Mansfield Legal Reform Initiative

International Advanced Lectures on Modern Investigation and Evidence Collection group photo in china

"For the United Nations, the rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency."

Report of the Secretary-General on the

Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in
Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies

The mission of the Mansfield Center’s Legal Reform Initiative (LRI) is to promote the Rule of Law through facilitating cross-cultural learning about ongoing legal reforms throughout Asia.  The LRI will encourage dialogue on these issues by:

  • acting as a clearinghouse of information for legal professionals involved in justice reform throughout Asia and the United States
  • conducting multi-national classroom sessions through technology
  • encouraging the exchange of academics, legal professionals, and lay people involved in legal reform
  • sponsoring conferences on related justice issues
  • developing relevant scholarship

James Park Taylor discussing Rule of Law with Chinese police officersAsian countries, transitional, developing, or developed, are engaged in legal reform, designing and implementing new components and processes to improve their civil and criminal justice systems.  A number of tools have been developed to try and objectively measure compliance with legal reform objectives, including the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and their Global Corruption Index, the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, and the recently released United Nations’ Rule of Law Indicators for countries in transition.  Another critical aspect of the functioning of any government has also become how it responds to global terrorism, and the United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee now tracks how nations comply with the sixteen international conventions related to terrorism.

The LRI has prepared summary reports for ten Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Vietnam, the Philippines, and India describing briefly their legal systems and some of the legal reform challenges they face.  The reports include data on how each country has progressed using several of the described indicators and by reporting on each country’s compliance with the United Nations Conventions relating to terrorism. 

We look forward to meeting new friends and colleagues, and are thankful for the opportunity to be of service.

James Park Taylor

Director, Mansfield Legal Reform Initiative

Thanks to recent UM School of Law graduate Katherine Riker for her efforts in helping to create the Series on Asia Legal Systems, and to UM students Rob Osterman and Chase Maxwell for their assistance in designing and creating this website.