Founded by deeply experienced dispute resolution pioneers in the U.S. and abroad, the Weinstein International Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to making mediation available and accessible worldwide in the face of increasing global challenges and conflict.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the Weinstein International Foundation works through a global network of Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) trained dispute resolution professionals from around the world with the cultural understanding and local knowledge necessary to promote the resolution of conflict through mediation and other dispute resolution practices in their own countries and beyond.
In a statement released yesterday, the foundation expressed optimism that Prof Rugege’s experience will be leveraged to reach its goals in Africa.
“We are thrilled that Sam Rugege has joined our board. The honorable former chief Justice Sam Rugege is respected worldwide in the field of mediation, conflict resolution and reconciliation and will help lead our Foundation’s efforts to bring mediation to many regions in Africa with the same dedication and persistence he has demonstrated in Rwanda,” said Judge Danny Weinstein, the Founder of Weinstein International Foundation.
Professor Sam Rugege expressed delight for the honor and assured to play his role especially in Africa where conflict continues to hamper development.
“I am greatly honored and humbled to be a member of the Weinstein International Foundation, joining a highly distinguished group of ADR pioneers. The Foundation is a champion of peaceful resolution of conflicts and other disputes, leading the effort of promoting greater access to justice through mediation and supporting education and training in mediation around the world. Rwanda has benefitted from its programs and I look forward to playing my part in this noble mission, especially in Africa where conflict continues to cause avoidable suffering and hamper development,” he said.
The statement further reads that Rugege is recognized for the achievements of Justice e in expanding the use of mediation in Rwanda.
“The Foundation looks forward to continuing to make mediation more accessible and available in Rwanda through the ongoing contributions of Justice Rugege and Senior Fellows, Harrison Mutabazi, Anastase Nabahire and Bernadette Uwicyeza,” reads part of the statement.
This expansion has been a critical component of the country’s drive to consolidate peace, stability and amicable resolution of disputes, as well as establish itself as a key economic hub in Africa in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
As Chief Justice in Rwanda, Rugege was responsible for developing judicial policy and oversaw judicial reforms encompassing the use of court technologies, continuing legal education and specialization training for judges. During his tenure, access to justice was enhanced through constitutional challenges, public interest litigation and the promotion of court-annexed mediation. Now a certified and registered mediator, Rugege was recently appointed to serve as chairperson of the newly created Court Mediation Advisory Committee.
Justice Rugege’s leadership in the Rwandan judiciary helped expand use of mediation in the country through the implementation of a court-annexed mediation project. Today, the Rwandan Judiciary remains committed to enhancing ADR and mediation and regularly refers cases to court-accredited mediators for mediation, as well as promoting mediation as a dispute resolution tool through public awareness campaigns.
In Rwanda, the Ministry of Justice has initiated a national ADR policy project, with the goal of developing an informed ADR comprehensive plan and a coordinated approach to its implementation at both the local and national levels. As part of this plan, a national mediation policy is now pending approval by the government. If passed, this policy will make mediation mandatory at the pre-filing stage of civil disputes and substantially raise the awareness and use of mediation.
Rugege was educated at Makerere University, Yale Law School and the University of Oxford, where he obtained an LLB, LLM and D. Phil, respectively. He began his career as a lecturer in law at Makerere University, before being forced to flee the terror of the Idi Amin regime in 1976. Rugege then taught at the Universities of Lesotho and Swaziland. Before being elevated to the bench, he was a professor of law at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa, where he taught constitutional law and post-Apartheid land reform.
Rugege was elected an Honorary Fellow of St. Peter’s College, Oxford “in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of law.” He has also been honored by the East African Law Society “in recognition of distinguished service to the legal profession,” by the Rwanda Bar Association for “outstanding contribution to the development of the legal profession and the justice sector in Rwanda” and by the Kigali Arbitration Centre for “extraordinary contribution and dedication to the promotion of ADR in Rwanda.”