Rosnah, born in the depths of the Borneo jungle, held a copy of her birth certificate in her hands. Aged 16, she had attended local school classes but was unable to take exams because she couldn’t prove her identity.
Her life changed that day with a basic legal document most of us take for granted.
On that day, in April 2019, LexisNexis helped bring Rosnah under the protection of the rule of law through its work with a local mobile court initiative.
We know that 57 percent of the world’s population lives outside the umbrella protection of the rule of law. That’s 5bn people, struggling for basic human rights on a daily basis.
Our mission, as a company, is to bring this number down to zero.
At LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which is part of RELX, we are 10,000 people serving customers in more than 130 countries. Everything that we do as a business advances the rule of law around the world. It is the foundation for the development of peaceful, equitable and prosperous societies.
In its simplest form, the rule of law means 'no one is above the law'.
We think of it as having four main components...
Equality Under the Law
All people, businesses and governments are accountable, and the law applies to everyone in the same way, no matter who you are.
Transparency of Law
Laws must be clear, precise, affordable and accessible while protecting fundamental human rights.
An independent judiciary ensures equality and fairness of law between people and public officials.
Accessible Legal Remedy
There must be access to timely resolution in a court of law.
In general, the stronger these components, the stronger the rule of law. but When one of them breaks down...
...Rule of law starts to erode
We have found that if rule of law strengthens by 10% around the world…then…
- Crime would drop by 30%
- GDP would increase by more than $7,000 per person
- Infant mortality would improve by more than 30%, saving millions of children’s lives
- Life expectancy would increase by more than 2 years
We think this is a future worth our focus.
How we are advancing the rule of Law
LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation
In 2019, we launched the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation to help advance the rule of law around the world.
The Foundation enables leading entities from the legal, judicial, academic, NGO and other sectors to support and implement projects that address one or more of the four rule of law components: equal treatment under the law, transparency of the law, access to legal remedy, and independent judiciaries.
Equality for all under the law
eyeWitness to Atrocities App
We work to support equality for all under the law and have focused on human rights.
Together with the International Bar Association, LexisNexis launched the eyeWitness to Atrocities App, now available in 130 countries. It’s the first app that documents and safeguards images in a secure and verifiable way so that they can be used as evidence in a court of law. By the close of 2018, the app had more than 10,000 downloads.
In 2018, 92 photos captured with the app helped convict two high-ranking military commanders from the Democratic Republic of Congo of murder and torture, consisting of crimes against humanity. Photos included images of mass graves and survivors. Showing these in court was the turning point. All 100 victims were awarded significant reparations. This set an important precedent for future atrocity crime trials.
Transparency of Law
LexisNexis databases provide transparency into the law in more than 130 countries, reaching billions of people.
In Sierra Leone, in 2019, we found legal aid workers could only access one set of law books, which were being sent back and forth across the country.
So, we digitized the books and provided 24/7 access to those laws. Now, with access to digital laws, they’ve been able to triple their case load, and dramatically expand access to justice across the country.
We will continue to expand these resources rapidly until all the world’s laws are visible and accessible to its citizens.
Access to Justice
Law360® launched Access to Justice, news coverage in the U.S., delivering stories, free of charge, on trends affecting the justice gap, pro bono programs and difference-makers helping citizens with the fewest resources gain access to courts
Rule of Law Impact Tracker
There is growing recognition by lawyers, business people, governments, academics, NGOs and citizens that rule of law is a cornerstone for sustainable global development.
The Rule of Law Impact Tracker is a unique way for users to visualize the impact of advancement of the rule of law.
Specifically, the tracker quantifies the relationship between the rule of law and economic and social progress. Countries with stronger rule of law scores perform better in measures of life expectancy, civil liberty and happiness.
An independent judiciary
Digital Case Law
In partnership, Harvard University and Ravel Law, which is one of LexisNexis' legal analytics tools, developed and launched a digital repository with three centuries of U.S. case law for academic and non-profit research, making it the most comprehensive database of American law and cases available anywhere except for the Library of Congress.
Timely access to legal remedy
Mobile Courts of East Malaysia
When the most vulnerable citizens of a country can’t afford to go to court, we bring the court to them and provide access to legal remedy.
In April 2019, our Malaysian LexisNexis team ventured into the jungles of Borneo as part of a mobile court. The mission was to allow access to citizenship, and therefore state institutions, for remote people. They slept in tents by night and ran the court by day. Rosnah, the young girl born in this part of the world, was just one of the 220 cases they handled.
Around the world entire families, often spanning generations, are stateless and undocumented. Those who are unable to prove their nationality pass on their “status” to their children, and so on. Of the nearly 7.6 billion people in the world, an estimated 10 million are stateless, half of whom are children. A staggering 800,000 persons are estimated to be undocumented in Sabah, East Malaysia.
In 2019, Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis Legal & Professional, was honoured by the United Nations Foundation as a Global Leader for his work in advancing the rule of law around the world. The Award honours the vision of the founders of the UN: to save future generations from the scourge of war, reaffirm faith in human rights and equal rights, ensure justice and international law, and promote social progress and freedom.
Previous honorees included Malala Yousufzai, Desmond Tutu, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, and Oprah Winfrey.
Ban Ki-moon, the eight Secretary-General of the UN said “I’d like to commend Mike Walsh on his Award from the United Nations Foundation for Global Leadership in advancing the rule of law around the world. Mike and the committed team at LexisNexis have been at the forefront of using their core competencies as a business, innovation, and creativity to strengthen the rule of law in the 130 markets where the company operates. Mike is a leader who understands that societies without a predictable legal framework are societies where people do not invest in their future, or the future of their country, and that businesses do better when the world does better. He’s shaped a powerful mission for LexisNexis to advance the rule of law for a better future and to support peace and progress as a result.”
"Our work is ongoing. It is not a foregone conclusion that rule of law institutions will function well. If justice is out of reach, citizens suffer, and we are all at risk. Rule of law is a bedrock of freedom, vital for building peace and prosperity."
This is why our people and core business operations are helping advance the rule of law around the world.