Julia welcomes Stephen Gerald Kent and Agizul Sumber from the International Development Law Organization in Mongolia, and Abdu Murabit, who has just finished a YLIP internship with them. An exciting episode about combatting gender based domestic violence in Mongolia and around the world.
The CBA Young Lawyers International Program, or YLIP, places upcoming young lawyers and law graduates from Canada at internships with overseas organizations working in the areas of law reform, human rights, and access to justice. The program has been funded by Global Affairs Canada as part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy.
Julia speaks to Stephen Gerald Kent and Agizul Sumber from IDLO Mongolia, and Abdu Murabit, who has just finished a YLIP internship with them, about their recent exposure visit to Ontario's Family Courts. Legal best practice sharing in the global effort against domestic violence.
Mongolia | IDLO - International Development Law Organization
Canadian Bar Association - Young Lawyers International Program (cba.org)
YLIP Goes IDLO Mongolia(1)
[Start of recorded material 00:00:00]
Julia: Welcome to The Every Lawyer. My name is Julia Tétrault‑Provencher.
Male: This is the every lawyer presented by the Canadian Bar Association.
Julia: Today’s episode is close to my heart as we are discussing YLIP. The CBA Young Lawyers International Program or YLIP places upcoming young lawyers and law graduates from Canada at internships with overseas organizations working in the area as lawyer for human rights and access to justice. The Program has been funded by Global Affairs Canada as part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy. YLIP interns contribute experience, expertise and skills to host partner organizations. The host partner offer legal interns practical experience helping them develop skills and perspective in justice [and of law 00:00:52]. Today we have the pleasure to be with Stephan Kent, the Country Manager for the International Development Law Organization in Mongolia and we will call it IDLO in this podcast.
We are also with IDLO’s communication expert in Mongolia Agi Sumber, and Abdu Murabit who is an YLIP intern who was invited to participate to the meetings which we will discuss more in this podcast. So first I’d like to know where is everybody based right now; where are you? Are you – Abdul you told you were in Calgary, Stephen and Agi where are you?
Stephen: Well we’re both based and working out of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia which is Mongolia’s capital city. Agi probably knows a bit more detail about Ulaanbaatar but it’s – Mongolia’s a fairly small country about 3,500,000 people but more than half of its population are based and live in Ulaanbaatar.
Julia: OK nice, well thank you very much for joining us then from Mongolia today. So IDLO Mongolia organized in November an exposure visit to see best practices in Ontario Family Courts to future implementation in Mongolia. This exposure visit falls under the gender-based violence and domestic violence project at IDLO. I understand that the Project seeks to strengthen the domestic violence response in Mongolia. How IDLO is going to work with the justice sector and justice sector actors to achieve this?
Stephen: Good question. So it’s not so much a matter of going to work with it’s we have been working with. The project started in early January 2019 pre‑pandemic funded by Global Affairs Canada of course. And so over the course of the last three years, the Project wraps up soon in the next four months here, end of March 2023. Overall we’ve been working to strengthen survivor-centred approaches across Mongolia’s justice chain. And we’re doing that generally in three ways. We’ve produced a couple of research products, a trial monitoring research product and kind of a justice chain analysis to better inform our approaches. And then we’re working with justice sector actors across the justice chain, so we’re working with police, prosecutors, and judges for them to better apply survivor-centred approaches when it comes to responses to domestic violence.
And then we’re also working, a big part of the Project is working with civil society in Mongolia. And we can talk a bit more about what we’re doing with civil society later but kind of the first responders, the folks on the frontlines, the folks who are often responding first to survivors of domestic we’re working with and training civil society as well. And then finally there’s a large awareness-raising component kind of across the court system and publicly and in Mongolia’s more rural regions to better inform them of the tools and resources that they have if they’re having issues with domestic violence.
Julia: OK so it’s a lot of sharing of experiences as I hear you. And you said that the Project will end in March 2023. And do you know if it’s going to be expanded or is there any chance that there’s like follow-up on this?
Stephen: Yeah so we’re excited. We’ve had a commitment from Global Affairs Canada to extend the Project and introduce a phase 2. So that will run for another five years. And so as we are in the process of kind of wrapping up this initial project we’re also consulting with stakeholders, partners, and building phase as we speak. So that’s very exciting as well.
Julia: Oh that’s very nice. I mean I’m very – I ask this question because I know that it’s always, you know, better to have those long-term projects even for sustainability and for everything that is built. So it’s very great, congratulations and I’m very glad to hear that. So a question I had in mind was why Mongolia?
Agi: Yeah so as far as I know IDLO has, IDLO Mongolia has successfully implemented, I mean before this project another domestic violence project funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the United States successfully which attracted Global Affairs Canada’s attention. Yeah and just to add to what Stephen shared about IDLO in Mongolia, IDLO began in separation in 2012 and Mongolia exited IDLO as a member party in 2015, and we officially signed a host country agreement with the government of Mongolia in 2021. So our work in Mongolia specifically focusses on SDG16 justice, 5 Equality, and 8 which is Economic Growth.
Stephen: And I think just to add – oh sorry, just to add to what Agi was saying. In terms of Mongolia’s context to sort of why there’s this substantial commitment from Canada both with this current project and with phase 2 to come is that, I mean domestic violence as it’s – it’s an across the world but it’s particularly acute in Mongolia. And it’s not a particularly recent study but it’s still a kind of powerful markers in that the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in 2017 did a kind of large survey and in terms of the findings out of that survey close to 60% of Mongolian women who are either married or in an intimate partner relationship with experience domestic violence in their lifetimes; and so those numbers are shocking.
And we also know that through very severe lockdowns during the pandemic here – and Mongolia was sort of an outlier they were on top of things quickly, very restrictive lockdown kind of from the beginning. We know that caused kind of what’s been termed a shadow pandemic in terms of domestic violence here in Mongolia. So we know that those kind of rates increased as families were forced to kind of be together throughout these lockdowns.
Julia: The shadow pandemic as you say, that’s something unfortunately that I think we found in many parts of the world. Like did IDLO for instance conduct a study themselves before the Project to know more about the justice system sector that we worked and how for instance women had access to justice when they were survivors of domestic violence?
Stephen: In terms of informing our interventions we rely on research that IDLO produced itself. But we also – I mean this initial project that’s just wrapping up now it was largely informed by our previous work with the U.S. State Department. And that kind of fed into the building of the proposal. But then kind of right off the hop we conducted a kind of wide‑ranging trial monitoring research project. And then kind of throughout the first couple of years of the Project also did our justice chain analysis. And findings, recommendations from both those, both that research and our previous work as well as IDLO’s work globally and then other actors in the GBV response space in Mongolia that all is constantly feeding in including consultations with our stakeholders, CSOs so that the Project is as dynamic and flexible as it can be.
Julia: I’m wondering also – so I understand that you’ve been there also now for a while, what is an exposure visit, like do you do that often? Is it something you do every year, how does it work exactly because I’ve never heard – and we don’t that in the NGO I’m working with, so I was wondering like what it is and what do you do exactly during exposure visits and what are the objectives of such visits.
Abdu: I can answer this one. So an exposure visit is really an organized visit made by one organization or a country or whomever to another region just in order to observe or learn from, you know, those communities, organizations, or in our case to learn from the court system here. Generally the purpose behind exposure visits is so that, you know, international development is to have the participants involved so whoever’s coming along for the exposure visit learned about the entities that they’re visiting. This can be in order to kind of implement a new similar system or to improve on the current system that they use just by seeing what kind of common practices exist in a similar system, or it could be just to understand the social economic or other factors that contributed to how a system developed in another nation. But generally the whole concept behind it is to learn and eventually to use what you’ve learned to build something or do something with that information.
Julia: No we definitely do that. I don’t think we call it like that in French but OK I understand what it is, it essentially actually for any international [cooperation 00:10:52] project I would say. And how do you prepare when you want to do such visits and why did you decided to do like an exposure visit at the end of the Project, like did you do some at the beginning and why in November especially?
Stephen: Well I can answer in terms of the timing of it. I can answer that and Agi who did a lot of the work in terms of prepping this visit can answer the second part of that question. But basically it came down to the pandemic sort of wiped off a couple of years of the ability to take delegations abroad; so in some ways that necessitated us squeezing this in late in the Project. But what’s great it is is it coincided with my thinking and IDLOs thinking around OK what are we going to do for the next five year phase of this project? And so that’s kind of exciting because I think it sets the table for the next five years in terms of OK we’ve had this visit, we’ve learned from these court systems, CSOs that we visited, academics, etcetera.
But how do we deepen those partnerships over the course of the next five years so that it becomes less observation and more technical support and breasts practice sharing. Anyway so that’s what’s exciting for me, how do we deepen these partnerships over the next five years? And then – but a lot of work went into the visit. I’ll let Agi speak to kind of the work that IDLO does leading up to a visit like this.
Agi: Thanks Stephen. So in terms of the preparation IDLO has like specific guidelines and methodology on conducting such exposure visits abroad. And it’s also considered as one of the capacity development activities so we need to clearly define in the learning objectives. And also planning of this exposure visit includes like follow-up activities to review the achievement of the learning objectives and also to support the application of the new ideas. And also the approaches that we apply into organizing such visits is participatory and gender sensitive approach; this must be followed to ensure the specific needs of the beneficiaries which is our delegation are taken into consideration; and that all relevant members are fully engaged and are supportive of the initiative.
In our case we organized this visit in cooperation with Judicial General Council and the Supreme Court of Mongolia who were very supportive. So the planning stage includes basically the formulation of general objectives which is concept note document identifying the host location, institutions, why [Ontario Province 00:13:38] is considered to be the best practices, and making the appointment with the Canadian counterparts and selection of the delegation members. And also we conducted pre‑exposure wizard workshop where we discuss what to expect, what types of questions should be asked in order to make sure that learning objectives can be realized; and also logistical stuff like including finding the best interpreter and such things.
Julia: And how can we, you know, how can we make sure that our system, what are the best practices and what are the practices that we can share to our fellow legal actors or our fellow lawyers in other countries. And how do we make sure that what we share is very – the best practices, and is it really a good idea if you wanted – I mean I’m doing the devil advocate here because I’m totally into international cooperation but shouldn’t we be focussing on our own issues instead of sharing some practices that we are maybe not even sure they are yet the bests practices. So you just did mention that and I’d like to go deeper into that question.
Abdu: Well I can answer, you know, the aspect of why should we focus on, you know, international development when are we fully developed ourselves. I’ve thought about this criticism a lot actually. I think ultimately a very – a more nuanced approach is necessary when looking at development in any context whether it’s local or international. Development shouldn’t just be focussed on the bare necessities which is something we often do. We do – we give the minimal funding to achieve whatever this is. We should be focussed on more long-term sustainable practices and ideally they should be far reaching, they should be globalized. I think it’s easier for us as a society and as a people to address short-term issues with short‑term solutions but, you know, all the literature and all the research shows that if you invest more in long-term sustainable processes you generally get by better, and it’s more economically feasible and efficient.
So I think a balanced approach is always necessary and, you know, local development practices I think and the solutions that they come with, the issues and their solutions inform international development and vice versa. So I don’t think you can exist in a vacuum and say, “hey let’s just solve our problems first” because, you know, we’ve been doing that for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s a bit arrogant to think that we can come up with the solution on our own, right.
Stephen: Abdu raises a good point. I mean it’s maybe simplistic to say but the world’s a neighbourhood now. And it’s – the metaphor I think of is of course in our own homes there’s always more we can do to make our homes safer, a more vibrant place. But we’re surrounded by – hopefully we live in places where we’re surrounded by our neighbours and we interact with them and we see their issues and problems. And our instinct I hope and I think it’s a very Canadian instinct but it’s not just Canadian it’s a global instinct too when our neighbour’s in trouble we want to help because we know we have our own issues and we can strengthen each other and support each other.
And I think that ties into kind of, and Agi can probably articulate this better but a very Mongolian ethos, a nomadic herder ethos is when a neighbour comes by you’re inviting them in and you’re feeding them and sheltering them and you’re providing them help kind of automatically. And so I think there’s something you to that. You can feel that ethos and that ethic here. You can’t ignore your neighbours.
Abdu: Yeah and just to add onto that like from a fundamental perspective it’s 2022 you know. I can book a flight to anywhere in the world. I can communicate with anyone in the world. The world is much more global that it used to be. And we only seem to remember that with the negative effects of globalization, like for example how the Ukraine war has cut off supply lines to wheat or barley or whatever we need; and for example COVID with the lack of raw production materials available. So we only seem to kind of incorporate this globalized view when we realize that we’re receiving the negative effects. But we can receive the positive effects and give them too. For me I think Canada is a peace-building nation on the international stage and what it likes to be. It’s too late in the game to be isolationists really.
Julia: What I’ve heard this week is that Canadians were aware also of our great privileges and we don’t want to do nothing with them. I mean we are fully aware. And I think it’s good to be aware of the privilege we have and you don’t want to just sit there and be like, “Yeah that – we can do that but we won’t share.” And I think it’s good to also – and what I hear from what you say as well is the sharing of experiences because I believe that IDLO is probably also learning from – I mean you talk about the ethos of the Mongolian tribes and sharing with the neighbours which already is a great, is a good example of like sharing your experience, practices.
Also I know that some lawyers who are now working in international cooperation sometimes they just wonder well how two different judicial systems with two different cultures or two different contexts can actually go and work together and share best practices. So can you tell us a bit more, what kind of best practices you’ve been sharing and how actually both systems can benefit from each other?
Stephen: When these visits work and when they have impact is when there’s kind of sharing, there’s best practice experience sharing from both parties. And there are lessons to be learnt from both parties and there are lessons to be learnt from the Mongolian judicial system that can be applied in Canada and certainly vice versa as well. And what I like to see on these visits and what I think happened in this visit is that there’s a dialogue. And I think in particular what I’ve been struck by in terms of Mongolia’s judicial system is, it kind of seems strange to put it this way but I think there’s a lot of flexibility, dynamism and responsiveness with our – with justice sector actors. And so IDLO works closely with the police here, investigators on the ground who are investigating domestic violence cases for example.
And we work closely with the Prosecutor General’s Office who are prosecuting these cases. And we work closely of course with judges because this was primarily a judicial delegation. And what I have found and what I have been struck by, and I’ve only been here a year is the willingness to dialogue amongst those actors. And when there are recommendations backed by research the willingness to say, “Hey yeah let’s work to change this.” IDLO works in the anti-corruption space as well kind of enhancing – and one of our goals of our anti-corruption work is enhancing international cooperation. And in the context of that project for example the question arose oh there’s no kind of comprehensive mutual legal assistance law Mongolia, there’s kind of scattered regulations that don’t necessarily align.
And so bringing actors together they were willing to say, “Hey let’s create a kind of comprehensive law that kind of aligns and refines how we seek mutual legal assistance from other jurisdictions.” And there’s just that sort of willingness you see it with our partners. So Supreme Court Justice [unintelligible 00:22:08] who joined the delegation whose part of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Chamber. There’s just a willingness to be flexible, to be dynamic kind of within what’s normally and typically a very rigid justice system. And so it’s the people who are bringing that dynamism and I think that’s really the strength of the justice system here.
Julia: So I hear this strength here, the willingness and the flexibility, the willingness to learn as well and to share, any challenges you have faced or you are expecting to face in your second phase?
Stephen: Lots of challenges.
Julia: [Laughs] Yeah where does it start.
Agi: Yeah, yeah a lot of challenges. And I remember we were discussing the challenges specifically in terms of establishing specialised courts in Mongolia with our delegation members after coming back to Mongolia. And we see that there are pressing needs to train and specialized the judges in domestic violence and specifically in family matters and improve laws and regulations. But in terms of establishing specialized courts like in Ontario of course there will be a lot of challenges specifically in terms of state budget and finance. And Mongolia’s a sparsely populated country with around 3,000,000 population which means like in – you will see only four people in one mile, you know, and such geographic and territorial factors of the country. And since the COVID‑19 pandemic Mongolia has started austerity measures to prevent such recession as the country’s economy is not in a good condition.
And in terms of administrative divisions of Mongolia the country is divided into 21 provinces and the capital is divided into nine districts which means like one quarter per province. So the number of the judges and judicial workloads are the things we need to consider. Also certain homework needs to be done before the creation of specialized course in terms of improving laws and regulations and preparing and training a pool of specialized supporting professionals working with victims of domestic violence and families and children including psychologist, social workers and court support staff etcetera. So I guess IDLO will continually champion in this area to see the results as IDLO’s key priorities are the rule of law and people-centred justice and victim‑centred approach.
Julia: That also brings me to – so the challenges you’ve mentioned you have a project that will go on for five more years but then how do you – how IDLO ensures sustainability in this project, usually but especially in that project?
Agi: So in terms of the sustainability for the GBV project IDLO tried to ensure the Project’s result sustainability through strengthen the capacity of Mongolian counterparts, and secondly building networks and linkages amongst key stakeholders and also supporting the institutionalization of the Project’s initiatives. So a number of significant capacity-building efforts have also been built into the Project and we can name a few of these among them the capacity development of justice sector actors which Stephen mentioned earlier to apply a victim-centered approach in cases of domestic violence specifically the judges curriculum was accredited by the judicial training research and information institute. It’s an institute that operates under the Supreme Court of Mongolia.
And also in capacity-building carried out by IDLO is Legal Aid training for primary advice and legal assistance providers. So specifically the lawyer’s curriculum on providing legal assistance to domestic violence victims was also accredited by the Mongolian Bar Association. Also as Stephen mentioned earlier we conducted this trial monitoring activity so as part of this activity we trained Mongolian civil society on trial observation and monitoring which makes the Mongolian CSO well equipped to conduct such activities independently in the future. Also as part of the Project we supported the establishment of this form of the CSO to promote gender equality and advocate for the rights of the victims of GBV and domestic violence.
Currently there were around like 68 members from 20 provinces across Mongolia and 70% of them were located outside of UB the capital of Mongolia. And many members of the NGOs are service providers and they advocate for the wellbeing of victims. They provide necessary support and assistance and they are also involved in the public legal raising awareness activities. And also members engaged networks in joint advocacy and referral activities which helps to enhance their strength in common endeavours and ensures the sustainability of the partnerships I would say.
Julia: And do you also provide – because I learned of that when I started to work in an international cooperation as well, the importance of trainings of trainers? So that – the people – I see Stephen is like yeah. OK so that’s also something you do. Maybe can you share a bit what is training of trainers and what you do in that aspect?
Stephen: IDLO kind of – well I wouldn’t say pioneered but I feel as though IDLO’s kind of the edge in terms of developing a strong sustainable training of trainers model. And so I mean IDLO started in the early 80s as, you know, three lawyers who wanted to provide training to justice sector actors kind of around the world I think initially in the Sahel but now we’re a global intergovernmental organizational. But through the years – I mean capacity development is our bread and butter. And we’ve kind of refined the way we conduct and carry out training of trainers across the globe. We’ve refined that. And so we have online models, we have offline models that are flexible, adaptable that we can kind of punch in the content that’s needed and kind of tailor it to the trainers that we are training.
And I mean at base if people have never heard of training of trainers, if they’re not in the kind of international development space it’s essentially the principle of teach a person to fish, like that kind of model. And it allows you to reach – it kind of has this, and exponential impact in that these trainers are trained and then they can continue to conduct these trainings if you have institutional buy-in after the Project has completed or that particular aspect of the training has completed as well.
Julia: Thank you very much. Yeah that’s something I found very, very useful and interesting. And I didn’t know that IDLO was kind of a pioneer so that’s even more interesting. Thanks. I would like to go back because I kind of jumped around all the questions because I was just into what you guys were saying. But I would like to – well a bit of, you know, we work in law and everything but it’s also international cooperation, it’s also about a bit of a programmatic. And for instance the policy, so the Project like many GBV projects that are funded by Global Affairs Canada fully aligns with the Feminist International Assistance Policy, the FIAP or F‑I‑A‑P. So I would like you to share with us a bit, you know, like the [bayaba 00:30:33] of this policy, so when it was created, what it aims for and what impacts it had on international cooperation in general?
Abdu: I can talk you ear off about the FIAP so I will [laughs]. But it’s a federal forward-thinking policy focussed on gender equality and women and girl empowerment. What it really is essentially is it’s an integration of the concept of intersectionality within Canadian foreign policy. It was adopted I believe in June 2017 after a pretty lengthy consultation process. I think they got in contact with about 15,000 staff members from organizations overseas the IDLO for example across about 65 countries. So, you know, a lot of work went into development FIAP. And, you know, at its core it seeks to eradicate poverty around the world or at least contribute to its eradication by addressing inequality and ensuring that women and girls really are able to reach their full potential taking into account all the barriers they face.
It’s really a very modern policy in that it goes hand in hand with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals which were mentioned previously. But even though the policy itself kind of identified gender inequality and the empowerment of women and girls as paramount I think they use the terminology core action area. They use – they have other action areas that are, you know, also important or, you know, action areas that they think that if they focus on within the policy that they will – this will give rise to, you know, lowering inequality and empowering women and girls. And for example some of these action areas are human dignity so focussing on humanitarian action around the world, health and nutrition, education is pretty important.
Some other actions are inclusive governance which, you know, IDLO is very in tune with ensuring like countries are democratically run, that everyone gets a say, endorsing really the rule of law and good governance around the world. And I think in terms of IDLO the most important one is peace and security so promoting these inclusive peace processed and combatting gender-based violence across the world. You know when I speak about peace processes for example, you know, research shows that if you have women involved in the conversation the peacebuilding process the likelihood that whatever peace process is – whatever achieved peace process lasts more than 15 years increases by 35%. So simple things we can do to make the world run much more efficiently and better for everyone.
Julia: Do you feel like there has been a shift in a project or in a corporation or in the focus in the past years?
Abdu: Yeah well it’s relatively new but even without kind of going into the nuts and bolts of everything at the end of the Harper administration in about 2014/15 less than 2,000,000 in funding was spent on gender equality. The FIAP promises 150,000,000 over five years. So just comparing those two numbers you’re going from less than 2,000,000 to 30,000,000 per year. And that doesn’t even cover all the other side projects that Global Affairs Canada funds for example. And you know like ultimately it encourages international legal cooperation simply because of what it will achieve. It’s estimated that growth led by women can contribute to a 12 trillion dollar increase in world GDP. Now that means absolutely nothing on its own, right, but if you take the worlds’ GDP in 2021 96,000,000 that’s almost a 12%, more than a 12% increase in GDP by really just making sure that process are more inclusive, take into account everyone who’s going to be affected by them.
Julia: I didn’t know that number, I’m going to keep that one in my back pocket, it’s a good one. It’s a really good –
Abdu: Sounds good [laughs].
Julia: – it’s a really good argument to have more women at the table, right, around the negotiation table. That’s very interesting. But you did mention though, you know, between two governments. So how can we make sure as a civil society or as advocates for this and that we – I mean we see you, you name the importance of having, of fighting GBV, of having projects relating to empowering women and girls. But how can we make sure that once we have a, I don’t know, if we have a new government eventually that we keep, oops, this international cooperation, legal cooperation continues to have this great focus on women’s rights, girls rights, and making sure that not only women and girls actually everybody, everybody is concerned at the table during peacemaking processes but also in an international legal process in general? I know it’s a hard question and I don’t have the answer so [laughs] I don’t know if you do.
Stephen: No, no it’s – I mean hard questions are good questions. You have to – I mean you have to be clear-eyed in terms of political shifts and priorities of a given political party. And I mean I don’t want to delve too much into that but I think ensuring that, you know, this FIAP remains kind of front and centre in terms of our international cooperation and development. I think it comes down to not just being able to articulate the strengths of the aims and the policy drivers of FIAP. It’s not just a matter of articulating that in and of itself I think it’s a matter of demonstrating the specific impact of these projects. So FIAP has led to, I mean it led to the funding of this GBV prevention project in Mongolia and I know it’s led to similar initiatives across the aims of that policy around the world.
But I think what it comes down to is demonstrating the results of those projects. And not just on a spreadsheet or in a report it’s taking the evidence of that impact that you’ve gathered and telling a story. And I think that’s what lands with politicians, that’s what lands with the public, you gather this evidence of the impact of your project but what – it’s a matter of articulating what story that tells. It’s gathering the evidence and then brokering that evidence; and so it comes down to communications, it comes to advocacy. And the people who are carrying those messages and telling those stories that matters too.
Julia: Yeah. Yeah and you just touched upon, like I was going there so thank you for that, when you say advocacy and communication about the Projects that we do and I couldn’t agree more with that you just said Stephen, thank you. And I don’t know if Agi or Abdu you want to add anything to that?
Abdu: Yeah I can totally add to that. One of the key kinds of factors that the FIAP seeks to incorporate comes from a gender-based analysis backdrop. So a lot of the policies we make tend to be – I mean let’s face it we’ve been a country that has been run by men for hundreds of years and a lot of these policies have been historically made by men to serve men. So, you know, incorporating a gender analysis backdrop to everything allows you to look at these policies or whatever if you’re creating new legislation and to see how it will impact the people it’s going to impact.
And I think, you know, one of the key aspects of the FIAP is that it’s cross-cutting. So all the initiatives that Global Affairs Canada deals with across all the action areas I mentioned should be developed and implemented in a way so that they can ensure continuity. You know when a new administration comes in and says, “Hey we don’t really agree with this” no we’ve done studies; we’ve done research to show why this is more effective.
Julia: Yeah. I’m sorry Abdu I am listening to you for sure but now there is [laughs] –
Abdu I’m distracted too don’t worry about it [laughs].
Julia: – [unintelligible 00:39:49] little one that just joined us.
Stephen: Just so listeners know my son has joined the chat so.
Julia: That’s great. That’s perfect.
Julia: Everybody’s welcome to this podcast so that’s very good. But no Abdu yeah you’re totally right. And I think you’re kind of talking about here the, in French it’s the [speaking French 00:40:08], the analysis that you have to do to make sure that the Projects you have has an impact. That takes into account the realities of right holders. And I’d like to know like in this specific project did you have a chance to have a bit, you know, to have a talk with or discuss with some victims and survivors of domestic violence or did you have a chance to talk with NGOs working with them if not directly with the survivors?
Abdu: Yeah we actually – so during the exposure visit we visited a few organizations that specifically deal with victims of gender-based violence. We visited the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in Toronto as well as Luke’s Place and they, you know, a few of the organizations exclusively deal with these issues. So it’s – I think having an informed kind of backdrop to your initiative is the most important thing you can do or else what’s the purpose of the initiative really.
Julia: Yeah, yeah what’s the purpose is just totally – I totally agree. Some would not agree but I totally agree with that. And Agi because we talk about what will be the point of having a project if you don’t, you know, have a background or if you don’t talk with the right elders or people who’s going to be re-impacted by this project. Well I’d like also to talk to you about – because I understand you are the pro of communication and I understand – well we know that advocacy and doing all these nice projects to increase access to justice to make sure that judges do not have those stereotypes, are more informed, etcetera, well it’s very great and we can strengthen the legal framework.
But if we don’t talk directly or we don’t make sure that victims and survivors are not informed of those great initiatives, and we don’t communicate with them the Project and what has been done then they will not trust more the legal system and we will go back to where we were at the beginning. So do you have any strategies that have been used or you are expecting to use, you know, to share this project with Mongolian people in Mongolian communities to women and girls who are living in remote areas of the country?
Agi: Yeah thanks Julia. So while implementing this public legal awareness activities as part of the Project we had a chance to meet the victims and grassroot service providers, civil society, shelters, and the interesting thing that we found out was that most of the victims they tend to not know about the domestic violence and they have no idea that they are a victim or a survivor of the domestic violence, and they would think that it’s something OK to happen to them because they don’t know the signs. And once they come to the shelter like after reporting to the police they feel more empowered. And it’s the first point where they start to think of receiving help from professionals or legal service providers, and they would start to think that oh actually I can have a divorce, I can have a lawyer, this violence is not something that I should be tolerating for all my life.
And they also see other women in the shelter and they realize that they’re not alone in this path and other women are experiencing the same thing. So our goal of the campaign was to reach such victims and also provide the legal awareness materials, contents, and informing of the services available for them before in an initial early stage rather than only wasting time and making it difficult, you know, the severe until going to the shelter. And indeed domestic violence is still considered a very hidden crime in Mongolia with very less reporting to the police. And also statistics show that only 5% of domestic violence cases go to court or in other words meaning just two in 10 cases get resolved at court proceedings; so there is a lot of under-reporting. As part of the Project we developed the Family Centre website as part of the campaign. It’s Family Centre and Men website.
It was collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs and the goal of the platform was to provide information, advice and help the families to assist families in building better relationships to promote gender equality and prevent domestic violence. And we hope that this new resource will increase the understanding of legal rights among the victims and interest groups and serve as a like hub for gender-based violence resources in the country. And the website also allows resources addressing root causes of domestic violence, gender stereotypes, services available, and list of service providers and support for victims. So it’s really important to collaborate with grassroot, civil society, legal clinics, and shelters and especially [unintelligible 00:45:37]. It’s the smallest administration unit in the provinces to reach the [herding 00:45:43]. So we still have a challenge to reach those in the remote areas as [herding community 00:45:50] is the majority of the population.
Julia: And I kind of feel like the website you’ve been mentioning or what you’re doing is also about preventing. Instead of always being in reaction of something it’s also about preventing so talking about gender equality. So it’s very interesting and I think it’s an important tool. And also I hear that there’s kind of a holistic approach here so you share also resources or not just legal but for sure as well, I’m guessing here but medical and also psychosocial support. And I see Stephen being yes. So OK that’s good, so that’s very great. I mean that’s very interesting; thank you Agi for that. But I’m sure there are still some challenges but you guys now have five more years so that’s very great. So I would like to finish because well with – well you’ve been very generous with your time but I still have I would say two more questions.
Could you tell us a bit more, like how can you have a career in a legal international cooperation, where do you start, do you have any tips? I mean Abdu I know you are part of the Yong Lawyer International Program so maybe you want to share a bit about your experience with this program, and just for our listeners it’s a program with the CBA. So maybe you’d like to share about this experience and maybe Stephen as well, yeah?
Abdu: For sure, for sure. I think having a career in legal international development or cooperation ultimately stems from desire. You have to want to do it. It’s not something that’s just going to come your way. And I mean it might, it’s happened to people but don’t count on it is what I’m saying. There’s no – so when you go through law school and, you know, you have hundreds of classmates, there’s a traditional pathway for you to follow but there’s no traditional pathway for young lawyers to necessarily follow when it comes to getting involved with international development. I mean most people I know that manage to make a career out of it are really open-minded so that’s one thing. And take your chances when they come, you might not get a second chance at something.
Where to start? I think well like the YLIP Program is probably a great place to start, at least it was for me. I think the most important tip though that I can give is just to keep your eyes open for any opportunity, so if you’re interested in working with a specific organization follow them on LinkedIn, follow them on Facebook, get to know (a) what they’re doing on a daily basis, and (b) if any opportunities arise you’ll be first to know. But most importantly never be afraid to get to know people or ask questions about how others came to be in that position, I think that’s essential.
Stephen: Yeah I think Abdu is a good example about how you set about seeking an international career. And sorry you’re hearing my kids in the background but I’m just going to plough on. It’s Chinggis Khan birthday so it’s – I think it’s his 800th anniversary of his birth and so my children are at a French school but they get Mongolian holidays and also French holidays so they’re often at home. But anyway I just want to – Abdu I just want to say Abdu’s a great example about how you go about stating an international career. And I just have to echo, I was really glad that we had the opportunity Abdu supported as rapporteur and questioner and participant in this delegation to Toronto. He wasn’t afraid to connect with the delegation to make himself useful. He was bold in terms of his questioning.
He didn’t think oh I have to keep my mouth shut and just pretend I’m a junior lawyer. And so – and that’s what it takes. It takes yeah openness, a willingness to connect, to put yourself out there, and yeah when those opportunities arise to go for it. And so often in early days it comes through internships or it may happen during law school itself. But it’s just – I think it’s also a realizing too and as someone who studied in a Canadian law school like Abdu it’s a willingness to realize that there’s not some linear path as a lawyer especially in this day and age where technology things are changing so rapidly. It’s not a mountain as a teacher said to me once, it’s not a mountain it’s more like a climbing wall where you’re kind of up and down. And I think if you view your career that way then there’s a lot more opportunities.
Like when I was in law school I started – I summered an article at a white‑shoe law firm. And then I was on the regulatory side. And then my wife went overseas and I followed her and I was open to opportunities. And so there – as they – as the famous play the Duchess of Malfi which everyone knows this famous Elizabethan play. But there are many paths to seeming glory so that would – so I encourage people who want to have as career in international development yeah be flexible, be bold, and often go to these places where you want to work. If you want to work there be in – you have to be in these hotspots. You can’t – often you can’t do it from sitting behind a desk in Canada.
Julia: So true, thank you so much. I wish I had that advice when I started and I can say that for myself as well. I mean I don’t want to promote too much YLIP but why not? I mean I also started with YLIP and I just had such a great – it was such a great professional experience for me. I was in [Serbia 00:52:02] I remember. So I truly encourage people to go check out what’s happening on the CBA website. But thank you so much. Is there any questions I haven’t asked that you would like to share because sometimes I just like, I go from like one question to another and I might forget something. Maybe you’d like to add something, so it’s your time here to shine otherwise I’d like to thank you very much.
Abdu: I got no questions but I’m just going to talk about the YLIP Program just a little in case any listener is kind of interested.
Julia: Oh yeah go ahead. Yeah, yeah let’s go [laughs].
Abdu: [Laughs] So the Program itself is executed by the CBA, the Canadian Bar Association. But it received its funding from Global Affairs Canada so pretty cool. The IDLO is funded by Global Affairs Canada and so is the YLIP Program so I’m just kind of stuck between that. But the general aim of the Program is to facilitate young law graduates or young lawyers with any – you know facilitate them with experiences if they’re interested in justice and development. You know kind of – like I don’t know how it was for you guys but coming out of law school or even after practicing for a bit you become kind of engulfed in the law and less in understanding the factors behind what made the law what it is, what made the law operate this way.
And so when you’re working with, you know, YLIP partner organizations you’re pretty much forced to learn and incorporate a more multifaceted approach in problem solving then just understanding the law and applying the law. At least that’s my take on it. Yeah so any kind of young lawyers or young graduates who are interested in the YLIP Program and interested in international development go for it. Why not?
Julia: Thank you so much. Thank you so much to the three of you. It was very interesting. I’m very glad we had the opportunity to have a podcast on this great initiative for IDLO and that people could learn a bit more. And maybe we’ll have you like in three years so you can share also a bit of like the impacts that you had now after this great project. Well no in two years and it won’t be done, you’ll still have two more years; but anyway maybe we’ll have you in two years to talk about this project and the impact it had. Well thank you very much and I wish you a great day wherever. So for you it’s the beginning of the day in Mongolia I think but for us it’s the end of the day; so a good day to everyone.
Stephen: Thanks. Thanks so much. Thanks so much Julia, it’s been a great conversation.
Agi: Thank you Julia it was really interesting talking to you.
Abdu: Yeah thank you so much Julia it’s been wonderful.
Julia: Thanks for listening to The Every Lawyer and my conversation with Stephen Gerald Kent, Abdu Murabit, and Agi Sumber from IDLO Mongolia. And feel free to reach out to us anytime at podcast@CBA.org.
Male: Hi I’m Steeves Bujold President of the Canadian Bar Association. I’d like to invite you to welcome with me Barbara Findlay, Lee Nevens and Judge Kael McKenzie among others to a series of kitchen table discussions on the legal system protecting its institutions, judicial independence, access to justice. Where to start? You can see there’s a lot to talk about, Conversations with the President, Episode 1 is out now. And if I may please allow me to recommend our other great podcast channels Modern Law with Yves Faguy, Editor of CBA National and The Every Lawyer with Julia Tétrault‑Provencher. Thank you for listening.
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