When the violent storms of the 22 year-long Sudanese Civil War settled, the world's youngest nation was born. This week, as the Republic of South Sudan celebrates its two-year anniversary as an independent nation, it faces another challenge: rebuilding its identity.
South Sudan's efforts to dismiss former judicial practices steeped in Muslim faith and Sharia law and to adopt English as the official language begins at the educational level. Regent University School of Law's Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law is seeking to aid the University of Juba—a public university in South Sudan's capital city—in its beginning stages of adopting and instilling English common law into its judicial practices.
Common law is the body of law based on custom and general principles that, embodied in case law, serves as precedent or is applied to situations not covered by statute. Common law has been administered in the courts of England since the Middle Ages and is also found in the U.S. and in most of the British Commonwealth.
"The nation faces significant challenges as it seeks to build a legal system based on common law and the rule of law," said Dean Jeffrey Brauch. "We are hopeful that Regent can come alongside the University of Juba and Christian lawyers in South Sudan and support them in their efforts."
Brauch, along with law professor Craig Stern, traveled to South Sudan in June to meet with University of Juba representatives as well as members of the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and various legal non-profit groups in order to encourage the growth of the common law movement in the nation's legal education system.
"For us to have a role in this is a tremendous and marvelous thing," said Stern. "Our brothers and sisters in South Sudan are really trying to do something that our nation has had the benefit of for centuries already."
Though the relationship between Regent and the University of Juba is still in its exploratory and informative stages, the opportunities for aiding the school are vast. Stern explained that Regent's role as an international advocate will likely entail supporting the university's networking opportunities, helping teach English courses, and encouraging alumni to assist in the nation's transition.
"We don't want to be there just for the sake of being there; we want to help the University of Juba develop their ownership of common law," said Stern.
Stern explained that the future of Regent's relationship with the University of Juba will rest solely in showing solidarity as the Lord directs. Though the transitional process will be long, Stern attests that the nation's commitment to this process is "awe-inspiring."
"What impressed me the most was the need of the situation; there is a lot of room for help," said Stern. "There is a lot of opportunity to assist the youngest nation in the world and to honor their desire to have a common law English system—it's really a lot of work to do."
Learn more about the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.
By Brett Wilson
Photo courtesy of newsudanvision.com
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