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Harmonising Corporate Law to Help Secure Economic Exchanges - the Organisation in Africa for the Harmonisation of Corporate Law (OHADA)

The harmonisation of Corporate Law is an investment-securing factor that fosters economic integration and growth. France provided its support to OHADA from its very inception, in 1993, in particular by contributing to its capitalisation fund in the amount of EUR 6.1 million. The treaty was signed by 15 States in the Franc Zone, as well as by Guinea. Ghana is considering possible membership, the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced that it would join and Madagascar has decided to adjust its legislation without officially entering the organisation. In 2005, the Member States themselves funded, for the first time, a large portion of the organisation’s budget, thereby denoting the importance they see in it. A number of donors are also involved: the European Union, through its continued support to the OHADA school (ERSUMA), the World Bank, the UNPD, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs continues its support in the drafting and dissemination of supra-national laws, training and awareness-raising action and the computerisation of the Regional Registry on Trade and Secured Loans.

Supporting the Modernisation of the Senegalese Police Force and Legal System

For around ten years now, French cooperation has supported Senegal’s policy to modernise its police forces. The Senegalese authorities wish to be able to cope with new threats to security as embodied by the major cross-border trafficking of narcotics, weapons, vehicles and persons, underground networks and the activities of international terrorist networks. Designed over the 2005-2008 period, this EUR 2.2 million project is aimed at instituting a continuing training programme for police personnel and take part in establishing a Observatory on Migratory Flows thanks to specially-designed software for recording all incoming and outgoing individuals at the border stations, and networking these with the relevant national authority. The European Union wishes to fund the extension of the Observatory to all of the countries in the Economic Community of Western African States (CEDEAO) in order to better understand the nature and magnitude of migratory streams and thereby to better control illegal immigration networks.

France also supports, through a EUR 2.2 million contribution, a project to back the National Modernisation Programme for the Justice System, which is aimed at improving the institution’s efficiency and connection with indictees. It is deployed through capacity-building initiatives in the national administration, decentralised offices, penitentiary administration, and National Authority on Monitored Education and Social Protection, in particular through the National Training Centre for Legal System Personnel. It provides support for the production of legal literature.

The project also supports the creation of a local legal system made up of 7 correctional facilities, 7 information bureaus for indictees and 15 information and guidance bureaus. The aim is to foster access to justice for the people, who must be able to receive free information about their rights and responsibilities.

Another objective is to better take into account the expectations of indictees, settle everyday disputes quickly and give victims of criminal offences somewhere to turn.

Lastly, the programme is aimed at implementing an effective legal institution serving the Rule of Law, through support in the reorganisation of the highest-level legal authorities. The Court of Appeals and the Council of State will also be equipped with the computer hardware and tools needed to publish their decisions online. The Appellate Court and Regional Court of Dakar will be bolstered by the creation of a department specialised in economic and financial issues.

Contributing to legal expertise and the dissemination of law: the Hanoi House of Law (Maison du Droit)

Founded in Hanoi, in 1993, Maison du Droit is a major tool in France’s cooperation system in Vietnam, where it provides legal expertise, training in legal professions and dissemination of law. Thanks to its bi-cultural team, it offers technical assistance to all of its partners in French-Vietnamese legal cooperation, and in particular to the Vietnamese authorities, in implementing their judiciary modernisation programme.

With 5 000 works, its document centre is the leading French-language documentation centre in Southeast Asia. All of Maison du Droit’s activities feed into a French-Vietnamese sharing network between the professional players in the legal community: legal professions (magistrates, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs), academics and public decision-makers in governmental administrations. Maison du Droit is also the regional contact point for those wishing to organise conferences open to legal specialists from neighbouring countries.

Protecting freedom of expression

The media can play a significant part in the democratic process and in consolidating the Rule of Law, by providing civil society with objective and pluralistic information about how public affairs are managed. To this end, they must be professional, independent and economically viable. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs works to help them build strength, but supporting:

-  the elaboration of legislative frameworks, in particular in countries in transition and coming out of crises.
-  the structuring of the profession, needed to promote professional and ethically-appropriate journalistic practices. It works in particular toward building capacity in the profession’s federating entities (collective agreements, rationalisation of technical infrastructures and documentary resources) and self-regulation bodies (funding for studies, training).
-  the professionalisation of journalists and press companies, which implies initial and continuing training carried out in partnership with schools and professional associations in journalism. In addition to the significant cooperation carried out in partnership with the FIDH to protect those championing Human Rights, which involves such aspects as support to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Proponents (winner of the French Republic’s Human Rights Prize in 1998), the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs supports the action of a large number of NGOs working in this area.
-  The International Peace Corps for projects to back Human Rights proponents in Colombia (action in favour of protecting Human Rights and strengthening the social network of communities affected by armed conflict) and Guatemala (the fight against impunity, problems arising from the soil, Human Rights and globalisation).
-  Lawyers without Borders on “The Defence’s Defence” projects in Colombia, “Training for Lawyers on Human Rights and Defence” in Cambodia, “Promotion and Training in International Legal Instruments, Due Process and the Rights of Defendants, Support and Backing for Lawyers”, in Nigeria.
-  Reporters without Frontières for the project “Securing the Conditions for Exercising Journalism and Setting Up Institutions Ensuring Freedom of the Press in the Priority Solidarity Zone” (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia and Chad).
-  The Confederation Générale du Travail (CGT) trade union for its projects “Unionism, Debt and Poverty” in Burundi, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, DRC and Madagascar; “Unionism and Ethnic Minorities” in Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, “Holding a Union Forum at the tri-continental World Social Forum in Bamako”, in partnership with trade unions from Mauritania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Congo and Burundi.

Strengthening the Rule of Law in Afghanistan, a multi-sector capacity-building action in a post-conflict State

Training for judges

The International Institute for Comparative Studies (IIPEC) and the Max Planck Institute (Germany) have developed an innovative training project for Afghan judges dealing with the rules for due process in criminal proceedings, run by judges from the Afghan Diaspora in France and Germany.

Training for Parliamentarians

Since 2004, France has been the framework-Nation for the institution of the Afghan Parliament, which it has supported financially since its inception. It works to provide training to Parliamentarians through French experts and by organising training sessions in foreign Parliaments.

The fight on drugs

France has implemented police cooperation with Afghanistan: sending in specialised brigades, providing training, supplying a narcotics analysis laboratory and scientific police force.

Protection for minors

The Police International Technical Cooperation Service has trained a brigade dedicated to protection for minors, who are particularly exposed to military enlistment during this post-conflict period.

Supporting the reform of the criminal law and penitentiary systems in Niger

Niger has made substantial strides in strengthening the Rule of Law and upholding Human Rights since the revival of the transition process into democracy, in the late 1990s. However, a long period of political and institutional instability has led to inadequacies, in particular in the legal and penitentiary fields (inadequate prison sentences, limited training for penitentiary workers, overcrowded prisons).

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs backs the Support Programme for Judiciary Reform (PARJ) instituted by the Nigerian authorities in 2003, by taking a global approach to the penitentiary sector: looking for alternatives to imprisonment, supporting legal reform and promoting Human Rights.
It supports the implementation of initial training initiatives for National Guard members in the field of penitentiary surveillance, multi-faceted continuing training by local instructors (penitentiary rules, conflict prevention and management, hygiene, Human Rights), roving training programmes on Human Rights and criminal law, training for instructors to offer initial responses to the issues of treatment of minors, delinquency and social reintegration. That action is rounded out by recently-initiated debate with all of the stakeholders (administration, legal jurisdictions, social workers and civil society), in particular about alternative sentences to imprisonment.

Promoting Governance and Reform for Justice in the Arab Region

Under the OECD, France participates in the Governance For Development (GFD) programme, launched by the Ministers of 18 Arab countries, which is aimed at improving public governance: institutional and legal frameworks for anti-corruption, citizen participation, accountability, State renovation, and independence for the justice system, with a view toward economic revitalization and sustainable development in the region.

This programme makes it possible to bring into convergence programme ownership by the Arab stakeholders through regional dialogue, the OECD’s peer review and experience-sharing methodology, and the UNDP’s expertise in the field of cooperation. It is structured around 6 priority areas for reform, identified by the Arab countries. As part of the working group on electronic governance, France has offered its support in creating a portal site designed to federate the experience of the Maghreb countries in this field. It has also provided €115 000 to the UNDP’s POGAR Programme (Programme on Governance in the Arab Region) to run the working group on the topic: “Legal Reform and Applications”, which is chaired by Jordan, with the United States and France sharing vice-chairmanship. France will provide all training in the economic and financial fields, of such importance as the countries’ economies enter globalisation. As they came out of the dialogue, several countries issued strategic action plans, putting emphasis on identifying innovative solutions tailored to the special context and reforms underway in each country, as well as on capacity-building for civil servants, in designing, implementing, coordinating and assessing governance reform.

This support falls in line with efforts for greater consistency in French Cooperation at the regional level, across the Maghreb and Machrek countries. In the field of justice, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has provided its support to reforming and renovating the law, as well as to modernising legal organisation. Since the Doha Conference on Justice in the Arab World, organised upon the impetus of France and Qatar in 2004, several regional conferences have been held, focusing on cybercrime, the fight against money laundering, and funding for terrorism. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs also participates, through the POGAR Programme, in training for instructors targeted at prosecutors in Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon, in partnership with the National School of Magistrates.


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