French start-up stakes a claim to being “The search engine for International Law”
By Janet Anderson
In December 2017, HiiL Innovating Justice held the 8th Annual Innovating Justice Forum at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The forum brought together the best and most promising justice entrepreneurs from all over the world. The attendees were selected from a pool of more than 600 justice innovators who participated in the Innovating Justice Challenge 2017.
Through the Annual Innovating Justice Forum and other novel initiatives, HiiL hopes to inspire a groundswell of support and interest in justice entrepreneurship as has been witnessed in the spheres of technology and health. Justice Hub tagged along for December’s forum and caught up with a few of the participants on the sidelines of the event.
In this interview, conducted as part of our popular #MyJustice series, Justice Hub talks to Sylvie Dumanoir of Jus Mundi, a French start-up that styles itself as “The Search Engine for International Law”
Justice Hub: What is the aim of Jus Mundi?
Our aim is to change and improve the way people and legal professionals seeking justice get access to international law. In international law you have a lot of solutions for labour rights, for fundamental rights and others. Jus Mundi believes that there are a lot of ways of changing the approach of carrying out trials in favour of the people.
Justice Hub: Why do you think international law isn’t being used in this way at the moment?
Because it is really general and so far away from the people and we need to bring it closer to the lawyers, judges and to the people for it to be used.
Justice Hub: Can you give an example of how that might work?
For example, in France, we have immigrants and we have trials for them, and since they don't have access to their social rights or social security, they are not treated like everyone else. So we need to make sure the judges see and know the international convention showing that the law applies the same to the French people as it does to the immigrants. Often judges don't know about it and we have to present to them the articles of the conventions and then sometimes they say "okay, I have to apply it".
Justice Hub: Do you think it is mainly lawyers who don't know?
In France, yes. But this is different in other countries. For example, in Columbia or in Brazil it's not the same problem. In Niger it's not the same problem. But in France lawyers do not know specific aspects of the law because from the university they are taught that international law is not effective. And it is just to govern inter-state relations. But it's not just for the states, it's for the people.
Justice Hub: Why did you get involved in this? What is your background?
My background is work experience with immigrants to help lawyers win their cases and a Ph.D. about the effectiveness of international law. And of course Jus Mundi, this new project that has created a search engine for international law. This is my aim, to make the international law effective, because I’m really sure that it can help people.
Photo: Janet Anderson