On Friday, September 13, 2019, the Wilson Center Africa Program hosted a delegation of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) for a discussion around the theme of rule of law and the U.S. Judicial System. The IVLP delegates were welcomed to the Wilson Center by Mr. Michael Morrow, Senior Diplomatic Fellow of the Wilson Center Africa Program.

Mr. Morrow opened the discussion by offering a definition of rule of law as given by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and inviting participants to offer their reactions to the definition and how it may or may not apply in their country contexts. In the following discussion, the participants raised several issues, including the challenge of implementation and enforcement of laws; applying legal systems imported from other countries; the exclusionary nature of rule of law in some countries that does not extend to the weakest in society and allows impunity for the most powerful; the importance of democracy and an independent judiciary; and how to foster rule of law in developing contexts. This event brought 17 IVLP delegates to the Wilson Center, including leaders from a diverse range of African countries and Haiti working in government, law, politics, and academia and research.