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CBA International Initiatives

25 Years Strong

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CBA International Initiatives is celebrating 25 years of international justice reform.  Since 1990, the CBA has delivered legal and justice reform and capacity building projects in 29 countries across Asia, Africa, Central Europe and the Caribbean. Here are some highlights.



CBA International Initiatives receives the bulk of its funding from two streams at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). Partnership Programs supports CBA’s work in countries where the legal profession is at different stages of development. Bilateral Programs supports work with governmental and quasi-governmental institutions to improve access to justice and administration of justice in developing countries.

CII also receives project funding from other sources, including the Development Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Program.

Les projets d’Initiatives internationales sont aussi financés par d’autres sources, comme l’agence de développement du ministère des Affaires étrangères du Danemark, la Banque interaméricaine de développement et le Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement.


CBA Volunteers

Carol  A.  Albert

Case Management Master, Superior Court of Justice of Ontario

Describe your experience.

I was involved in a project in three East African countries on case management and  alternative dispute resolution initiatives that set up a method of experiential learning through role-play to facilitate communication and understanding between the benches, the bars, and the ministries of the attorneys general. 

What was your biggest take-away?

Through modelling and encouragement, legal actors can be brought out of their comfort zones, and to understand one another’s perspectives. 


Executive director, Nova Scotia
Barristers’ Society

Describe your experience.

I was involved in access to justice projects in East Africa, working with lawyers and law  societies struggling with the development of self-government and regulation models, and  with the strengthening of their organizations. 

What was your biggest take-away?

The problem in international development is ensuring that there is the infrastructure and capacity for good ideas to be delivered, and being on the ground allows you to apply pressure to keep things moving.



First contract: Canada – Eastern Europe Lawyers Internship Program.


International Development established as Special Committee of the CBA.


Robin Sully joins CBA and over the next 19 years transforms IDC into a globally respected partner in development. In 2013, she receives the Commonwealth Lawyers Association inaugural Lexis-Nexis Rule of Law Award.

CBA-Legal Resources of South Africa Project begins. Leads to establishment of Constitutional Litigation Unit, which goes on to successfully undertake many high-profile cases. In 2003, the project was awarded the Canadian Manufacturers’ & Exporters’ award for International Cooperation. 


CBA International Initiatives takes on its first of many international youth internship

The Canada-China Legal Aid and Community Legal Services Project (in partnership with IBM Canada) is the first in a series of multi-year and multi-million dollar projects. Its goal: to INcrease China’s capacity to improve governance, respect for human rights, and the democratic development process.  


The Government of Jamaica Justice Sector Review is the first substantive project funded by sources other than the Canadian government. The project aims to develop strategies and mechanisms to facilitate the modernization of Jamaica’s justice system.


Engaging Civil Society in Democratic Development in Nepal aims to SUpport Nepal in its move toward democratic government by strengthening the capacity of the Nepal Bar Association to help citizens exercise their democratic and human rights, and to advocate for laws that protect these rights. 


The National Legislative Development Project in Vietnam (in partnership with Ontario Justice, the Ministry of the Attorney-General of Ontario, and Stikeman Elliot LLP) supports an integrated program of reform of the Vietnamese legislative development process. The largest project to date, it spans seven years and has a $14.5-million budget.


Supporting Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa (SAJCEA) is a four-year project between the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and partners in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The project is designed to help improve the safety and security of children and youth by improving their ability to seek and obtain remedies for infringements of their rights.


The CBA International Development Program changes its name to CBA International Initiatives to better reflect the collegial, peer-to-peer dynamic that has always guided the department’s engagement with overseas partners.