Uganda

Many judges in Uganda attended law school or took office before environmental laws were enacted. When environmental cases started to be filed, some judges were unfamiliar with the new laws and most did not have copies of the relevant statutes. Many cases languished without being heard. A national judicial education program—led by Green Advocates, a Ugandan non-governmental organization, with support from the Environmental Law Institute and UN Environment—allowed judges to become familiar with this new area of law. Judges from other countries as well as subject matter experts taught the courses. The peer to-peer exchange, as well as giving judges copies of Ugandan laws and decisions from sister courts, helped to significantly increase the number of environmental cases heard and decided in Uganda. When the course started in 2001, each judge received a binder of cases. There was only one Ugandan case (which was included); so, most of the binder included cases from Kenya, Tanzania, India, Philippines, the United States, and other jurisdictions. Over five years, every judge and magistrate in Uganda was trained, and as judges became more familiar with Ugandan statutes and case law from other jurisdictions, they started deciding cases. By the end of the training, there were two binders: the original binder of cases from other jurisdictions, and a new binder of Ugandan environmental cases. Thus, providing training and education empowered staff and institutions to enact and expand environmental rule of law.