Global Defender Support
The First Line of Defense
The importance of defenders to criminal justice progress cannot be overstated. Defenders must not only provide the just and competent legal representation, they often also must push forward fundamental reforms in their country’s criminal justice system.
The skills required for defenders to perform these roles go beyond providing criminal defense tools and training. Access to the international community, an opportunity to continually develop and learn, and recognition for their efforts are all equally essential to provide the defenders with the ongoing support necessary to continue their courageous work. These exceptional individuals, who strive tirelessly to afford their clients meaningful defense, are the focus of IBJ’s support.
IBJ has thus developed complementary programming strategies which, in addition to our in-country activities, allow us to reach all defenders worldwide and create a global community of practice, regardless of whether IBJ has established program activities in a given country.
The Global Defender Support Program serves as a collaborative platform to catalyze social learning, knowledge-sharing and innovation across national boundaries, and enable the defender community in the developing world to receive much-needed international support and resources.
Further, the program serves as the basis for the replication of IBJ’s model worldwide, through the recruitment and training of local Country Fellows, who lead the development of IBJ’s programs in new countries.
In addition, IBJ has launched Communities of Conscience, an international training and exchange program which enables the visit of defenders from developing countries to locations in North America or Europe.
“We will apply the knowledge and spirit that we have learned during this training session to make every effort to safeguard the legal rights of disadvantaged groups and to protect justice. Legal Aid is ‘a long way to go with a heavy load.’ We will struggle forever.”
The Global Defender Support Program
Institutionalizing Defender Practices Worldwide
While local initiatives remain the most integral aspect of IBJ’s work, the Global Defender Support program allows us to connect our passionate local defenders and their organizations in ways that have never previously been explored.
The GDS program facilitates knowledge diffusion, innovation and resource sharing, and creates increasingly more opportunities for personal interaction, which is crucial for strengthening both the practice and commitment of defenders worldwide.
Innovation happens in all of our local communities, but without an effective, interactive, personal network to diffuse this innovation, it is less likely to expand beyond the borders of the community in which an idea is created. Further, cross-cultural interaction will foster a higher volume of legal innovation because experiences can be shared and analyzed in new ways by people from varying backgrounds, creating a rich environment for ideas to grow. The result is a global community of practice in which lawyers truly feel connected to each other and have a tangible system of support.
Specifically, the three overall objectives of the program are:
- To enable defenders from any country to access a comprehensive, web-based repository of legal resource and training materials for implementation in their own countries (tools, methodologies, processes)
- To build communities and promote knowledge-sharing among defenders on a global level by creating a collaboration platform that facilitates discussions on best practices and lessons learned.
- To promote international awareness, recognition, and support for defenders by providing international linkages and networking opportunities with their peers and other key criminal justice stakeholders.
In the long run, the GDS program aims to become the collaborative platform for the defender community worldwide, by providing materials and online tools to support local defenders and legal aid organizations. It will allow legal professionals to tap into IBJ resources and obtain practical and symbolic support, regardless of whether IBJ is operating a local project in their location.
Through the GDS program, IBJ provides courageous defenders everywhere with increased social capital so that the conditions for a successful practice of criminal justice are met. By establishing a global community of practice in addition to our grassroots country programming, IBJ brings an innovative and complete solution for success to defenders.