30 March 2021 – The global pandemic has greatly affected education around the world, posing new challenges and exposing disparities even further. For Education for Justice (E4J), this was a year of redoubling efforts to ensure consistency in support to academics and educators on teaching rule of law and related topics. These creative and systematic efforts, building up on an already diverse portfolio of educational material and forming bridges between different stakeholders to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have earned E4J the Secretary General’s 2020 Innovation Award.
E4J’s set of university modules is now known around the academic world, and it is gaining new users every day. Covering some of the most pressing and important rule of law issues as well as topics related to SDG 16, the modules have been designed in close collaboration with – and have been peer-reviewed by – hundreds of academics from dozens of countries to support higher education institutions around the world in becoming hubs for teaching on these important topics.
E4J is also fostering a network of champions to promote the teaching of these topics at higher education institutions everywhere. Different forms of cooperation between universities and E4J have been established – some focusing on making the existing university modules available in different languages through pro bono translation of the various modules by these universities; others, by looking at promoting and using these modules as a new and innovative way to teach and promote the rule of law. With its regular organization of joint conferences and workshops, even virtually during the pandemic, E4J has continued to foster the links between academia and international organizations, in their joint pursuit of education on UNODC topics. And to make research more accessible, E4J produces ‘Voices of Academia’, a global podcast series, and issues various joint publications.
More recently, to acknowledge the important role of academia in fostering sustainable development and in promoting the rule of law goals that UNODC works to achieve, E4J has begun to award grants, in order to actively support higher education institutions that have expressed a desire to become hubs for rule of law and SDG 16 teaching. Simultaneously, E4J is also now actively supporting young scholars who are conducting research relating to rule of law topics. With these grants, E4J continues to build bridges between international organizations and academia, and contributes – in essence and in deed – to the education of a new generation of judges, law enforcement officers, and policymakers, among others planning to engage in rule of law-related careers.
The first set of grants has already been awarded to four universities, each planning to give students a much more detailed induction on rule of law topics than would have been possible without the grant. “Initiatives such as these enable academics to reach wider audiences and have an impact on public policy,” explained Dr. Konstantinos Tsimonis, School of Global Affairs, King's College London. “By creating bridges between academia, the policy community and the general public, initiatives such as the E4J have been instrumental in promoting the rule of law and the Sustainable Development Goals.”
One of the most appreciated factors in E4J’s educational approach, and in the richness of the material it provides to institutions around the world, is the focus on the concept of crime prevention, and on how it is possible to better promote rule of law. This was an important issue for Professor Hennie van As, of Nelson Mandela University, and a grant winner. “The SDGs succeeded in providing additional focus to universities, not only their research activities, but also in their outreach programmes, and teaching and learning. Developing countries have for far too long focused on addressing crime instead of preventing it. The E4J initiative, with its strong focus on strengthening the rule of law, and especially ethics, and professionalism in crime prevention, does much to re-align those foci. The materials that were developed as part of E4J are valuable resources that have already been included in the formal curriculum of a qualification at the Nelson Mandela University and as such, stand to benefit future cohorts.”
The E4J grants programme for higher education institutions and the E4 grants programme for young scholars are good examples of the ways UNODC continues to engage with partners around the world, to promote crime prevention and to foster global citizens with a solid moral and ethical compass.
E4J Grants Programmes