(Washington, D.C.): Since our first Judicial Education Program in 1990, ELI has developed, presented, and participated in educational workshops on critical topics in environmental law for more than 2,500 judges from 28 countries. Throughout the month of August, ELI will be taking a closer look at “The Courts & Rule of Law” as we continue to offer special events, programs, and publications in commemoration of our 50th Anniversary.
Earlier this year, ELI and UN Environment released the First Global Report on the Environmental Rule of Law, which finds that despite prolific growth in environmental laws and agencies worldwide over the last four decades, weak enforcement is a global trend that is exacerbating environmental threats. One of the key findings of the report is that many judges lack the capacity to address environmental claims and manage environmental litigation effectively. This may particularly be the case with regard to newly developing areas of law such as those relating to recent scientific advances on neuroscience or climate change. For example, as several sitting judges observed last year at the Global Symposium on “Judiciary and the Environment,” judicial education on basic, case-relevant science of climate change is sorely needed. ELI’s Climate Judiciary Project has been working with the judiciary to fill that void, providing thoughtful, balanced, and expert presentations on climate-science facts, concepts, and methods that may come to bear on case deliberations in climate-related disputes.
Likewise, many legal and policy issues related to recent scientific advances may be controversial. When these topics end up in court, judges must assess the reliability and validity of the evidence and rule on their admissibility. Judicial training programs must therefore be impartial, fact-based, and pertinent for judges’ role and judicial norms. On August 26, ELI will host “Spotlight on Judicial Training: Science in the Courts,” where ELI and leading experts will explore the multifaceted aspects of incorporating scientific topics and concepts into judicial training. Panelists will dive into the evolution of judicial training, innovative programs that advance the level of science expertise including ELI’s Climate Judiciary Project and global Judicial Education Program, and best practices to communicate environmental science to judges.
ELI’s judicial training work, of course, spans the globe. For example, ELI is working to improve watershed health and biodiversity in Colombia and Ecuador by strengthening the judiciary´s knowledge and capacity to make informed decisions on environmental cases, ultimately leading to enhanced environmental protection in these two nations. And last summer, ELI conducted a judicial capacity-building project in Indonesia to help judges become strong players in the fight against deforestation and the path toward sustainable development. A video about the project is available here.
ELI’s focus on courts and the rule of law also extends to our massive collection of publications and resource materials. The Environmental Law Reporter’s coverage of the courts dates back to 1969 and continues to this day, and, over the years, it has published numerous articles on the role of courts and the rule of law. Likewise, ELI’s award-winning policy magazine, The Environmental Forum, regularly features In the Courts, a column by the esteemed Prof. Richard Lazarus.
ELI also serves as the Secretariat for the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE). Founded in 1989, INECE is the only global organization focused exclusively on achieving compliance with environmental law through effective compliance promotion and enforcement strategies, including administrative, civil, criminal, and judicial enforcement. As the INECE Secretariat, ELI helps organize training programs, discussion series, and other capacity-building activities to help compliance and enforcement practitioners implement national environmental laws and multilateral environmental agreements.
ELI traces its origins to a national conference on the emerging field of environmental law held at the Airlie House in Virginia in September 1969. Often described as a one-of-a kind environmental law think-and-do tank, ELI continues to effect change through its work as a premier environmental law educator, convener, publisher, and research engine as we enter our 50th year.
Be sure to check out our blogs, podcasts, and other online resources for additional material concerning courts and the rule of law. And visit https://www.eli.org/eli-50th-anniversary throughout the year for details and updates on ELI’s 50th Anniversary programming.