Advancing the rule of law through collaborative partnerships and innovation

31 March 2023 12:04

Veronica Rios
LexisNexis Director, Global Associations & Strategic Partnerships

Advancing the rule of law is LexisNexis’ global mission. Upon joining the business over a decade ago, I remember being inducted into this idea that our mission as a business was to advance the rule of law in our day-to-day work, and while this could have easily just been a corporate tagline, what sets us apart from others is the very real and true commitment, support, and dedication from across all areas of our business towards advancing the rule of law. Reflecting on our work over the past decade in this space, the rule of law efforts and projects have been driven by our people, from the ground up, grown from ideas, connections and opportunities into projects that leverage our skills and resources to strengthen the rule of law.

The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index is one of the most comprehensive bodies of work on the topic of rule of law. It surveys and documents more than 154,000 households and 3,600 legal practitioners and expert individuals from 140 countries to understand a country’s adherence to 44 rule of law indicators including constraints on government power, fundamental rights, regulatory enforcement, and civil and criminal justice. In the past 5 years, the index has shown a significant decline in the rule of law around the world. The impact of COVID-19 accelerated this decline with many countries seeing negative declines in constraints to government powers, suggesting less accountability and weakened checks and balances, timeliness in civil, criminal, and administrative justice procedures and absence of discrimination. This year’s index reported that the rule of law in 61% of countries had weakened indicating that 4.4 billion people currently live in a country where the rule of law is declining.

A few years ago, LexisNexis developed the Rule of Law Impact Tracker which correlated data across the World Bank, the World Justice Project and Transparency International to look at the relationship between the rule of law and social and economic development. The tracker drew relationships between the rule of law and strong economic indicators and indicated that countries with a lower rule of law index often have instability or lack of trust in their legal system and with such instability, economic growth can become stagnant. As a result, investment doesn’t take place, because individuals and businesses do not feel protected. The rule of law is a critical factor which businesses consider when deciding where to invest and expand operations because the rule of law provides a legal foundation for conducting business in a reliable and predictable manner. It promotes economic investment by increasing the protection of property rights and contracts. It allows for the timely and predictable resolution of disputes, lowers levels of corruption and bribery, and ensures the legal identity of individuals and organizations, providing greater security.

So how can businesses like LexisNexis support this cycle of stronger rule of law, increased investment, and economic and social advancement? LexisNexis can leverage our core skills and resources to create real change in the world. As an experienced provider of legal content and technology, we harnessed our skills, expertise and most importantly, the passion of our people to advance the rule of law.

This year we continue to deploy of our core skills across the Pacific Islands through legislation consolidation and publication ensuring accurate and timely access to legal information. We collaborate with our partners across the Pacific Islands of Fiji, Nauru, and Cook Islands. Much of this work had to continue through COVID – completely remotely. Our teams were unable to travel to the Pacific Islands and we quickly became aware of the challenges faced by the Pacific Islands impacting their basic rights. Lack of reliable remote services impacting the ability to communicate or provide basic and critical health services impacted the local communities.

We were fortunate to be able to continue our work with Fiji, Nauru, and the Cook Islands and while there were unavoidable delays and work arounds, the local teams and our editorial teams were able to continue and have now been able to progress our rule of law projects again, with visits to Fiji and the Cook Islands a few months ago.

LexisNexis also utilizes our wide portfolio of tech and solutions to support the meaningful work of others to advance the rule of law. Back in 2009, a UK television broadcaster aired documentary on the Sri Lankan killing fields. As part of the documentary video footage was taken on a mobile phone by a Sri Lankan solider which appeared to show the execution of a captured Tamil fighter. The footage was dismissed by the Government as fake, however, later the United Nations concluded that the video was authentic. No action or charges were able to take place as the footage did not meet the required evidentiary standards and could not be used.

As a result of this, the International Bar Association set out to find a way to stop this from happening again and developed the EyeWitness to Atrocities app which can verify images and data, so they are admissible as evidence in court of law. The app uses technology to prove photos have not been altered by securely logging information around pixel configuration, time, date, and location of where the image was captured then completely wiping all traces of it from the person’s phone. LexisNexis provides the servers in which this data is all captured as we wanted to support the development of such an important application. Evidence collected from the Eyewitness app, has been successfully submitted into several cases heard at the International Criminal Court. Data captured on Eyewitness to Atrocities has increased following the conflict in the Ukraine and other parts of the world.
The work to advance the rule of law will never be done and through collaborative partnerships and innovation, LexisNexis continues to leverage our resources and our people’s dedication and commitment to the cause to protect and support the rule of law.

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