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What kind of work goes into supporting the rule of law in Uganda? Yesterday James Foster spoke about this at a Center for Global Justice (CGJ) event. James Foster is the International Justice Mission Uganda Country Director. He joined the CGJ event, Combating Violence Against Women and Children in Uganda, via Zoom.

Supporting the Rule of Law in Uganda

IJM’s Work

International Justice Mission (IJM) is an international organization that works to “protect the poor from violence.” They fix broken justice systems. System reform includes training law enforcement to become trauma informed. It also includes supporting systems that need funding and reshaping them to best serve the most vulnerable.

IJM works to promote their theory of change in each location that they work. Through system reform, IJM wants to ensure that the “rule of law is alive and well.” Foster explained the theory of change in yesterday’s talk.

“if you take away impunity for perpetrators of a certain crime… the prevalence of that crime will reduce. And eventually you want to work towards eliminating that crime all-together.”

Foster discussed the issues IJM focus on in Uganda. Some areas include combating property grabbing, intimate partner violence, and the sexual abuse of children. The World Bank as well as the United Nations, the government of Germany, and Ireland support their various projects.

Supporting the Rule of Law in Uganda


Foster explained some challenges to their work in the field. James explained that the first challenge is broken justice systems. Sometimes court cases are not heard in a timely manner because there are not enough funds for criminal cases to be heard. This is particularly jarring to learn about from the perspective of a United States’ citizen. We expect open and functioning courts. Another challenge of great importance is the safety of survivors. There is no ‘witness protection program’ for witnesses in Uganda so the burden of their protection falls on IJM. Finally, Foster explained that organizations that operating in ‘silos’ is a difficult challenge. IJM partners with local organizations to help them all work together.

Three Takeaways

Foster ended his talk with three takeaways for students seeking a career in international law. First, he emphasized the importance of being a good lawyer before an international lawyer. James told the students to “nail the basics and be an excellent writer.” Second, James encouraged them to gain diverse experience. He warned them not to become a “professional volunteer.” Finally, he told them to show up and be excellent problem-solvers.

Foster’s talk on IJM Uganda’s work was inspiring. If you would like to learn more about supporting the rule of law in Uganda please visit this information page.