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The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has worked to promote justice, economic opportunity and human dignity for more than 25 years in more than 100 countries around the world. Working with local partners, ABA ROLI strengthens legal institutions, supports legal professionals, fosters respect for human rights, and informs the public of their rights and responsibilities.  These efforts contribute to a more hospitable environment for the rule of law in our host countries and, ultimately, worldwide.


Protecting Syrian refugees through rights awareness

As of December 2016, ABA ROLI has trained over 200 lawyers to provide legal information to Syrian refugees to better enable them to pursue their rights under Turkish law.  Syrians represent more than 90% of the refugees in Turkey.

Through legal awareness sessions, a robust media campaign and an innovative SMS helpline, ABA ROLI’s program in Turkey has provided over 200,000 Syrians with legal information and awareness of their rights under Turkish rights and regulations.


Empowering local leaders to promote transitional justice and peacebuilding in their communities

ABA ROLI is working in communities and with victims groups across northern Mali, to bring their voices into the formal transitional justice process and promote peace and reconciliation within their communities. In remote northern Mali, where state institutions are weak or nonexistent, community, religious, and traditional leaders play a key role in promoting peace and understanding in their communities.

ABA ROLI provided training to traditional, community, and religious leaders in northern Mali on transitional justice and alternative dispute resolution.  This was the first time the leaders had received training on these topics in their local languages.

“This workshop allowed us to understand our role as traditional leaders in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.” – Songhai chief
“I am grateful to add an array of conflict resolution mechanisms that will better help me carry out my functions.” – Kounta chief

Promoting the civil and political rights of marginalized groups in Mauritania

Marginalized groups, particularly slaves, continue to face discrimination and social exclusion in Mauritania. Without identity documents and access to legal assistance, these groups struggle to exercise their most fundamental rights as citizens, such as voting and accessing justice.

Since 2015, ABA ROLI has been working with civil society in Mauritania to promote the civic and political rights of marginalized groups through legal assistance and accompaniment to civil registry offices. To date, a total of 35 individuals have received identity documents, and 52 received legal assistance in Mauritania.

“Individuals without proper legal identity are more likely to experience poverty and the consequence is that their own children cannot access vital documents…not only do we provide legal assistance…we give them back hope.” – ABA ROLI’s community-based paralegal Cheikh


Promoting accountability in the local justice system for the citizens of Mexico

In Mexico, ROLI has tackled the issue of mistrust between local law enforcement and the public.  Working with local partners, ROLI offers all-access tours to court houses and state representatives’ offices to explain the justice system. An open forum discussion with local law enforcement concludes the tour.  Participants are encouraged to ask any questions they wish, and law enforcement officials discuss citizens’ rights and responsibilities.

One tour participant called it “an extremely enriching experience…not simply showing you the walls but how these institutions really work.” ROLI also conducts training sessions for civil society organizations on freedom of information laws and pending amendments. ROLI hopes the combined efforts will to encourage local law enforcement and leaders to improve accountability and transparency in the justice system.


Explore our other initiatives here