Presenting at the Association of Women Judges Summit on Counter-Trafficking In Persons
#IDW2019 – Together for Gender Equality
My work with IDLO has allowed me to work on their IPTJ (Increasing Public Trust in the Judiciary) initiative. As part of this initiative, we worked on and rolled out CUSS (Court User Satisfaction Survey) to collect public feedback of their court experience. However, this post will focus on highlighting how collaborative the international development field can be. While helping out with CUSS, I was attending a working group consisting of local judges and government representatives to collect their feedback on our pilot survey. After the meeting, the Country Manager for our office, Fred Huston was approached by a local judge, Ms. Inara Gilyazetdinova to inquire about my role with IDLO and if he would be willing to lend me to her for some counter-TIP (Trafficking In Persons) research. Fred was very enthusiastic and supportive of the idea and he introduced us to each other.
Through this introduction, I was asked to research counter human trafficking agencies, statistics and initiatives both in the US and Canada, and to present my findings and analysis at the upcoming counter-TIP judicial summit. Judge Inara is a member of the Association of Women Judges, and her focus is on judicial training and legislative reform focused on human trafficking encompassing bride kidnapping, migrant workers, sex trafficking and militant recruitment.
Conducting research and preparing for the presentation not only allowed me to learn about human trafficking, but also provided an opportunity to establish connections with Canadian governmental organs. I got in touch with social work and legal clinics in Windsor that focus on human trafficking matters, and through that connection was put in touch with the Ontario Crown Attorney’s Human Trafficking Taskforce in my hunt for available training materials for lawyers and judges in this specific area. Seeing how willingly and enthusiastically resources, contacts and materials were shared with me, I really came to appreciate the collaborative nature of international development and capacity building initiatives.
On January 18, I attended the summit on Counter-TIP in Kyrgyzstan which consisted of 15-20 local female judges, all members of the Association of Women Judges in an event conducted in collaboration with UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). There were judges from first instance courts all the way to Supreme Court and Constitutional Chamber members in attendance. I was the second person to present that day, and I presented a comparative legal analysis of US and Canadian human trafficking statistics, legislation and task-forces dedicated to this area. I also discussed Kyrgyz statistics, the country’s placement on the US State Department’s Human Trafficking Index, as well as discussing the Global Slavery Index as a tool that can provide valuable insight for this initiative.
The presentation went well, even though at certain points it felt like my 1L moot because I was standing in front of a room full of judges being challenged on my recommendations and analysis and had to discuss the research methodology used to reach the conclusions as well as the contextual applicability of the comparative analysis. It was a challenging and nerve wracking experience, but one I am extremely glad to have participated in, and the positive feedback I received also indicated that the Association of Women Judges was glad to have invited me their summit.
This was an opportunity that arose unexpectedly but my host organization’s support and willingness to share their intern made it possible. This, along with the consistent willingness to share ideas, resources and materials from all the judicial, legal and governmental organs I contacted crystallized for me just how collaborative and inter-dependent the international development field can be if people are willing to collaborate on such important initiatives.