The Governance Rules (“the GR”) for the Law Societies Compact and Forum for SDG16 (“Compact and Forum”) describe the membership and structure of the Compact and Forum, as well as the work of the law societies and bars which are its members (“Members”) and the way decisions are made.

Membership of the Compact and Forum will be open to:

  • law societies, bar associations and similar collectives/professional societies of lawyers, with or without a regulatory role (“law societies”), that represent and/or lobby on behalf of their members at a national or international level;
  • with the approval of the Board, law societies operating at a local level where such law society:
    • has more than 1000 members or is more active than the relevant national law society in issues relating to the rule of law or access to justice; and
    • is involved in initiatives for promoting, or for training and advocacy to lawyers in issues related to, SDG16.

provided that the law society, whether local, national or international:

  • is willing to sign the Compact;
  • satisfies the due diligence processes set out in the GR; and
  • acknowledges that it is familiar with the Compact and Forum’s ideals and objectives and recognizes that its name and emblem may not be associated with any political or sectarian cause or otherwise used in a manner inconsistent with the status, reputation and neutrality of the Compact and Forum and its founding Members.

The GR constitute an expression of mutual good faith and are neither legally binding, nor commit any of the Members to enter any specific activity or project.

Moreover, the GR do not create an exclusive commitment for any of the Members, nor do they constitute a legal agency relationship between Members.

The Members acknowledge that cooperation under the present GR, and the joint activities and programs deriving from the Compact and Forum, are subject to the Members’ respective mandates, funding constraints, policies and procedures.

Members recognize that their collective efforts are committed to advancing solutions as appropriate based on their country context, in accordance with the Compact and with respect for the status and reputation of the other Members.

I. Preamble

Promoting the rule of law and increasing access to justice are two key development priorities within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, as noted in SDG16.3 and as further described in here.  Lawyers, on the front line of the judicial system, have a significant role with respect to these two key priorities.

It is of paramount importance to underline that the Compact and Forum’s Governance should reflect and promote transparency, accountability, flexibility and effective support for the Compact and Forum Members. The Governance shall aim to reflect the norms and practices developed to implement the objectives and principles of the Compact.

The promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions as reflected in SDG 16 and its indicators are of paramount importance for the Global Forum on Law Justice and Development (the “GFLJD”), hosted by the World Bank, and is a core and permanent value for all its projects and achievements.

Due to the very strong connections between the two initiatives and to optimize the GR of the Compact and Forum it has been decided to share procedures and processes already developed by the GFLJD. Thus, the Compact and Forum will work as a sister organization to the GFLJD.

II. Compact and Forum Objectives

There are many groups active in promoting the rule of law and access to justice, at the inter-governmental, international, national and local levels. The Compact and Forum will co-ordinate, augment and support, rather than duplicate, this work. Its membership will comprise professional associations of lawyers, that is law societies and bar associations.  The Compact and Forum aims to achieve the following broad objectives:

  • To encourage law societies to sign the Compact, harnessing the collective perspective, purpose and power of the global legal profession towards the advancement of the rule of law and access to justice as a tool for sustainable development;
  • To establish a Forum to connect law societies and their member lawyers throughout the world and provide them with access to the knowledge and resources they need to build a robust and independent legal profession;
  • To raise awareness of the challenges faced by legal practitioners across the globe, creating a safe space of discussion;
  • To co-ordinate the existing work of lawyer collectives across the world in implementing tangible ideas that help countries achieve the rule of law and access to justice in support of sustainable development.

To achieve these objectives, the Compact and Forum will rely on a clear structure of governance and decision-making. Communication among Members is built upon clarity, transparency, and trust. In establishing the Forum’s work programs, Members are requested to give careful attention to both results and effectiveness, as well as to the promotion of Compact and Forum’s values.

Due to the importance of collaboration and communication for the Compact and Forum, a law society’s Membership of the Forum may be terminated in the event of such Member’s inactivity. Inactive Members are those that do not respond to the Secretariat for an extended period of time and after repeated efforts or are never active in any Working Groups or events within the Compact and Forum.

III. Compact and Forum Activities

By subscribing to the Compact and Forum, Members intend to provide innovative, dynamic solutions, practices and knowledge to improve sustainable development outcomes. Knowledge activities/products may be geared toward the following purposes:

  • First, by signing the Compact in order to join the Compact and Forum, law societies will have made a commitment to promoting the rule of law and improving access to justice within their countries and internationally as a tool of sustainable development.
  • Second, the Compact and Forum will bring lawyers together at meetings and conferences, forging a connection between law societies, allowing for the amplifying of voices to draw attention to failures in the rule of law.
  • Third, the Compact and Forum will act as a medium for connecting law societies online, disseminating knowledge and for setting standards with respect to how law societies could contribute to achieving the core goals, including by developing better governance for their own organizations, as well as committing to developing initiatives within their countries for improving access to justice.
  • Finally, the Compact and Forum will act as a centralized co-ordination function for the implementation of many existing excellent initiatives in the field of rule of law and access to justice. This could include:
    • brokering between law societies needing support and law societies able to provide that support in terms of implementing initiatives for the promotion of the rule of law or access to justice;
    • law societies gathering data on or providing assessments of particular aspects of the rule of law in various jurisdictions;
    • leveraging funds available from private sector organisations in order to implement best practice initiatives across a broader geographic area;
    • implementing some of the recommendations of other fora including, as an initial project, those of the High-Level Group on Access to Justice for Women;
    • enabling exchanges, training and other capacity building initiatives for members to help strengthening the rule of law.

IV. Nature of the Membership and Adherence Procedure

The Compact and Forum Members may contribute in any of the following forms:

  • Providing staff time, travel and logistics support relating to Compact and Forum activities/products
  • Providing an annual financial contribution with no minimum requirement.
  • Knowledge sharing by contributing to the Compact and Forum website with existing knowledge products (e.g., studies, databases, training material, etc.);
  • Mobilizing their own staff for the pursuit of Compact and Forum objectives and the assistance of the Compact and Forum Secretariat;
  • Promoting expert meetings, workshops, and/or open trainings sessions to jointly build technical capacity and to strengthen the understanding of global, regional and country legal issues;
  • Providing facilities for workshops, conferences and/or training seminars;
  • Providing translations of relevant documents into their native languages for wider dissemination in their respective countries;
  • Providing updates in specific areas of national legislation;
  • Assisting with the maintenance of the website;
  • Engaging in and funding studies/researches and publications;
  • Increasing cooperation on global, regional and country issues, in concert with other interested parties, by developing a shared understanding of key legal development challenges and promoting complementarities in their studies and knowledge products;
  • Providing support to relevant stakeholders;
  • Such other means as the Members may agree.

To become a “Member” a Letter of Endorsement is signed by the President and/or a senior Officeholder of the future Member organization, expressing its commitment therein to the Compact and to contribute to activities of the Compact and Forum, a questionnaire is completed regarding baseline levels of adherence to international standards, a due diligence and integrity-vetting assessment is conducted by the Secretariat, and if satisfied, the Board approves the admission of the Member. A Member must also:

  • be legally constituted in its jurisdiction and provide copies of its constitutional documents to the Secretariat of the Compact and Forum on request;
  • comply with the Conflict of Interest policy of the Compact and Forum;
  • not act in a manner which is prejudicial to the aims or interests of the Compact and Forum.

The Member can then appoint a representative as its Ambassador to the Compact and Forum – which should be a senior member of their staff with the right expertise and commitment – to act, represent and serve as the point of contact between the Compact and Forum and the Member. This person would be responsible for and mandated to drive rule of law initiatives forward and will, if relevant, exercise the voting rights on behalf of the Member. Members will vote to appoint Members to the Board after the initial term and may vote on whether to adopt the products of Working Groups.

Any Member may withdraw from the Compact and Forum at any time. Such withdrawal shall become effective upon receipt of a written notification of withdrawal by the Secretariat.

Any Member inactive in the Compact and Forum’s activities (WG, Newsletter, Events, etc.) for more than two (2) consecutive years will be expressly notified by the Secretariat of the potential termination of the Member’s membership. The Member may choose to withdraw from membership. If no response is received, the termination shall become effective 30 days after the Secretariat’s notification.

The Board may terminate the membership of any Member at any time if the Member fails to observe the provisions of the Compact or acts in a manner which is prejudicial to the aims or interests of the Law Societies’ Compact and Forum for SDG16. Full justification should be given as to the reasons behind the termination.

V. The Board

The Board is the supreme governing body of the Compact and Forum and is composed by the following members (“Members”)

  • Chairperson of Board
  • Deputy Chairperson
  • World Bank Legal Vice-Presidency (“WB LEGVP”) member appointed by the Senior Vice President (if not serving as Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson).

Board members after the initial term will serve on the Board for a term of two years renewable. The Board should consist of a minimum of [six] and a maximum of twelve members.

An alternate Board member is appointed by each Member to act in its name and on its behalf in case of absence, incapacity or impediment of that representative.


For an initial term expected to be three but possibly up to four years, the Board of the Compact and Forum shall be chaired by the General Counsel of the World Bank Group (or designated alternate) and a representative of the Law Society of England and Wales acting as Deputy Chairperson. Other members of the Board shall be co-opted by the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson from among the representatives of the Members to create a small, agile and dynamic group from diverse backgrounds.

The priority tasks of the first Board shall be:

  • to encourage take up of membership of the Compact and Forum by a diverse range of law societies and bar associations;
  • to determine the rules and procedures for size, make-up and election of subsequent Board from among the representatives of the Members;
  • to agree whether and, if so, which thematic issues should be the focus of activity of Working Groups, bearing in mind the need to be able to react quickly to serious situations;
  • to approve the establishment of Working Groups and their terms of reference in accordance with those themes (if any).

The Board will also have the following continuing roles and responsibilities:

  • Elect a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson from among their number
  • Approve new members;
  • Agree changes to the Governance Rules of the Compact and Forum
  • Decide on operational strategies and procedures;
  • Approve the establishment of WGs, their terms of reference and review their performance;
  • Guide the work of the Secretariat;
  • Making decisions regarding termination of Membership for failure to abide by the provisions of the Compact or prejudicial action.

On an occasional basis and in accordance with the agreement of Board members, other Members’ representatives or technical experts may deliver fundamental information to assist the Board on the decision-making process for a specific topic.

Role of the Chairperson

Meetings of the Board shall be chaired by the Chairperson of the Board (or deputy Chairperson)

In case of a tie, the Chairperson shall have a casting vote.

The Chairperson promotes commitment of Members to the Compact and Forum and its work. With the support of the Secretariat she/he will also ensure that meetings are planned effectively and that they focus on Members’ key issues and priorities.


Ordinary Board meetings: These take place regularly, typically twice a year and may be held either in person or virtually, via electronic means.

Quorum: Two thirds of the Members constitute a quorum for opening a session of the Board.

Decision-Making: The Board will strive to make all decisions by consensus, i.e. when no Member blocks a decision. A dissenting Member that does not wish to block a decision may state an objection to be recorded in the meeting minutes. When consensus cannot be reached, decisions will be taken by a simple majority.

Observers: The Board may invite any Member, Partner and/or contributors as Observers. Observers will be granted the right to speak at the Board on a relevant topic but will have no voting rights pertaining to the decision-making process on any topic.

Contributors: to become a contributor, the following conditions must be fulfilled:  

  • Providing an annual financial contribution with no minimum amount requirement
  • Providing staff time, travel and logistics support relating to GFLJD activities/products

VI. Secretariat

The Compact will share the GFLJD Secretariat. The Secretariat is housed in the World Bank, Washington DC, and is legally operating as part of the Bank. The Secretariat’s staff costs are funded by the World Bank and by all Members that provide staff.

The Secretariat is responsible for the general coordination of the Compact and Forum’s policies and approved work plans and reports to the Chairperson of Board on the progress of activities and progress against results targets.

The staff of the Secretariat will be selected by the World Bank based on the professional profiles required for the efficient delivery of the tasks assigned to the Secretariat.

The Secretariat will have the following duties:

  • Moderate, coordinate, participate and support the WGs;
  • Be the interface between the Members and the Board;
  • Organize specific events involving partnership;
  • Coordinate and support the fund-raising efforts of the Board;
  • Reach out to potential Members, with special attention to Members from developing countries;
  • Support the Board by drafting conceptual and procedural documents, organizing Board meetings;
  • Update the Board on a regular basis.
  • Connect the needs of the donors with these of the Members, by assisting the former in finding projects to fund and the latter in finding donors for their projects.

The Secretariat may be supported in these activities by ad hoc steering groups with the approval of the Board.

VII. Finance

For purposes of these guidelines, “funding” / “funds” shall refer to financial and monetary contributions made to the Compact and Forum projects and/or, as applicable, multi-donor or single donor trust funds. Leaders of a Working Group are responsible for seeking funding, with the assistance of the Secretariat. 

Funding of projects is subject to the approval of the Board, as well as the availability, readiness and financial capability of donors, and the ability of executing partners to absorb certain costs and requirements associated with reporting and project implementation. 

Financial contributions may be made through the World Bank’s Externally-Financed Output mechanism or by providing a secondment staff assigned to the Compact and Forum Secretariat.

Terms and conditions of specific instruments will be governed by the applicable policies and agreements, as they may be amended from time to time. Acceptance of a financial contribution by the Compact and Forum or one of its Members does not constitute an endorsement of the contributor or its activities/business, nor will it have an impact on any business relationship with the Members.

As they become available, funds shall be allocated to the implementation of projects.  Funds shall be channeled to the Secretariat, who will ensure that the financing and disbursement process are in accordance with World Bank rules and procedures on procurement. The Secretariat will then liaise with the Leaders of the Working Group to draft, finalize and execute the appropriate contracts for the purposes of disbursement.

Working Group Leaders are responsible for the trickling-down of funds to the implementing partners. Working Group Leaders or executing partners must submit a report on an annual basis detailing the project or Working Group’s expenses and progress to the Secretariat. A copy of the reporting documents shall be transmitted, for review, to the Board. 

VIII. The Working Groups (WGs)

The WGs are the core of the Compact as they provide an innovative and dynamic system to work collaboratively with a wide variety of stakeholders, which may include experts with specialist knowledge in relevant areas for the benefit of the Compact and Forum and its members. According to the enrolment process, each Member will be asked to nominate a representative to take part in the activities of the Compact and Forum and may subsequently be invited to take part also in specific working groups.

The WGs will have a duration of a maximum of two years, with any extension subject to the Board approval.

Accordingly, a new WG can be launched by:

  • The Board
  • One or several Members subject to the Board approval

The Secretariat at the request of the Board will launch a call for proposals for Compact and Forum Members which may be based around a theme or series of themes for a period. The selection process will be carried out by the Board within a timeframe specified in the call for proposal. Proposals will not be accepted unless accompanied by a concept note setting out the required resources, methodology, deliverables, expected impact, and plans for follow-up to ensure embedding of good practice and timetable for the project being proposed.

The maximum number of WGs at any one time will be [8/set by the Board at a level] to ensure proper supervision by the Secretariat and Board.

WGs will be led by one representative that will provide overall leadership in the implementation of the agreed activities. In particular, the leader will be in charge of:

  • planning and implementing the activities relevant to the work program on an annual basis with support from the Secretariat.
  • Leading the development of expected outputs and outcomes from the activities with members agreement;
  • Communicating with members of the WG to maintain dynamism, in particular but not limited to, following up on activities and commitments;
  • Ensuring that gender balance, regional diversity is maintained in WG activities; 
  • Helping identify resources, opportunities and potential collaborations that would benefit the WG and allow it to carry out its activities;
  • providing the Board with the following deliverables:
    • A Proposal of their annual work program with expected outputs and outcomes (based on draft template developed by the Secretariat);
    • A brief annual report on progress of the activities and outputs of the WG.

Internal operation of the Working Groups:

Members of each WG will also identify additional Members that may be invited to join the WG to include valuable intellectual contributions.  Special attention will be paid to ensure gender balance and regional diversity in the selection of WG members. The inclusion of specialists in other areas that can bring a multidisciplinary perspective is strongly encouraged.

Overall the WG members will have the following duties:

  • Fill out and provide to the Secretariat the Concept Note of the WG indicating expected deliverables;
  • Report workload information to the Secretariat monthly;
  • Share current knowledge programs of each member in selected topics;
  • Organize meetings;
  • Agree on the working language and procedures for collaboration (frequency and forms of meetings);
  • Identify on-going and/or upcoming related activities at the country and regional levels for potential collaboration;
  • Work as a team to deliver the products/activities that have been agreed in the work program.
  • Present the deliverables of the WG.

Each member of the WGs will cover its own staff costs.

IX. Partners

All relevant institutions with an interest in promoting the rule of law and access to justice for sustainable development may be invited with the agreement of the Board to partner with the Compact and Forum  in order to promote the aims and interests of the Compact and Forum

To become a “Partner”:

  • a Letter of Endorsement is signed by a senior Officeholder of the future Partner organization, expressing its commitment therein to aims and values of the Compact and Forum and specifying how it proposes to contribute to activities of the Compact and Forum;
  • a due diligence and integrity-vetting assessment is conducted by the Secretariat, and
  •  if satisfied, the Board approves the admission of the Partner.

The relationship with the Partner may be ended if the Partner;

  • fails to comply with the Conflict of Interest policy of the Compact and Forum;
  • acts in a manner which is prejudicial to the aims or interests of the Compact and Forum.

A Partner may appoint a non-voting representative who may be invited to attend Board meetings and Working Group where relevant to partnership activities.

Partners may apply to participate in the Compact and Forum’s Annual General Meetings and Conferences, subject to payment of appropriate fees and acceptance of the application to participate.

X. Annual General Meeting

Representatives of Law Societies which are members of the Compact and Forum and Partners shall meet physically or online at least once a year to review the operations of the Compact and Forum during the preceding year. The meeting shall be convened by the Secretariat upon request from the Board, which shall set its agenda, subject to reasonable notice to the Members of no less than six weeks. Attendance shall be restricted to two representatives per Member and one per Partner and, if any matters are put to a vote, each Member shall have one vote. In the event of a tie on any resolution, the WB LEGVP shall have a casting vote.  Partners have only a consultative voice.