Rwanda Administrative Justice Project will Help National Agencies, Local Governments Render Informed and Defensible Decisions
The Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development (CPDD) at UMass Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, has been awarded a three-year, $943,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen administrative justice in Rwanda.
The grant is designed to facilitate research to identify the most serious problems with the quality and legality of administrative decision-making in three areas with significant public and business impact—labor regulation, public procurement, and land expropriation. Research findings will then be used to spur critically needed training, civic awareness, and citizen legal aid activities, as well as possible legal and/or regulatory reforms.
UMass Boston will carry out the Rwanda Administrative Justice Project with two Rwandan sub-grantee partners—the Institute for Policy and Research and the Rwandan Legal Aid Forum.
Malcolm Russell-Einhorn, a lecturer in international relations in the McCormack Graduate School and a comparative law and public administration specialist at CPDD, wrote the grant proposal and will serve as principal investigator. Russell-Einhorn came to UMass Boston in February 2015 after serving as the director of the SUNY Center for International Development and a research professor of public administration at SUNY-Albany.
Russell-Einhorn was aided on the grant proposal by Parfait Gasana, a 2015 graduate of UMass Boston's International Relations master’s degree program who grew up in Rwanda.
Seth Karamage, a Rwandan citizen educated in Massachusetts, will help to manage the project on a day-to-day basis. He has most recently served in a similar position in Nigeria for Professor Darren Kew, CPDD director and PI on another USAID-funded grant supporting inter-religious trust, relationship-building, conflict prevention, and mediation.
“Malcolm brings deep experience in administrative legal reform efforts from elsewhere in Africa and worldwide to this brick-and-mortar approach to helping build more democratic governance in Rwanda–by improving government responsiveness to direct constituent justice needs," Kew said.
In the past decade, according to Russell-Einhorn, Rwanda has accelerated its progress as a leading developmental state in Africa, providing steady economic growth, an increasingly attractive regulatory framework for larger-scale investment, and a society with significantly lower levels of crime and administrative corruption than found elsewhere on the continent.
At the level of policy implementation and routine bureaucratic functioning, however, there is a widespread sense that the public administration’s quality, legality, and consistency in everyday official decision making have fallen short in a number of ways, particularly at the local government level. These shortcomings include the proper grounding of all decisions in applicable law, consideration of all relevant evidence submitted by citizens and businesses, and provision to the public of guidance on avenues of redress or appeal.
Based on the research, training, and law reform activities to be undertaken, the UMass Boston Rwanda Administrative Justice Project will help national agencies and local governments render more informed and defensible decisions and empower citizens to better understand and challenge those decisions when they are flawed.
“This is another indication of UMass Boston’s growing global research and public service work as well as USAID’s confidence in the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development,” said McCormack Graduate School Dean David W. Cash.