- LuxDev's Regional office
- Vientiane Regional Office
- Vocational Training & Access to Employment
- PIC 4
- 2016 - 2020
- Implementation period
- 15 November 2017 - 30 November 2022
- Total duration
- 60 months
- Total budget
- 7,300,000 EUR
- Contribution breakdown
- Luxembourg Government
In 2009, Lao PDR adopted a Legal Sector Master Plan (LSMP) that establishes the framework to develop effective institutions in the entire legal sector as the foundation for the Rule of Law.
Furthermore, the Lao PDR’s 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) 2016-2020 aims to facilitate the graduation from Least Developed Country status by 2020 and to consolidate regional and international integration in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community. Among the cross-cutting issues addressed by the NSEDP is the enhancement of the effectiveness of the public governance and administration. These goals highlight the need to develop a law system that is complete, harmonised, clear, reliable and accessible to everybody.
Positive trends have been triggered through the previous Luxembourg-funded project LAO/023 in order to strengthen the higher education in the legal sector. However, complying with ASEAN standards and updating the curricula towards the evolution of the legal framework requires a constant effort for improving further the efficiency of the faculties.
Access to justice also needs to be further strengthened. As stated in the LSMP, there are “insufficient conditions to allow people access to justice by themselves or through lawyers or other guardians in all levels of the court proceedings and in all cases to secure the rights in obtaining legal assistance, especially for the poor and people having less opportunity”.
Based on these challenges, the current project has two specific objectives:
- The reinforcement of the enabling environment for access to justice, which should lead to strengthened access to justice;
- The continuation of the strengthening of legal education and training, which should lead to improved legal higher education and strengthened institutional capacity.
The main beneficiaries of the project are legal practitioners and civil servants active in the legal sector, civil servants of the Ministry of Justice, and academic staff, notably of the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Vientiane and the Faculty of Law and Administration of Champasak.
LAOS - Adjusted approaches to virtual during the COVID-19 lockdown
On 22 April 2021, the Lao Government had announced the countrywide lockdown, affecting all sectors of society not least in Vientiane. Pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Order No. 15/PM, dated 21 April 2021, on COVID-19 Prevention and Controlling Measures, suggested all the government offices to initiate rotation staff except the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, firefighters, electricity and public water supply officials, communication officials and task force committee officials. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education and Sport issued a notice for the educational institutions to be closed until further notice and that remote learning would be implemented as appropriate.
As a result, all activities of both the LAO/031 project and its counterparts went temporary virtual, as illustrated below through a few examples.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has dealt with the lockdown by scheduling a rotation for respective staff, necessary because domestic bureaucratic procedures are conducted through paperwork. However, the internal communication is generally done via WhatsApp and phone call. The physical meetings are occasionally organized within the conditions set forth by the government, with no more than 10 individuals in attendance.
The Institute for Legal Support and Assistance (ILSTA) has adapted to move to online delivery of training events, and their e-learning platform has been in greater demand during lockdown. ILSTA produces e-Lectures on a range of legal topics based on their Technical Guides which are taught during ILSTA workshops throughout the country and are preparing new online content for capacity building. Examples of this revised modality has included Open Lectures scheduled at the Faculty of Law with online Q&A sessions, as well as e-Lectures with quizzes on the subject matter for more than 270 judiciary and law enforcement officers in all provinces. Furthermore, the English for Law training programmes, including placement testing of new students for the course had to be completed online. This has necessitated developing instructions on how to use apps such as Zoom, the translation of the learning platform (Vedamo) into Lao and circulation in Whatsapp messenger groups, trial classes and training of students in how to access and take part in online lessons. To further facilitate effective participation, students are provided with monthly mobile broadband top-up to enable them to access classes. Based on this experience, ILSTA will continue to develop, deliver and facilitate training and engage with beneficiaries through online forums, viewing it as an opportunity for Lao government staff to enhance their ICT skills and to open up to the world of online learning.
The Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos has launched E-Learning of the five-study programmes to keep the teaching and learning practice on track including: Civil Law, Criminal Law, Business Law, Political Science and International Relations Department. The faculty members have conducted remote learning and disseminate the materials through multiple channels including WhatsApp, Messenger, Google Classroom, Zoom and e-mail. Aside from the instructors’ E-Lectures, students are assigned to collaborate in small groups on research, presentations and interaction sessions. Following that, these students are required to submit their assignments on the due time. Nevertheless, given the lack of online teaching and learning experience, not all faculty members have found themselves able to deliver lectures remotely.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has also transferred all the learning and teaching activities online instead of the temporary closure, with students attending the virtual classes via computers and mobile phones. However, challenges still to be addressed include a lack of proper equipment, facilities and steady internet connection for both faculty members and students, the need for intensive instruction for teachers on how to use e-learning resources, and the need to enhance students’ knowledge of how to optimize the benefits of remote learning.
In contrast to the FLP and NIJ, the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of Champasak University has not implemented remote learning, finding that most of students in provinces unlike students in the capital are unable to make this transition due to lack of capacities, the availability of learning tools and stable internet connections.
Lastly, the LAO/031 project team has also adjusted all aspect of work to online, from partner support, team collaboration over financial administration. In early May 2021, the annual project audit by the external auditors from Ernst & Young Global Limited was conducted remotely. Switching from mainstream to remote auditing enable auditors to inspect the records anywhere on their convenience; however, this required a massive effort in terms of scanning all supporting documents, a far more time-consuming process than merely consulting binders of physical documents and being able to ask for clarifications from the related staff, which is instead done by e-mail. Furthermore, on 26 May LAO/031 hosted a Zoom-based Technical Coordination Meeting with more than 30 stakeholders from the partner institutions including the universities and justice sector institutions, Luxembourg Development and the Embassy. Successfully conducting the meeting virtually, with each participant connecting individually, sharing of documentation, discussion and exchange, with simultaneous translation Lao/English, is a positive indicator of the capacity and willingness of also the Lao stakeholders to adopt to this new reality – although IT-infrastructure especially outside the capital continues to challenge bridging the gap between the capital and provinces.
LAO/031 project is co-financed by the Government of Laos and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and implemented by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - Justice for all Access to Justice Programme
The programme to enable the Lao people have easier access to justice has reached a remarkable progress since started, Reginald Pastrana, former Chief Technical Advisor of the Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos - LAO/031 project said in a report. “As the Lao justice system goes into a significant phase, it will continuously offer citizens numerous options for legal recourse when their rights are violated,” he explained, adding that the Government of Laos (GoL) has instituted a strong legal enabling environment in the promotion of law and the enhancement of access to justice to its people.
Chief among these was the GoL’s adoption of Prime Minister (PM) Decree No. 77 in establishing legal aid offices and its effort to upgrade the Village Mediation Committees (VMCs), the alternative non-formal justice system, into a PM decree.
To bridge the gap between Lao citizens and the justice system, LAO/031 has already established five provincial legal aid offices and 15 legal aid offices in various districts. “These legal aid offices rely on trained Ministry of Justice (MoJ) district and provincial officers, together with members of the Lao Bar Association (LBA), to educate their fellow citizens about their legal rights and how to defend their rights in Lao’s formal and informal justice systems,” he explained.
On the Legal Education Campaigns
Pastrana further reported that using a variety of public education materials including comic books, pamphlets, and multimedia CDs, Project LAO/031, together with the Institute of Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA), supported the various government functionaries, especially the MoJ, to spread information on access to justice, particularly for women and children, to schools, provinces, districts and villages. Important laws were also disseminated including, among others, laws against violation of women and children, the law on human trafficking, land rights, and several others. The Clinical Legal Education at the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos, together with some members of the LBA, provided free legal consultations. They also gave legal referrals and information on human rights and other forms of legal assistance.
Still, many people, especially women, are not aware of their legal rights or how to use the formal justice system. Additionally, many do not know where to turn when they face legal problems that could be resolved through the courts or community mediation. To reach the greatest number of vulnerable Lao citizens, the CTA explained that Mobile Legal Clinic outreach missions were held by the FLP teams at the far-flung province such as Attapeu. “As a result, a large number of people were able to attend and receive information on their legal rights, obtain one-on-one counselling on specific issues and in some cases, filed request,” he said.
Capacity Strengthening Programmes
It must be noted that the Lao People’s Supreme Court, the State Inspection Authority, the Office of the Supreme People’s Prosecutor, the MoJ and security sector institutions are critical actors that enforce rule of law, increase security and protect citizens’ rights. However, their capacity and authority are still not fully developed and needs further improvement, he further reported.
To address some of these issues, Pastrana said that the project, together with ILSTA, and in partnership with the GoL’s justice institutions, is undertaking a broad set of activities in the area of justice sector capacity building and modernisation. The primary goal of the project is to support Lao’s judicial institutions to strengthen their capacity with the ultimate purpose of improving the rule of law in Laos. The activities include the capacity development of the officers of these institutions, training on some key developments on law, like anti-money laundering, mutual legal assistance, anti-human trafficking, among others. A strong and reliable justice system in Laos is key to a secure society and a growing economy, he said.
LAO/031 project is co-financed by the Government of Laos and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Justice and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - Towards achieving ASEAN Quality Assurance Standards in legal education
The Quest of Improving Quality Assurance in Legal Education in Laos
Legal education is not only important but challenging to develop and maintain its quality status. Indeed, law itself is so important as it pervades every public policy and human affair. However, to nurture the future talented judges, lawyers and building good legal institutions are tremendous challenges for educators, managers and academic staff who work in the field of legal education.
Recognising the strategic importance and key role of modern legal education in enhancing the quality of the legal graduates as well as to strengthen the legal education in Laos, the road towards achieving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) quality assurance standards for legal education offered by the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos (NUOL) and the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of Champassak University began in 2018. This is part of the on-going effort to support the project LAO/031 titled “Support Project to Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos” funded by the Luxembourg Cooperation and implemented by LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency. The project seeks to enhance the quality assurance standards of FLP and FLA with the ASEAN Quality Assurance Reference Framework (AQAF) which was launched in 2016 to harmonize the quality assurance standards among ASEAN member states. Meeting the AQAF facilitates the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint which underlines the need for “the movement of business persons, skilled labour and talents” as a key element for achieving greater economic integration in ASEAN.
ASEAN QA Standards vis-à-vis Improvement of Legal Education
The AQAF was jointly developed by the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN), SEAMEO Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO RIHED) and ASEAN University Network (AUN). In harmonising the quality assurance standards to the AQAF, AUN develops and continually revises its AUN-QA institutional and programme frameworks to meet the changing needs of higher education as well as meeting the regional and global economic and industrial trends. Besides, to promote the quality education in the region, the AQAF serves as a common reference point for quality assurance agencies and institutions as they strive towards harmonisation amidst the diversity of quality assurance systems, cultures and traditions within the region. The framework uses generic principles and statements of good practices. Hence, its purpose is to promote good practices of internal and external quality assurance and improve the quality assurance of programmes and faculties in a systemic way.
In this light, reviewing and redesigning the legal education of Laos to meet the AUN-QA programme framework would be the way forward for Laos to meet the AQAF and paving the way to greater legal and economic integration and cooperation in ASEAN.Furthermore, to meet the ASEAN QA standard, the FLP and the legal programme need to satisfy the quality of education, being defined and described clearly in each sub-criterion. They include quality of academic and support staff; student quality; student advice and support; and facilities and infrastructure. Besides, quality assurance of teaching and learning, staff development and stakeholders’ feedback, as well as the achievement of the outputs such as pass rates and dropout rates, the average time to graduate, employability of the graduates, and research activities are all required in the standard, which is illustrated in the Figure 1.
Figure 1: AUN-QA Programme Framework (Version 3)
The Prominent Results from Initiative of LAO/031 Project
The quality assurance journey of FLA and FLP started with a gap analysis of their quality assurance systems vis-à-vis the AUN-QA programme framework (Version 3) through two training workshops: AUN-QA Programme Framework, and Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) Framework and Focus Group Design. Following the gap analysis, areas for improvement of the study programmes offered by FLP and FLA were identified. The FLP was prioritized to lead the curriculum design and review of its five study programmes in the LAO/031 project. The commendable journey towards achieving the ASEAN quality assurance standards by FLP is illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2: The roadmap to achieve the ASEAN – QA Standard in FLP
In preparing for the plan to have the five study programmes from FLP certified by the AUN-QA Network, a series of initiatives were rolled out to close the identified gaps in the FLP’s quality assurance system by the project and the regional and international experts.
Taking a big picture of the legal development in Laos and the region as well as the AUN-QA programme framework, the new curricula of the five undergraduate programmes were revised and approved by NUOL and the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in 2019 and implemented in Academic Year 2020. The new curricula took into consideration of the ASEAN Qualification Reference Framework, the National Qualification Framework, AUN-QA standards and the varied legal and labour market needs of the stakeholders.
The implementation of the new curricula was followed by a series of capacity building workshops and consultations on the formulation of learning outcomes, design of course syllabus, writing of self-assessment report, and internal quality assessor training.
Workshop of Self-Assessment Report (SAR) Writing held in 2019. © LuxDev
Despite being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, FLP did not stop its quality assurance journey. In fact, it continues to push through initiatives to strengthen and enhance its competences in quality assurance and quality assurance system. In October and November 2020, two pilot assessments were carried out by the regional and international experts to assess its five study programmes and in preparing the faculty for its AUN-QA programme certification in 2021. The two pilot assessments were carried out online over 9 days involving Division Heads, Heads of Department, faculty members, support staff and students. The preliminary findings of the five study programmes to improve the curricula, resources, and internal quality assurance system were presented and submitted to FLP for follow-up.
Online 1st Pilot Assessment – Interview with Students. © LuxDev
Opening Ceremony of the 2nd Pilot Assessment. © LuxDev
In sustaining the quality assurance practices in FLP, an internal quality assurance (IQA) documentation system project (Figure 3) was mooted. The documentation covers the ten core processes of the IQA system of FLP and it is expected to be completed in March 2021.
Figure 3: FLP’s IQA Documentation System
Towards the ASEAN QA Certified Legal Education in Laos in 2025
In moving forward, FLP in collaboration with the LAO/031 project and the regional and international experts will continue to enhance its IQA system in preparing for its AUN-QA programme certification of its five study programmes in 2021. Mock assessment of its five study programmes involving external stakeholders and a study visit to universities of a neighbouring country have been planned. A plan to nurture a pool of local experts as part of the project sustainability in the longer term has been conceived.
To further extend the benefits of the Luxembourg cooperation project in FLP, plan for FLA and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to achieve the ASEAN quality assurance standards has been conceived in the next five year from 2021 to 2025. A sharing conference of FLP’s experience in the quality assurance with FLA and NIJ has been planned on 23 December 2020 which will be hosted by the LAO/031 project and FLP. In the longer term, facilities and infrastructure at FLP will be improved by the project to enhance the students’ learning experience and environment.
For instance, the strategic plan for improving the quality of legal education from LAO/031 and FLP focuses its efforts on supporting and facilitating the following key issues and activities:
- Developing, implementing and improving the legal curriculum, meeting the requirements for national and regional accreditation of educational programmes;
- Nurturing the culture and values of high-quality education through introducing the mechanisms for ensuring its quality, enhancing academic integrity, developing procedures for legal education quality assurance units for monitoring and improvement of the quality of education purpose;
- Applying appropriate teaching and learning methods of law schools to teaching students professional values and skills required to practice law;
- Meeting the standards and requirements for the legal content of the academic integrity system, applying various practice-oriented projects through the use of court trial broadcasts in teaching law, etc.; and
- Enhancing the quality of facilities and infrastructure as well as teaching materials, well-equipped classroom and offices, safety and securities standards to support teaching and learning process.
With the support and concerted effort by the LAO/031 project office, FLP, FLA and NIJ, and the regional and international experts through developing and implementing a number of initiatives, projects and documents aimed at standardising and modernising legal education, collaboratively we will uplift the quality of legal education and its quality assurance to ASEAN QA standards and be at par with the developed universities in ASEAN.
LAOS - Officials from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Planning and Investment learn results-based Monitoring and Evaluation
Between July and August 2020, LuxDev Regional Office in Vientiane Laos, jointly with the Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos, LAO/031 and the Strengthening the Effectiveness of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Management in LAO PDR programme, LAO /033, conducted a set of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) workshops for the Department of International Cooperation (DIC), Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). These governmental agencies are the key national partners for the above-mentioned projects.
Group work on the results chain quiz of project LAO/033, © LuxDev
The workshop focused on:
- basic understanding of Monitoring and Evaluation (concepts and the relationship);
- Monitoring and Evaluation within LuxDev (including guides and result-based reporting).
The workshop was chaired by the Vice Minister of Justice and attended by Director Generals, Deputy Director Generals, representatives from line departments, divisions, cabinet office, District Justice Office and Provincial Justice Department in Bolikhamxay and Khammouan provinces.
Participant’s reflection after the workshop, © LuxDev
During and after the workshop we spoke with Mr. Sysomphorn Phetdaoheuang, Deputy Director General of DIC/MPI and Ms. Saikit Visisomebath, Deputy Director General of DIC/MoJ:
Question: Why does this M&E workshop matter for your departments?
"We are really keen to understand and learn the basic and principles of M&E for results. We, as a key coordinating agency on behalf of the government in mobilizing Official Development Assistance (ODA), should know what are we focusing on and what we aim to deliver. What exactly are we trying to achieve? The most important thing is how we will tell whether our support is working.
Lack of monitoring tools and reliable data are ongoing challenges in our legal sector and so is ODA, when it comes to annual reviews and reporting to the government and the National Assembly.
As you might know, our country has signed up for many international treaties and development agendas, including the 2030 Agenda and more importantly, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC). As a part of our international commitment, having proper monitoring tools help us to systematically track progress and demonstrate the impact of our activities.
This M&E workshop allows us to gain some basic understanding and answers to the above-mentioned questions. Furthermore, while in the past we have read many project design documents, terms of reference of project evaluations, we did not fully know what to look for in those documents and how to provide good advice to our senior managers and constructive feedback to our development partners.
Question: Could you tell us three things that you’ve learned from this workshop?
The three key take away from this M&E workshop are:
- understanding what is the result chain or intervention logic;
- understanding what is M&E and its relationship; and
- understanding the concept of indicators in terms of what we should consider as a good project indicator.
Question: Could you tell us one specific tool or strategy that you will use right away after the workshop when you come back to your office?
The specific tool that I will use right after this workshop is the result chain concept which I think is particularly important for the project planning. If we understand it well and get the logic right, it would be easy for us to monitor the progress and meaningfully assess to what extent we are moving towards our project objectives.
The workshop facilitator elaborates the results chain concept, © LuxDev
Ms. Saikit Visisomebath, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation, MoJ explains the different stages of the project LAO/031 results chain, © LuxDev
Participants from Department of International Cooperation, Department of Inspection-MPI, Department of International Organisation - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lao Securities Commission Office, © LuxDev
M&E is increasingly perceived as important for key line ministries who are responsible for Official Development Assistance projects in Laos, as the country has signed up for many international treaties and development agendas, including Global Partnership for Effectiveness Development Co-operation and the Sustainable Development Goals. Lao PDR was among the earliest countries to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and integrate them into its Eighth National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) in 2016, with around 60 % of the 160 NSEDP indicators linked to the SDGs.
LAOS - Government approves strategic plan for legal sector
After several strategic planning exercises and thorough consultations with officers of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the five-year strategic plan (2021-2025) was finally approved by the ministry. The MoJ is now disseminating this strategic plan so that it can be carried out effectively by the justice ministry at the central, provincial and district levels.
Mr. Ketsana Phommachanh, DG of the Department of International Cooperation (right) and Mr. Khamphone Sipaseuth, Chief of Cabinet chaired the strategic planning exercise on 28 October 2019, © LuxDev
It must be restated that the Lao PDR is following the Legal Sector Master Plan (LSMP) which was officially adopted by the government on 11 September 2009 and which spells out the framework to develop and capacitate legal sector institutions as a foundation for the Rule of Law. The plan is supposed to end this year.
Mr Xaysi Santivong Minister of Justice chaired the disseminations of the new strategic plan of the MoJ with several senior officials, © LuxDev
Last year, the Support programme for legal teaching and training and to the promotion of the rule of law concept in Laos, LAO/031, extensively supported the MoJ to conduct strategic planning exercises: from developing the MoJ’s vision and mission statements, formulating its ethical standards, and identifying its strategic goals and objectives. To identify goals and objectives, the MoJ, through the Project, undertook several SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analyses, including the proper establishment of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) targets.
Group working at the technical workshop for MoJ staff on strategic planning exercises, © LuxDev
The MoJ is now widely and publicly disseminating this five-year (2021-2025) strategic plan which envisions the following goals, objectives and targets:
- to develop and amend at least 50 laws;
- to improve law dissemination networks using various forms and approaches to reflect real contexts;
- to promote legal awareness in society;
- to promote citizen engagement in law dissemination campaigns through television programmes (240 times); through radio programmes (840 times); and to conduct 15 local law dissemination campaigns each year;
- to publish 42,000 copies of legal and justice journals and 30,000 copies of laws;
- to foster and supervise judgement enforcement agencies across the country with the intent to enforce 50% of pending and new judgements, 20% of which should be successful enforcement with completion and file case closure;
- to complete the improvement of court notary work pending in 20 districts in order to meet social demands;
- To settle 80% of the total number of economic disputes, to strive to gradually upscale the Economic Dispute Settlement Center and transform it into a macro Economic Dispute Settlement Agency, to study and issue secondary legislation on economic dispute settlement under the Lao Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI);
- to foster the development of 10 model villages per district to reach the total number of 7,400 villages, and provide legal services through legal aid offices across the country to reach 200,000 users;
- to provide services through village mediation committees across the country in order to reduce the number of disputes to 15,000 cases;
- to provide five (5) sessions of professional trainings to 500 judges, prosecutors, lawyers, legal practitioners and law students;
- to provide 45-day trainings to 1,000 local staff to reach the total number of 5,000 staff member in five (5) years;
- to provide law studies to 500 first-degree students yearly to reach the total number of 2,500 students in five (5) years;
- to train 500 high-degree law students yearly to reach the total number of 2,500 students in five (5) years;
- to train 1,000 Master Degree in Law students to reach the total number of 5,000 students in five (5) years; and
- to provide short-term training to 200 staff of the justice sector yearly using the government's budget to come up with 1,000 staff members in five (5) years.
Participants at the technical workshop for MoJ staff on strategic planning exercises, © LuxDev
At this stage, the strategic plan can guide the MoJ and Project LAO/031 to draft the 2021 Annual Operational Plan, which in turn can inform various development partners on how they can align their support to the legal sector.
The Support programme for legal teaching and training and to the promotion of the rule of law concept in Laos, LAO/031, is funded by the Luxembourg Cooperation and implemented by LuxDev.
LAOS - New legal curricula introduced at the faculty of law
As part of the ongoing efforts of Project LAO/031, entitled “Support Project to Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos”, since 2017, a systemic and integrated approach to enhance the quality assurance of legal education in the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) at the National University of Laos (NUoL) has been underway.
In keeping with the FLP’s vision of becoming an excellent educational institution in human resource development in the fields of Law, Governance and International Relations, while fitting the changing needs at the domestic, regional and international levels; the Dean, Vice Deans, Division Heads, Heads of Departments and faculty members collaborated with two international and regional experts, Mr. Johnson Ong of the National University of Singapore and Dr. Ngoc Nguyen Thi, in reviewing and revising the curricula of the five (5) bachelor degree programmes, namely:
- International Relations;
- Business Law;
- Criminal Law;
- Civil Law; and
- Political Science.
The review and revision of the new curricula followed a series of capacity building workshops and consultations on outcome-based education, ASEAN University Network-Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) standards, stakeholders’ needs and analysis, self-assessment reports, internal quality assurance development and documentation and quality assurance assessment.
(insert Photo 2)
With regard to the bigger picture of legal development in the Lao PDR and the region, the curricula of the five bachelor degree programmes were revised, updated and implemented in the academic year 2019-2020 at the FLP. The new curricula took into consideration the ASEAN Qualification Reference Framework, the National Qualification Framework, AUN-QA standards and the various needs of the legal and labour market.
(insert photo 3)
One of the principle aspects of this process was the need to improve the programme learning outcomes, which are now based on four critical qualification domains including legal knowledge, practical skills, application and social attitude. The overall aim of the revised curricula was to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of higher education in the legal domain. Furthermore, it aims to facilitate both student and labour mobility within ASEAN and seeks to prepare the students and graduates for a new world that is being shaped by new technologies and globalisation.
To further ensure the sustenance of quality legal education at the Faculty of Law, continuous effort are being made to enhance and improve the quality standards of the law programmes and to prepare the faculty for AUN-QA certification in 2021.
(insert photo 4)
The Support programme for legal teaching and training and to the promotion of the rule of law concept in Laos, LAO/031, is funded by the Luxembourg Cooperation and implemented by LuxDev.
LAOS - Promoting the Rule of Law : Updates on Access to Justice
Project LAO/031 - Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Lao is strengthening the governance programme of Lao PDR, with the support of the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA). The Project assists the Government of Laos (GoL) to address key capacity and structural gaps that limit the effectiveness of the justice system and that inhibit inclusive participation in rule of law reform initiatives, legal education, law enforcement and access to justice.
While the rule of law in Laos is still in a fledgling state, the project has already attained significant milestones: Last year, the project was able to support the establishment of four (4) legal aid offices in the provinces of Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane; and this year, it is determined to complete the establishment of 15 district offices in five (5) targeted provinces: Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Vientiane, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane.
The project has improved access to justice for many marginalized community members through legal aid services, raising awareness on legal rights among nearly 17 915 people (this number includes views on social media post), and by building the capacity of a total of 3 622 participants at workshops, composed of legal practitioners, legal educators and key players in the government sector. Through ILSTA and their legal skills trainings, the project has enhanced the professional development of both women and men in the legal sector. The project significantly invested in improving the quality and reach of legal aid services to ensure justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.
In this vein, the project and its government partners are currently developing a legal aid “toolkit” to guide legal aid practitioners while a manual for the Village Mediation Committees (VMCs) is being drafted. In a training workshop on legal aid, Ms. Manichanh Chanthavilay, Officer of the Judicial Promotion System Department of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), responsible for the Legal Aid Programme, said that in Khammouane Province, legal aid has already been provided in 71 cases for its citizens, who in turn appreciated the free legal assistance for some vital and necessary legal matters, such as human trafficking and land disputes.
The Vice-Minister of Justice (MoJ), Bounsavard Boupha (left) and the CTA of LAO/031, Reginald M. Pastrana, presided one of the series of workshops aimed at developing the capacity of various MoJ officers.
The project has also promoted the rule of law, while supporting the judicial system to better serve and address the needs of its citizens. The project team worked alongside key government stakeholders to implement reforms, render technical assistance and capacity-development support to provincial legal aid offices. Among the reforms it supported were the legal awareness campaigns and institutionalization of the “Legal Aid Decree” (PM No. 77) and the amendments to the MoJ decree on Village Mediation Committees (VMC), which will become a Prime Minister Decree. Lately, the project is providing support to amend the court enforcement of cases.
The Vice-Minister of Justice, Bounsavard Boupha (right) and the CTA of LAO/031, Reginald M. Pastrana presided over public consultations with representatives from various provinces in the north on the proposed Village Mediation Committee Decree.
During a series of public consultations on the VMC Decree, H.E. Bounsavard Boupha, Vice Minister of Justice, stated that: “The VMC, amidst costly and protracted court trials and proceedings, can provide alternative fair justice to the people of Laos”. He stressed that this VMC Decree shall be patterned after ASEAN best practices by settling small disputes in a more transparent and fair system. As this has now developed, the VMC decree is now with the Office of the Prime Minister for adoption.
ILSTA, through its President, Richard Philippart, together with various government partners, chaired a seminar-workshop on the capacity development of Law Enforcement Authorities (LEA) and several government officials
Responding to the prevalence of human trafficking and money laundering, the project through cooperative efforts with ILSTA, conducted a seminar-workshop series on how to combat these crimes and how the Lao PDR can comply with its agreements with other countries under Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA).
LAOS - Assessor training workshop for programme assessment at the Faculty of Law and Political Science, National University of Laos
First Ever Assessor Training via Online Facilitation
The 3.5-day Assessor Training Workshop for Programme Assessment (Online) was held from 2 - 5 June 2020 and was jointly organised and hosted by Project LAO/031 - Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Lao and the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP), National University of Laos (NUoL). This forms part of the objective to uplift the quality of legal education in Lao PDR to ASEAN standards, based on the Quality Assurance Framework of the AUN-QA Network.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop was held at Donnokkhoum Campus with strict observation of social distancing and wearing of personal protective equipment (such as face shields and face masks) coupled with online facilitation platform. The workshop was presented by Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin, International Curriculum Development Specialist and Dr. Nguyen Thi My Ngoc, Regional Curriculum Development and Quality Specialist with Dr. Thanongsack Duangdala as the interpreter. It is the first ever assessor training held via online facilitation.
Online Facilitation with Social Distancing Measures
The Workshop Facilitators
Experiential Assessor Training
To equip participants with the strategic competencies to carry out quality assessment of study programmes based on the AUN-QA programme framework, the training workshop was designed to give the participants a hands-on experience following the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, with the key areas of training focusing on strategic competencies in desktop assessment, interviewing techniques, document reviews, and assessment report writing.
Participant Presenting and Sharing the Desktop Assessment
Stakeholder’s Interview - Role Play
The expected learning outcomes of the workshop encompassed:
- the principles of quality assessment;
- distinguishing between rules-based and principles-based quality assessment;
- demonstrating the competences to carry out the PDCA approach to study programme assessment; formulating questions;
- conducting desktop assessment for a study programme;
- conducting site assessment including stakeholders’ interviews, site tour and documentation review; and
- writing quality assessment feedback and report.
The workshop was graced and opened by the Vice Dean, Assoc. Prof. Bounthieng Phommachanh, with the active participation of 30 participants and 11 observers including the Dean, Vice-Deans, heads and faculty members and staff of administrative offices from the FLP and NUOL.
Recommendations for Further Improvements
During the workshop, some key issues were raised by the participants and the project experts, including the need to review and update the current vision and mission of the faculty to keep in alignment with NUoL and with the future timeframe beyond 2020. The elements of the vision, mission and educational philosophy are to be better aligned to the expected learning outcomes (ELOs) of the study programme. The definition of the category of knowledge, application, and skills for the ELOs need to be made clearer to ensure that there is no overlap and ambiguity between them. Besides, the faculty needs to have a policy to determine full-time equivalent (FTE) of academic staff so that the manpower resources needed for each study programme can be accurately accounted for. Tracer studies for graduates and benchmarking of outputs (pass rates, drop-out rates, employability, average time to graduate, research, stakeholder’s satisfaction) within and outside FLP need to be carried out in seeking best practices for continuous improvement.
On the final day of the training, the workshop ended with an encouraging closing speech by the Dean of FLP, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Viengvilay Thiengchanxay, after the presentation of certificates.
Building a Pool of Internal Quality Assessors
With the completion of the assessor training, FLP and NUoL have nurtured a pool of internal quality assessors to carry out self-assessment of their study programmes within the university and faculty. This capacity development exercise strengthens and enhances the capability of FLP and NUOL in quality assurance.
Dean of the FLP, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Viengvilay Thiengchanxay
LAOS - E-Library at Faculty of Law and Political ScienceGreater access to electronic resources for the National University of Laos
In a joint undertaking with the University of Luxembourg, the Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos, Project LAO/031, has successfully worked with the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) and the organisation Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) to set up an initial electronic library (E-Library). As a result, faculty members and students connected to the FLP’s Wi-Fi – and soon the Wi-Fi of the other faculties of the National University of Laos (NUoL) – are able to access a range of e-resources and journal articles from digital libraries and databases such as JSTOR, HeinOnline and Taylor & Francis.
In a first step, LAO/031 hired the services of an IT company to increase the network bandwidth at the FLP. This created the conditions for the University of Luxembourg to sign an agreement with EIFL, who in turn provided access to e-resources and an anti-plagiarism software, URKUND, for the National University of Laos as an institution. More specifically, as part of this agreement, access is granted to the external IP addresses of NUoL and its faculties.
Ms. Rima Kupryte, Managing Director of EIFL, visited the FLP and NUoL’s Central Library on 24th and 25th of February, where, together with representatives from the University of Luxembourg and LAO/031, she met with a range of stakeholders and the Vice-President of NUoL, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oudom Phonekhampheng. The purpose of her visit was two-fold: First, to promote this initiative, and second, to organise future trainings with librarians and faculty members on the use and management of the e-library and the institutional repository.
While both the e-library and the institutional repository will need to be developed further, the multidisciplinary electronic databases can already be accessed at the FLP. This is an important step in the improvement of higher education standards at the FLP, as it allows faculty members and students to access the knowledge they need for their academic research.
The Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos, Project LAO/031, is implemented by LuxDev and funded by the Luxembourg Development Cooperation.
LAOS – “Law and Development from the Lao PDR’s Perspective”Second Annual Legal Research Forum held at the Faculty of Law and Political Science
The second Annual Legal Research Forum took place on 19 December 2019 at the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos (NUoL), with the support of the Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos (Project LAO/031) and the University of Luxembourg.
The forum was attended by Prof. Dr. Somsy Gnophanxay, President of NUoL, and Assoc. Prof. Viengvilay Thiengchanxay, Dean of the FLP, as well as a number of legal practitioners, academics, students and members from various organisations and the public.
This year’s edition was held under the theme of “Law and Development from the Lao PDR’s Perspective” and included presentations on topics such as tax law, administrative responsibility for water pollution, minimum flows of rivers, labour laws, and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Lao PDR. The majority of presenters were faculty members of the FLP, with the event providing an open space for the discussion of ideas and recommendations on how the rule of law can contribute towards the development of the Lao PDR. Additionally, it allowed FLP researchers, some of whom have recently completed their doctoral studies abroad, to present the results of their research.
The forum was the result of the collaboration between the FLP, Project LAO/031 and the University of Luxembourg. The University of Luxembourg specifically provided its expertise at the event by sending doctoral researcher Mr. Andrii Hubai to present on the investment protection system and the mechanism of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).
The forum complemented a recent conference on different perspectives on good governance and the rule of law, organised by the EU and UNDP. Both initiatives also served as a platform to revisit the progress made under the Legal Sector Master Plan (LSMP), which was adopted in 2009 with the goal of establishing a rule of law state by 2020.
LAOS - 2019 accomplishments are ratified and 2020 plan is approved.
During the Steering Committee of the Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos, LAO/031, chaired by Mrs. Khanthaly Siriphongphanh, Vice Minister of Education and Sports, Mr. Bounsavard Boupha, Vice Minister of Justice, and co-chaired by Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg in Lao PDR, it was noted that the LAO/031 project had made great progress over the course of 2019.
The meeting took place on 28 November 2019 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Its most notable achievements are:
- the establishment of four (4) legal aid offices in various provinces; and
- the project contribution towards increasing awareness on legal issues and the rule of law via the production of technical guides and the dissemination of the newly established Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Law for legal practitioners.
Mr. Boupha stated that these accomplishments put the project’s activities in the right direction and that these are aligned with the priorities of the Ministry of Justice and the Lao PDR’s efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16.
The Project Steering Committee also:
- considered strategic decisions with regard to the implementation of the project;
- reviewed project performance; and
- validated and endorsed the annual work plan as well as other resolutions required for the smooth running of the project.
For the next year, the PSC stated that Project LAO/031 will continue with the activities carried out in 2019, but will put further emphasis on the Faculty of Law and Political Science’s target to attain ASEAN University Network Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) standards by the end of the project in 2022.
With the project’s Mid-Term Evaluation planned for early 2020, both Mrs. Siriphongphanh and Mr. Schreiner commended the project for its work and the high number of beneficiaries that have already benefitted from the numerous capacity building workshops organised by the project.
The LAO/031 project is financed by the Luxembourg Cooperation and implemented by LuxDev the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - A further step towards ensuring equal access to justice for allLegal Aid offices launched in Bokeo and Luang Namtha Provinces
Project LAO/031 has now supported the establishment of four legal aid offices in various provinces.
In the presence of his H.E. Bounsavath Boupha, Vice-Minister of Justice, two new Legal Aid offices were opened in Laos’ northern provinces of Bokeo and Luang Namtha, with the support of Project LAO/031 - Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos.
Legal Aid offices support the poor and marginalised sectors of society by providing free legal information and advice, and in some cases, legal representation. The provision of such a service requires not only a designated office space with modern equipment, but also skilled lawyers and civil servants who have legal expertise and are familiar with relevant laws. As such, LAO/031 also provides support for the training of officers and for the dissemination of the Decree on Legal Aid and its implementation.
Moreover, under Lao law, lawyers of the Lao Bar are required to carry out 40 hours of pro bono legal aid work.
While the project is bound to support the Ministry of Justice’s efforts to set up further legal aid offices, it must be noted that the official opening of an office is just a first step. Citizens must now be made aware of the existence and concept of legal aid offices.
Staff from the Ministry of Justice learn about the procedures of providing legal aid services to users.
LAOS - Minister Lenert and Delegation visit the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the National University
© LuxDev 2019
H. E. Paulette Lenert, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, together with a delegation comprising Members of Parliament and Representatives from LuxDev and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, officially visited the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the National University of Laos (NUoL) on Tuesday 10th September 2019.
The event was attended by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kongsy Sengmany, Vice-Minister of Education and Sports, Prof. Dr. Somsy Gnophanxay, President of NUoL, development partners, and more than 150 faculty members and students.
In her speech, Minister Lenert stated that the rule of law is a necessary precondition for a peaceful order and prosperity. “All Sustainable Development Goals can only be reached if there is a responsible exercise of power and redistribution of wealth”, she explained. The Minister also underlined the importance of education, which is a pillar of the Lao Legal Sector Master Plan and key in fostering a strong legal culture.
© LuxDev 2019
The Minister added that, while Lao PDR has made steady progress towards the Rule of Law, important challenges remain, especially with regard to improving legal awareness and access to laws and academic legal sources.
© LuxDev 2019
The speech was followed by a question & answer session with faculty members and students, and a role-play presentation led by students on the topic of gender-based violence, which is periodically organised by the Clinical Legal Education Centre with the aim of improving awareness on important legal issues throughout the country.
© LuxDev 2019
The event took place in the context of the Minister’s wider visit to Luxembourg-funded projects in Laos. The Faculty of Law and Political Science is supported by three Luxembourg actors, namely LuxDev Project Lao/031, the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA), and the University of Luxembourg.
© LuxDev 2019
Laos has been a partner country for Luxembourg’s development cooperation since 1997. Luxembourg development cooperation has been supporting legal education in Laos for the past ten years, with Minister Lenert recently reaffirming Luxembourg’s long-standing commitment to supporting good governance in Laos.
© LuxDev 2019
LAOS - Mid-Year Review and Technical Coordination Committee Meeting
On 17th July 2019, Project LAO/031 titled ‘Legal Teaching and Training and Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Lao PDR’ held its Mid-Year Review and Technical Coordination Committee Meeting. The Mid-Year Review provides an opportunity for the project and its stakeholders to review the performance and activities of the project over the last 6 months, as well as to agree plans for the rest of the year. Among the 2019 accomplishments, Project LAO/031 can count a high number of trainings carried out for civil servants, legal practitioners, and faculty members of higher education institutions. Furthermore, with the project now supporting the opening of Legal Aid Offices and trainings for Village Mediation Committees, it is ensuring that the poor and marginalized sectors of society are gaining increased access to justice.
From the comments raised at the Mid-Year Review, it became clear that there is an increasing demand for the project’s implementing partner, Institute of Legal Support and Technical Assistance, to expand its ‘English for Law’ programme. With the Mid-Term Evaluation of the project coming up at the start of 2020, the project is continuously aiming to increase its performance in order to reach this year’s targets.
LAOS - Khammouane Legal Aid Office Praised
H.E. Bounsavath Boupha, Vice Minister of Justice (fourth from the right), in the presence of various justice officials, members of the Lao Bar Association, district heads of Khammouane Province of the Ministry of Justice and the CTA of LuxDev LAO/031, formally opens the Legal Aid Office.
On the 25th March 2019, under the auspices of Project LAO/031, a high-ranking justice ministry official lauded the launching of a legal aid office in Khammouane, stating that it will improve and ensure effective access to justice for vulnerable and marginalized groups in the province. Vice Minister of Justice H.E. Bounsavath Boupha also expressed his gratitude that the legal aid office was established in Khammouane where the first trainings on good practices and legal aid implementation guidelines will be provided to Justice Officers from 10 districts.
In 2018, the government of Laos issued a decree that adopts and spells out procedures for the implementation of legal aid programmes. Consequently, LAO/031 aims to establish at least one (1) legal aid office every year in the provinces identified in the Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP) between the Government of Laos and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg.
Reginald M. Pastrana, LuxDev Chief Technical Advisor of LAO/031, emphasized that the establishment of a legal aid office is only the start and that the project would provide further trainings to support these structures moving forward. Furthermore, trainings will also be delivered by volunteers the Lao Bar Association (LBA) who have committed to providing pro bono legal aid services to eligible beneficiaries. These include poor and vulnerable groups, people with disabilities and vulnerable children, among others. Legal Aid generally involves the provision of information, consultations, and court or trial representatives
Vice Minister of Justice Boupha also took note of the ambitious goal of the Ministry of Justice to have one legal aid office unit in every district administration office. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the Project LAO/031 in expressing its support in setting up at least four (4) legal aid offices and providing capacity building trainings to the legal staffs who will be maintaining these offices.
After the launch of the legal aid office, Mr. Pastrana, together with various government resource persons, conducted lectures and capacity development workshops for staff of the new legal aid office. It is expected that this provincial legal aid office will help people overcome legal issues, involving land disputes, family issues, sexual violence, victims of injustices and other legal problems afflicting the local population. Combined with the planned activities on raising legal awareness and providing training to Village Mediation Committees, LAO/031 aims to ensure that access to justice is inclusive and supported at the grassroots level.
LAOS - Training Programme on International Law and Human RightsThe four-day training strengthened university lecturers’ knowledge of International Law
The first of two training workshops on International Law and Human Rights took place in Savannakhet from 8 – 11 January 2019. The activity, jointly supported by the European Union’s Citizens’ Engagement for Good Governance and Accountability (EU-CEGGA) Programme and LuxDev LAO/031 project in coordination with the Department of Treaty and Law (DTL) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos, aims to consolidate and complement the legal knowledge of lecturers from the FLP, the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of Champasak University, and Savannakhet University.
Opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Bounkhong Phetdaohoung, Head of the International Relations Department of the FLP, Mrs. Viengvone Kittavong, Deputy Director General of DTL, Mr. Bryan Fornari, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the EU to Lao PDR, and Mr. Reginald Pastrana, Chief Technical Advisor of LAO/031. During four days, the participants benefited from an interactive training on international law - how it evolved and developed, its sources and especially its relationship with domestic law. Other insightful topics taken up involved jurisdiction and sovereignty, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and the role of the United Nations and regional organisations in shaping international law. A core subject of discussion throughout the workshop was the application and adoption of international law and obligations into Lao law.
Two resource people from the DTL presented the final two topics. One presenter was Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, a human rights expert, a practicing lawyer and a Member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka who has previously worked in Lao PDR. He presented a number of legal jurisprudence cases from his native country. Dr. Jayampathy encouraged the active involvement of the participants and recommended that they use their existing expertise in specialised subjects.
The training also fulfilled the lecturers’ different needs:
- it provided them an opportunity to consolidate their knowledge of law;
- answered their specific areas of interest and removed doubts; and
- learned them legal concepts in English.
By engaging local experts in the DTL, and by targeting lecturers as beneficiaries, it is hoped that this activity will promote sustainable results and provide knowledge that the teachers could apply and share in their own lectures.
This activity marks the developing coordination between LAO/031 and the EU-CEGGA programme. Further cooperation is taking place with regard to the sourcing of books for the FLP Library. It was announced that the second training workshop will be scheduled later this year.
LAOS - Promoting Research in Support of the Rule of LawFirst-ever National Legal Research Forum takes place at the Faculty of Law and Political Science
The National Legal Research Forum, organised by the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) with the support of Project LAO/031, took place on the 19th December in Vientiane with the aim of creating a platform for the discussion of legal issues and for the free exchange of ideas among academics and researchers.
In the context of Lao PDR’s ambition to implement its Legal Sector Master Plan (LSMP) and 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP), which would see the country graduate from Least Development Country (LDC) status and become a state fully governed by the rule of law by 2020, legal research and expertise continue to play an important role in shaping legislation and in informing strategic decisions.
For these reasons, the National Legal Research Forum, which is the first of its kind, was a welcome and timely event. Participants included students, teachers, researchers, and other professionals from institutions encompassing the National University of Laos (NuOL), the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of Champasak University, the National Institute of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the University of Luxembourg.
The opening speeches on the Research Policy of the NuOL and the Relevancy of Research in the Promotion of the Rule of Law were given by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Somchanh Bounphanmy, Vice President of NuOL, and Mr. Reginald Pastrana, CTA of LAO/031, respectively. Over the course of the day, 18 researchers presented on various topics, including the village settlement resolution dispute, the death penalty, judgments on road accidents, ASEAN-EU cooperation on human rights concerns, and many others.
With the presentation and the initiation of discussions on such pertinent topics for Lao society, the main objective of the forum was to highlight legal issues and the suitability of legislation, which can act as a feedback mechanism for the Lao government and its law drafters. Moreover, the forum allowed FLP and NuOL members to present the results of their recent studies and will encourage other scholars to carry out new research.
Nine exhibition stands were also set up, displaying the manuals and materials from Project LAO/031, the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA), the Clinical Legal Education (CLE), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and others. All these initiatives have contributed towards improving research capacity and fostering a research environment at the faculty. Notwithstanding, no one is resting on their laurels; the objective for next year’s edition is to expand and render it international by inviting guest lecturers from abroad.
LAOS - Rule of law and legal education programmes gain momentum
Legal education and rule of law programmes have gained significant accomplishments in 2018. During the second Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting of LuxDev LAO/031 held on 18 December 2018, a 5-year project of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Government of Lao PDR; major accomplishments have been achieved on the rule of law and the improvement of the legal education.
On the rule of law as per report of the Institute of Legal Studies and Technical Assistance (ILSTA), the implementing partner of LAO/031, thousands of key stakeholders in the legal sector received legal training workshops and public lectures. Likewise, 426 government officials were trained on English proficiency, 10 court assessments, 101 judges’ assessments, 96 prosecutors’ assessments, 245 anti-money laundering assessments and 301 anti-corruption assessments.
On the development of legal education, LAO/031 has reported that 324 legal educators were trained on various teaching skills, research design and methodology, etc. The project has also completed all the necessary assessments for the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) and the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of the Champassak University-paving the way of developing to the next level of new legal curricula and elevating the said faculties towards higher quality assurance (QA) standards.
During its recent annual review, the PSC approved the project 2018 Annual Work Plan and the 2019 Annual Operational Plan. The PSC that was just conducted were chaired by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Khamphay Sisavanh, Vice Minister of Education and Sports, H.E. Mr. Bounsavad Boupha, Vice Minister of Justice, and co-chaired by Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d´Affaires of the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
LAOS - Thumbs up for full scale legal curriculum development and Quality Assurance standards
Dean, Vice-Deans, Heads of various departments and faculty members of the FLP of the National University of Laos posted for a souvenir photo after receiving their certificates on QA workshop
Legal curriculum and Quality Assurance (QA) standards are the foundations of high quality legal education.
At present, legal education in the Lao PDR is still catching up with international and ASEAN standards. While the National University of Laos (NUoL) is already a member of the ASEAN University Network (AUN), it has yet to receive its accreditation and must continue improving its standards set by the AUN QA framework for higher education. The standard uses scoring system from 1 (poor) to 7 (excellent). Over the next 4 years, FPL aims to reach score 4 (“Adequate as Expected”). The AUN is an agreement between 30 universities in the ten ASEAN member countries which as part of its responsibilities actively promotes quality assurance in higher education institutions, raises the quality of higher education and encourages collaboration with both regional and international bodies for the benefit of the ASEAN community.
The Luxembourg Cooperation, through the project LAO/031, seeks to improve legal education and is committed to scaling up QA standards and supporting the continued development of the higher legal education programme in Laos.
How to achieve this important goal? In collaboration with the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos (NUoL), LAO/031 has supported the ongoing curricula assessment and evaluation process for all of FLP’s departments. This has included trainings, seminars and workshops on curriculum development, benchmarking of ASEAN standards and QA awareness raising workshops. Most recently, the project supported a three-day workshop on the ASEAN University Network (AUN) and Quality Assurance Programme Framework in Vientiane Capital from 14 – 16 November 2018.
The workshop hired the services and expertise of Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin, a high level expert from the AUN and the National University of Singapore (NUS), to validate the assessments and provide trainings on curriculum development and QA standards. The three-day workshop was chaired by Dean Viengvilay Thiengchanhxay of the FLP, co-chaired by the CTA of LAO/031, and attended by the Vice-Deans, Heads and faculty members of all FLP departments.
Thanks to this eye-opening and informative three-day workshop, the various curriculum assessments were validated by an expert and the thumbs-up was given to the new training programs. It was agreed that the new curriculum and the QA will be implemented during the project life cycle.
Two significant points must be stressed: (1) the improvement of legal curriculum is a giant step towards laying the foundations for a strong legal education institution, and (2) the QA shall set the milestones for higher legal education standards in Lao PDR. Once these mechanisms are fully institutionalized within the FLP, the next goal would be to share and replicate them in other legal learning institutions in Laos, including the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of Champassak University and other law universities in Laos.
Moving forward, LAO/031 will seek to build on the assessments and evaluations that effectively helped to benchmark standards and will also continue to collaborate with an international curriculum expert in targeting 5 academic programmes by the end of the project (or one per year). Regarding QA, the ultimate objective is to graduate to score 4 AUN QA standards by 2022.
LAOS - Legal skills development in Northern Institute of Justice
On 10-13 July, the Project LAO/031 conducted the seminar-workshop on conducting legal research. The workshop focused on basic legal research, research methodology and the drafting and presentation of a research proposal. The seminar aimed to train teachers and other legal educators from the Northern Institute of Justice in Luang Prabang, the northern branch of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) whose primary role is to educate and provide future lawyers, prosecutors and judges with the necessary theoretical and practical skills necessary for their legal, prosecutorial and judicial duties.
NIJ is an administrative agency offers both formal (diploma level) and non-formal legal education programmes in Laos. NIJ plays an important role in providing practical hands-on, simulation case learning for newly graduated lawyers and legal practitioners in the country.
Legal educators at the National Institute of Justice in Luang Prabang doing group work on research proposals and legal analysis.
This three-day workshop was led by Reginald M. Pastrana, Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) of LAO/031, supported by the project team and a few NIJ and Northern Institute of Justice faculty members. The seminar was chaired by the Deputy Director General of the NIJ and attended by the various deputy director generals and faculty members of the Northern Institute of Justice.
Reginald M. Pastrana, CTA for LAO/031 delivers lectures on the nature and concept of legal research
The training modules focused on theoretical and practical exercises on the mechanics and dynamics of research. The theoretical approach was driven by various lectures on the essentials of research dynamics, processes, tools, techniques and methodologies. The practical exercises focused not only on how to conduct legal research and analysis but also on the preparations and understanding required to reach that stage.
The teaching method was interactive (learning by doing) and furthered the professional development of 37 teachers and trainers of the Northern Institute of Justice and the NIJ.
Dr. Viengphet Zengsongyialorfaijong, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice (center) poses with Reginald M. Pastrana, CTA, Asso. Prof. Bounthieng Phommachanh, Vice Dean of the FLP of the NUoL, Asso. Prof. Vixay Sihapanya, Head of Civil Law Department of the FLP and the participants composing the NIJ and legal educators of the Northern Institute of Justice during their photo session
At the end of the seminar-workshop, Dr. Viengphet Zengsongyialorfaijong, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice, stated that he was satisfied with the success of this activity. As the first activity to enrich the legal research skills of the legal educators in the Northern Institute of Justice, he said that the seminar-workshop was a positive step in a continuing process of improving and strengthening the knowledge and legal skills of law practitioners, teachers and students in the country.
Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs visited the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the National University of Laos
His Excellency, Mr. Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, arrived at the campus of the National University of Laos on June 13, 2018, amidst an enthusiastic and cheering crowd of students of the FLP.
Prof. Dr. Somsy Gnophanxay, President of the National University of Laos, and Associate Prof. Viengvilay Thiengchanhxay, Dean of the university’s Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP), led the welcoming committee in warmly receiving the Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Gnophanxay, in his introductory remarks, announced that Minister Asselborn’s visit was serendipitous as it came at a time “when the entire Lao people are joyfully celebrating many special occasions, namely: the 43rd anniversary of the proclamation of the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic and the 21st anniversary of diplomatic relations between Laos and Luxembourg”. He also acknowledged that Luxembourg has provided more than 50 million Euros to support the health, rural development, vocational education and governance sectors of Lao PDR.
He stated that Luxembourg has been working on increasing cooperation with the Lao people, as evidenced by the official launch of the Luxembourg Embassy and the LuxDev regional office in Vientiane in 2016 and the establishment of a project office for LAO/031 at the Faculty of Law and Political Science – “The Luxembourg funded project LAO/031 which will run from 2017 to 2022 has been designed to support legal training and teaching and promote the rule of law in the Lao PDR. This project continues and expands on LAO/023 which was implemented between 2010 and 2015”
It’s important to note that in order to achieve the overall objective of promoting the rule of law in the Lao PDR, the project will focus on developing legal institutions, upgrading standards and improving the enabling legal environment. The project is currently developing the legal research capacity of teachers and supporting the development of an adapted law curriculum.
During an open forum with the students of the FLP, Minister Asselborn was asked by students of varied questions involving foreign policy issues, such as the future of the LAO PDR-Luxembourg relations, the problem of international terrorism and rule of law, and the lessons learned in EU integration vis-à-vis ASEAN Economic Community. To their delight, the Luxembourg Foreign Minister always answered the issues raised within the context of what he said were sound foreign policies of Luxembourg. On one question, the Foreign Minister said that there is a need to promote the rule of law and respect for the human rights in order that Lao PDR can sustain peace and promote more prosperity.
The visit was witnessed by the Vice-Presidents of NUOL, the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science, the Head of International Relations Department, representatives from Ministry of Education and Sports, representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vice-Deans, Heads of Department, Divisions, university members, members of the diplomatic corps, Olivier Hecquet, Resident Representative of LuxDev - Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, representatives from the Institute of Legal Studies and Technical Assistance (ILSTA), the team members of LuxDev Project LAO/031, headed by its Chief Technical Adviser, Reginald M. Pastrana, students and other guests.
Legal Research Plays Significant Role in Legal Development and Promotion of the Rule of Law in the Lao PDR
As new laws are being adopted by the Lao National Assembly and the various People’s Provincial Assemblies, including administrative decrees, the need to study, interpret and apply these new laws to effectively protect the rights of citizens and promote the rule of law, has never been greater. Thus, project LAO/031 was launched to improve the quality of legal education, strengthen the capacity of legal sector stakeholders and raise awareness on access to justice.
Delivering the basic legal research training certificates for FLA faculty members
Project LAO/031 emphasizes the improvement of legal research skills among teachers of the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos (NUoL), the teachers of the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of the Champassak University and legal practitioners as a first step in strengthening the capacity of legal sector stakeholders. The project has conducted a series of seminars/workshops on basic legal research with teachers of the FLP and FLA.
The CTA of Project LAO/031, Reginald M. Pastrana, conducting a lecture on basic legal research with various faculty members of the FLA, National University of Laos in Vang Vieng district
The basic legal research seminar workshops have further increased legal sector knowledge of NUoL and Champassak University faculty members and have played an important role in fine tuning their teaching skills as well as supporting them in course development and academic research.
More specifically, faculty members were better able to take advantage of the various research methodologies to develop research proposals. These improved research skills paved the way for a clearer understanding of the inner workings of the law, notably in terms of enabling faculty members to carry out the necessary readings on how laws are made and imparting this knowledge to their students. As aptly stated by Champassak University faculty member – “It is the first time we have had a legal research training programme in our university and for this I’m very thankful. With this new skill, I now have the capacity to search out many laws and determine which are the most appropriate to the needs of our students”.
The Dean of the FLA of Champassak University, faculty members and the CTA of LuxDev LAO/031, Reginald M. Pastrana, posing for a souvenir photo at Moung Khong, Champassak during their seminar workshop on basic legal research
Laos - Curriculum Development on Legal Education takes off in the Lao PDR
Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) is a sovereign country which adopted its first Constitution in 1991. Several constitutional amendments were introduced thereafter which fostered big improvements in the LAO PDR’s fledgling legal system, particularly in the rule of law, prominent of which is the crafting of the Legal Sector Master Plan (LSMP), the framework for developing effective institutions in the legal sector of the Lao PDR as a foundation for rule of law.
The new Constitution also gave birth to the Lao PDR National Assembly (NA), which has evolved into a great institution of government in shaping laws. To comply with the mandates provided in the LSMP, the NA played a critical role in introducing legislations to promote the rule of law. Notwithstanding significant institutional structures set up by the NA, numerous areas on legal development for the promotion of rule of law must still take the centre stage.
According to the 2015 UNDP Public Justice Survey Report, implementation of law is still seen as being weak. Different stakeholders observed that the lack of budget for enforcement, apathy in non-enforcement and a lack of knowledge on laws, contribute to the weak implementation of laws. Moreover, customary law rather than the formal law is still followed in many cases.
Indeed, among the legal profession, the necessary expertise for laws, legal concepts and judicial processes need to be consolidated and strengthened from the base. There is insufficient number of law professions with adequate expertise. Training opportunities are rare, mostly conceived on an ad hoc basis and not adapted for law professionals. They also tend to focus on specific technical areas identified by donors according to a global thematic agenda. The lack of tailored projects has prevented until now the badly needed implementation of general basic legal training.
It is in this light that LAO/031, a Laos-Luxembourg cooperation project under the auspices of the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency (LuxDev), and a follow up to its predecessor LAO/023, was initiated. Its purpose: “The Support Project to Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Lao PDR”.
To attain this, LAO/031 gives priority attention to the improvement of the curriculum in legal education in Lao PDR to come up with the current global trends and ASEAN standards.
Thus in March 2018, the project formally kicked off to formulate various strategies and processes that would pave the way for the improvement of the law curriculum in the two law schools in Laos: the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) of the National University of Laos (NUoL); and the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA) of Champassak University.
In the Faculty of Law and Political Science, LAO/031 launched its curriculum development through a three-day seminar-workshop, from March 15-17, 2018. LuxDev Chief Technical Advisor (CTA) Reginald Pastrana delivered significant lectures on the various core subjects in law among ASEAN universities. He also conducted important discourses on several procedural steps, procedures and strategic initiatives for taking the various ways on curriculum development in legal education.
In addition, project LAO/031 was even extended to the southern part of Laos: to the Champassak University. During the courtesy visit of the Dean of the FLP of NUoL and the CTA of LAO/031 in March 2018, the Acting President and the Dean of the FLA of Champassak University were very delighted for this support. Indeed, the Champassak University was willing to receive such support and to lend their hands for the success of project LAO/031.
It must be pointed out that promoting the rule of law through legal education should not be underrated, for the need to support legal education is always a highly relevant rule-of-law project. Project LAO/031, through its vital component of improving the legal curriculum in Lao PDR, is a significant step towards realising the promotion of rule of law in this country.