The Government of Botswana is seeking to build national law reform capacity to ensure law reform processes are nationally led and to support the timely achievement of national strategic priorities. UNDP is supporting the Government to develop a National Law Reform Strategy to further this objective.
A Law Reform Strategy Conference was therefore convened by the Attorney General’s Chambers, supported by UNDP, in Gaborone Botswana recently. The Law Reform and Development Commissioner from Namibia (Adv Yvonne Dausab) and the former Australian Law Reform Commissioner (Prof David Weisbrot) presented at the Conference and shared their extensive expertise in the field. Speakers from the Reforms Unit in the Office of the President and the National Strategy Office, provided guidance on strategy development in Botswana. Representatives from the legal profession and civil society shared their perspectives on the status of law reform in Botswana and key priority areas for reform. The conference developed a set of recommendations to guide the development of the National Law Reform Strategy.
The establishment of a law reform agency is essential for the realisation of Government’s large and complex law reform projects which underpin the National Development Plan 11 (NDP 11) and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and as such, it’s establishment is a Government priority. Law reform agencies can take many forms on the spectrum from stand-alone Commissions to Departments or Units within Ministries. Following a report on various models for a law reform agency in Botswana (2009), Cabinet approved, in 2010, the establishment of a Law Reform Division at the Attorney General’s Chambers. In October 2017, Cabinet decided to proceed with the establishment of a Law Reform Unit under the Legislative Drafting Division at the Attorney General’s Chambers. A key feature of the National Law Reform Strategy will therefore be the establishment and operation of the Law Reform Unit. The Conference recommended that the Law Reform Unit be piloted with a view to transitioning to a Department or parastatal agency in the future, recognising the benefits of independent exercise of functions and budget.
A national law reform strategy is required to guide the establishment of a Law Reform Unit with capacity to conduct high quality, nationally-led law reform processes. The Law Reform Strategy will reflect that the Law Reform Unit is one component of a broader law reform system in Botswana, with many stakeholders and actors. The national law reform strategy should draw on international experience and best practice and be grounded in the local context in Botswana. It should be based on consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
The law reform strategy should provide the vision for ensuring that Botswana’s laws are modern, complete and reflect Botswana’s unique legal context and national policy objective including;
- Establishment of a Law Reform Unit pursuant to Cabinet’s decision;
- creating an enabling environment for the promotion and protection of human rights and sustainable economic growth through sound legal frameworks that are necessary to achieve a range of other NDP11 and SDG targets; and
- realization of NDP11 and SDG 16 targets related to effective, accountable and transparent institutions and responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making.
The Law Reform Strategy will be a 5 year strategy with a 3 year work plan (including prioritisation of law reform projects) a budget and a monitoring and evaluation framework that is linked with the National Monitoring and Evaluation System (NMES) and the SDGs. The strategy will address issues including consultation and public engagement, capacity development planning, coordination mechanisms and the prioritisation of law reform issues. The strategy will include structure and resourcing for a Law Reform Unit within the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
The strategy development will be led by a core team consisting of the Attorney General’s Chambers, NSO and UNDP, with the inclusion of other stakeholders including line ministries, the Ombudsman’s office, parastatals, Law Society Botswana, University of Botswana and so on.