Improving the Effectiveness of International Lawyers in Rule of Law and Transitional Justice Projects

26 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2015

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Date Written: November 17, 2015


Improving personal effectiveness has been a popular subject for many decades in the business world. However, in transitional justice and rule of law, effectiveness has only relatively recently been a topic of interest, as researchers investigate reasons why international legal interventions succeed and why they fail. This paper examines the issue of effectiveness of rule of law and transitional justice interventions from the perspective of the actors themselves – the international lawyers – especially as they work with their national counterparts to achieve their objectives. The report analyses the barriers to intercultural effectiveness at the individual level for international lawyers. The main part of this paper then focuses on the specific knowledge, skills and values through which an international lawyer may be able to optimise their own intercultural effectiveness. In particular, we highlight the desirability of a full factual briefing before starting work in a different country, the need for effective intercultural communication and organisational skills and the importance of adopting a flexible attitude and an understanding of one’s personal and professional limitations. We will also discuss how institutions hiring international lawyers can take also concrete practical steps to improve the success of interventions, by helping their staff and consultants to become more interculturally effective.

The methodology for this paper is qualitative and more than fifty lawyers with experience working in international interventions were surveyed for their personal reflections on effectiveness in their workplace. The author of the paper has also drawn on his own experiences and discussions with both international and national colleagues, having spent more than ten years working in the field of international criminal law, transitional justice and rule of law development.

Note: This report was commissioned as part of the Lawyers, Conflict & Transition project – a three-year initiative funded by the Economic & Social Research Council that is run in partnership between the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast and the Transitional Justice Institute.

Keywords: Rule of law, transitional justice, lawyers, intercultural effectiveness

Suggested Citation

Batesmith, Alex, Improving the Effectiveness of International Lawyers in Rule of Law and Transitional Justice Projects (November 17, 2015). Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 15-09, Available at SSRN: or

Alex Batesmith (Contact Author)

University of Liverpool ( email )

Chatham Street
Liverpool, L69 7ZA
United Kingdom

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