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Keynote: What do you do when you can't eat rule of law?

Gender Equality, Inclusive Governance and the Law: Aligned for a Better World

2018 Annual Conference, January 22-23, 2018 

125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON

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Monday January 22, 2017 - 5:00pm - Keynote Address

Keynote Address:

What do you do when you can’t eat rule of law?


Rakesh Rajani, Director, Civic Engagement and Government, FORD Foundation


“I suspect that most of us prefer to live in democracies governed by the rule of law rather than the rule of men, particularly because we know that powerful men are prone to arbitrariness and authoritarian bullying. So how do we make sense of the fact that citizens, in many countries, are choosing to install just such strong men and are quite willing to give up on the rule of law? Could it be that their experience of the rule of law is very different from ours? That rule of law has not only failed to meet their aspirations, but provided the scaffolding for harmful policies that accentuate social inequality and mistrust? In such circumstances, is fixing rule of law the solution, or is it something else?”


Rakesh Rajani is Director, Civic Engagement and Government at the Ford Foundation in New York where he directs the foundation’s work to advance democratic participation and transparent, effective, and accountable governance. Until December 2014 he was the Head of Twaweza, an East African organization that promotes citizen agency, open government and basic education. He is also a founding member and past co-chair of the Open Government Partnership, which involves 74 countries covering two billion people. From 2001 to 2007 Rakesh served as the founding Executive Director of HakiElimu, Tanzania’s leading citizen engagement and education advocacy organization. Rakesh serves on several national and international boards, and was a fellow of Harvard University from 1998 to 2013. He has written and edited over 400 papers and popular publications in English and Swahili. Rakesh graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis and Harvard Universities.