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Enhancing a rule of law culture in practical ways


Admission requirements

This course is only available to students of the Honours College GGA.

English level C1 or greater.

Maximum number of students: 25


Providing access to justice is key tool of empowerment for all in society and constitutes a fundamental tenet to the rule of law.
The UN SDG 16 is set to Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. This goal is particularly challenging and pressing with respect to vulnerable groups such as women, children, LGBT community, refugees and migrants. The specific rights and needs of these groups require innovative ideas to ensure that access the justice is not only an end in and of itself but also a functional reality with guarantees for equality. In parallel with efforts and achievements regarding the SDG 16, ongoing technological transformations affect but also offer opportunities for avenues of seeking justice, asserting rights and strengthening equality.
This admittedly ambitious course looks at a fundamental societal need (legal empowerment) through the prism of genuine practical relevance so as to foster innovative ideas and solutions. The practical component of the course will engage the students in crafting innovative solutions to (access to) justice based on comprehensive data collected by the Hague Institute for Innovation for Law (HiiL).

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of essential concepts of the rule of law in the context of access to justice.

  • Students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of essential concepts related to SDG 16, and illustrative examples of challenges, achievements, best practices, pitfalls.

  • Students will be able to identify challenges that are hindering legal and thus societal empowerment of (vulnerable) groups and think of transformative ways to address these.

  • Students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of rule of law culture and its relevance to society as a whole.

  • Students will be able to carry out innovative design processes to address important societal challenges to empowerment and bring about change.

  • Student will identify the impact of technological transformations on access to justice.

Research – Analyse – Problem Solving – Project Work – Cooperation – Communicate verbal – communicate in writing – presenting – social conscientiousness –resilience.


On the right side of programme front page of the studyguide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

The programme will look as follows:

  • Introduction: rule of law and its basic tenets

  • Building blocks of the road toward a rule of law culture

  • The many faces of access to justice as a human right and vulnerable groups (women, children, LGBT, migrants and refugees)

  • Institutionalised justice systems vs traditional justice

  • Technological transformation and access to justice: opportunities

  • Excursions and guest lecture at Hague-based organisation focusing on innovative ideas to access to justice

  • Workshops to discuss project progress

  • Presentation of project outcome

Mode of instruction

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

Contact hours: 25
Self-study including assignments and group work: 115

  • Seminars: 6 seminars of 2.5 hours (participation is mandatory)

  • Excursions: 2 excursions of 3 hours

  • Presentation during a Research Symposium

  • Self-study hours: Literature reading, Practical work, assignments & final essay

Assessment method

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • 20% Participation assessed continually through participation in seminars

  • 20% (10% each) Two reaction papers to a session’s reading(s) of 1000 words

  • 20% Presentation during a research symposium

  • 40% A final case-application paper (group work) of 3000 words

☒ Option 1: Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams. ☐ Option 2: It is not required to successfully complete all partial exams in order to pass this course. Students are allowed to compensate a ‘fail’ (grades up to and including 5.0).

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the Class.

Reading list

Parts of the following publications will be prescribed as course literature:

  • Leanne McKay; Adewale Ajadi; Vivienne O’Connor, Toward a Rule of Law culture, Exploring effective responses to justice and security challenges, (USIP, 2015) available at:

  • Statistics concerning SDG16 published by Eurostat,_justice_and_strong_institutions(statistical_annex)

  • Diana Goff, Working with informal justice, Key considerations for confident engagement (2016), Report available at

  • Justice for All, Report of the Task force on Justice (2019) available at:

  • Understanding Justice Needs, HiiL (2018)

Report of the Innovation Working Group of the Task Force on Justice on innovation financing
Further useful source:

Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.


Honours coordinator/administration will take care of enrolment.
Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for this class. Your registration will be done centrally after successful completion of the class.



  • The students will master their research and analysis, innovative problem-solving as well as leadership, writing and presentation skills.

  • Just societies, equality, empowerment, rule of law, #metoo, traditional justice, digital justice,

  • Socio-legal concepts, justice organisation, human rights