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Judicial Education Program

Since its first program in 1991, ELI has developed, presented, and participated in educational workshops on critical topics in environmental law for more than 2500 judges from 27 countries. ELI works closely with the judiciary and with local partners to develop educational programs and materials that meet the specific needs of the locality.  

This past summer, ELI, in partnership with the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), conducted a judicial capacity-building project in Indonesia supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation to help judges become strong players in the fight against deforestation and the path toward sustainable development. 

Watch: Enabling the Indonesian Judiciary to Stop Illegal Deforestations

Our courses incorporate the latest advances in legal, scientific, public health, and economic thought, and allow interactive analysis by participants and faculty. ELI and its partners in judicial education develop environmental law manuals that serve as resources to the judiciary after the training has been completed. In collaboration with the University of New Mexico, ELI also developed a handbook for state judicial educators to use in developing training for judges, and distributed the manual to all 50 states. As an example, ELI is reducing deforestation in Indonesia through building the capacity of the judiciary to better understand and address the liability for environmental damages.

ELI established its Judicial Education Program in 1991 in response to a challenge by Judge James L. Oakes, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to close a gap in judges’ knowledge by educating them about environmental law. This challenge was reiterated in August 2002, when Supreme Court judges from more than 50 countries met at the Global Judges Symposium on Sustainable Development and the Role of Law in Johannesburg, South Africa. The judges concluded that “the deficiency in the knowledge, relevant skills and information in regard to environmental law is one of the principal causes that contribute to the lack of effective implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law.” The judges also stated that there was an “urgent need to strengthen the capacity of judges, prosecutors, legislators and all persons who play a critical role at national level in the process of implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law.” In June 2012, the World Congress on Justice, Governance, and Law for Environmental Sustainability adopted the Rio+20 Declaration on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, which included: “States should cooperate to build and support the capacity of courts and tribunals as well as prosecutors, auditors and other related stakeholders . . . to implement environmental law, and to facilitate exchanges of best practices in order to achieve environmental sustainability by encouraging relevant institutions, such as judicial institutes, to provide continued education.” For decades, ELI’s Judicial Education Program has been working with judges throughout the world to meet this need.

Watch: An Introduction to the Judicial Education Program by John Pendergrass

For further information, contact Alejandra Rabasa.