcome to join (by signing up online) and to use as a forum for communication, discussion and the exchange of information on all educational aspects of lawfulness.
In addition to the regular academic conferences it holds on topics relating to the rule of law (such as the important upcoming 'Inspire Change Together' Conference to be held at UNODC headquarters this October) and to the numerous academic events in which it participates or co-hosts, E4J maintains an ongoing information campaign in leading academic journals. It also issues calls for papers and announces paper competitions for young researchers on its website, inviting the authors of winning submissions to present their findings at various conferences. E4J has also launched a grants programme aimed at higher education institutions, further enabling research and output in the topics of rule of law.
Following the success of various initiatives held in cooperation with individual educational stakeholders, E4J is also building a network of E4J Champions around the world, champions in various educational fields who continue to actively support E4J's efforts to increase the teaching of rule of law subjects - both quantitatively and qualitatively.
All these E4J endeavours have an important common denominator: the valued ongoing partnerships - and those in the process of being cemented - with leading academic institutions, networks and experts on a global scale. These include partners which have an international vocation (such as the UNESCO Chairs Programme, the International Association of Universities, the Academic Council on the United Nations System), and partners which have a regional focus (such as the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, to mention but a few). They also include esteemed partners in the field of criminal justice, such as the International Society of Criminology (and its European and American counterparts).
There is no doubt that the foundations of a just society rest on the rule of law, where no one is above the law. It is by teaching its varied aspects and real-life implications to a generation aspiring to change the world, and by continuing to develop the tools which best fit their circumstances and their realities, that we best contribute to their future. As numerous E4J educational partners prepare to gather for three days of stimulating discussions on education and justice, on inspiring change together, and on jointly contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which we all aspire - especially SDG4 on Quality Education, SDG16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and of course SDG17 on Partnerships for the Goals - a poignant observation by Malcom X reminds us indeed that "education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."