Internet Silk Road A Project of the Internet Bar Organization
About Internet Silk Road Page 1
About IBO Shaping the future of Online Justice & Collaboration Worldwide www.internetbar.org
The Internet Bar Organization (IBO) seeks to promote and shape the emerging online justice community. To forward this goal, the IBO is currently engaged in several different initiatives. Our current projects include: •
The Micro-Commerce Justice Initiative. The IBO is helping support micro-credit lenders and networks as they reach out to local entrepreneurs in the developing world.
The Internet Bar Organization Institute (IBOi). The IBOi offers law, business and mediation focused continuing education programs. These courses are helping successfully establish businesses by keeping them current with emerging fields of law. Several courses are approved for MCLE/CLE credits. See if this applies to your state!
The IBO Resource Center. The IBO has a vast network of lawyers, mediators and business professionals to help answer any of your questions. The IBO is also in the process of creating our online database of legal and business forms.
The Online Dispute Resolution Credentialing Curriculum. The IBO is developing a uniform curriculum for online dispute resolution. This curriculum will serve to ensure that online dispute resolution professionals are certified to the highest level of training.
© 2010 Internet Bar Organization
About the Internet Silk Road Project As Afghanistan emerges from political and economic insecurity into an era where good governance, development and economic stability may prove to be the best bulwark against political disintegration and conflict, much remains to be done in these areas to bolster economic development. Twenty-three years of violence have caused distress in every facet of development – from the country’s economic conditions, justice infrastructures, and education, to the employment opportunities of its citizens. Today’s women occupy an impoverished class of Afghan society: only 34% of women 15-24 years are literate, a disproportionate few have access to justice, and Afghanistan has yet to decriminalize violence against women [2005 Millennium Development Goals, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Country Report. 26 Oct. 2009]. Improvement does not seem likely without outside support as millions of impoverished Afghans displaced internationally return to their homeland, with 1.7 million returning
from Pakistan alone [UNHCR, UNHCR and Pakistan Sign New Agreement on Stay of Afghan Refugees, 13 March 2009]. Through Internet Bar Organization's Internet Silk Road Project we hope to bring Afghanistan’s informal market sector, which has engulfed most of Afghanistan’s small business in the last two decades of conflict, into the formal economy. Besides farmers and smallscale urban businesspeople, a massive untapped informal workforce exists in Afghanistan’s women, who have been shut out of the formal economy since the Taliban first took power in the early 1990s. The Internet Silk Road Project seeks to establish a domestic and international online marketplace to economically empower Afghan women and future generations. This marketplace must necessarily be built on the three supportive pillars of technology, law, and online dispute prevention and resolution systems. We are currently in our research and partnership development phase, after which we plan to conduct pilot studies
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with our partners related to these three pillars, namely:
mechanisms fully aligned with rule of law.
1. Technology: Cultivating and developing partnerships to support internet access through mobile devices and development of marketplace mobile applications;
By helping program participants to enter the realm of sustainable ecommerce business they can begin to better reach the global marketplace on their own.
2. Law: Research and identify rules and mechanisms for establishing online identity; development and training in the use of enforceable contracts in the online market place; research and adapt current electronic property registration programs (as a means to establish secured credit mechanisms to enable growth through capital investment); and
Once the Afghan and Bangladeshi research and pilot projects have been completed and best practices have been evaluated, IBO envisions taking the models developed and implemented in Afghanistan to other South Asian countries in the Internet Silk Road, especially Sri Lanka, also emerging from 25 years of conflict and in need of rule of law-strengthening initiatives. An efficient land mapping and registration system, coupled with online mechanisms for landowners to leverage their property assets for credit, will go a long way in improving the stability and security of the northern Sri Lanka.
3. Online Dispute Prevention and Resolution System: Research the adaptation of traditional justice mechanisms to an online setting using mobile phone technology. Integral to this entire process will also be training and consultation sessions (both in-person and virtually) with lawyers, educators, providers, and other advisers who will help users gain technological literacy and build a culture of trust and respect for the rule of law. Emphasis will be on interfacing with current informal practices and creating interfaces transitioning dispute resolution to formal ÂŠ 2010 Internet Bar Organization
Mobile banking and mobile commerce in Afghanistan
Online commerce and Online Dispute Resolution are becoming mainstream methods of conducting business in the developed world. The use of the Internet to conduct commerce has drastically cut transaction costs and the use of Online Dispute Resolution has vastly reduced the caseload of the formal judicial systems in much of the West. In developing nations, especially those emerging from years of conflict with judicial and commercial infrastructures that have been severely stunted by years of political instability, the use of these online mechanisms could have a leapfrog effect: in bypassing the need to wait for the judiciary and the national commercial infrastructure to completely recover, the poor can begin to conduct commerce. Mobile phone adoption is dramatically higher than computer literacy in much of the Global South and Afghanistan is no exception. Our proposed program uniquely recognizes this differentiation in technological adoption in Afghanistan, where some 15% of the population own cell phones but only 0.2% have computers. Further supporting factors for a mobile phone-centric program are the ability for illiterate users to use interactive voice response, to connect to operators, and feasibility for areas with sparse electricity and internet connectivity. Internet interfaces for the system will focus on management and monitoring of the system as well as servicing more technologically literate users. ÂŠ 2010 Internet Bar Organization 4
Land Mapping and Dispute Resolution in Bangladesh
Land tenure formalization is a policy many developing countries have undertaken in the past two decades to improve the security of the poor where largely informal use of land has marginalized them. Hernando De Soto, a Peruvian economist, was the pioneer proponent of this method of poverty alleviation. He argued that the poor in developing countries already possess the assets to draw themselves out of poverty, but hold these assets in informal and “defective” forms: “houses built on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them.” The undocumented nature of these assets prevents them from being used effectively, and therefore, the solution is to formalize their ownership so that the poor can access credit, in the form of mortgages and loans, to invest in and improve their own lives. In addition to improving Afghan's access to credit, land tenure formalization will also address and reduce land-related disputes that have arisen because of the informal system of land tenure. [See Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism © 2010 Internet Bar Organization 5
IBO Partners in the Internet Silk Road Project
Dr. Mirza Hassan, lead researcher at BRAC Development Institute Michelle L. Mount, researcher at BRAC Development Institute; IBO member and researcher
Online Dispute Resolution and Microjustice initiative:
Schenkman will be involved in research and grant-writing, and will also conduct documentary work while in Afghanistan on our project. Ruha Devanesan, Vice Presidentelect, IBO. Ms. Devanesan is leading project development, research and grant writing.
Cell phone commerce and mapping:
Vikki Rogers, Director of the Institute of International Commercial Law, Pace Law School SMU Masters program on Dispute Resolution; led by IBO board member Dan Rainey and Alma Jadallah of the American University School of International Service. Dr. Linton Wells, National Defense University, Afghanistan Jin Ho Verdonschot, Faculty of Law, University of Tilburg Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Civil Law and Conflict Resolution Systems (TISCO) Ethan Katsh, Director of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution, University of Massachusetts
Todd Huffman - mobile developer who has implemented key technology projects in Afghanistan Michelle L. Mount, BRAC Development Institute – researcher in micro-finance and implementing technologies in mobile telephony; IBO member and researcher NET1 (South Africa)* Cell Bazaar (Bangladesh)* – creator and operator of mobile telephone micro-commerce platforms.
Amir Zeb Khan, GIS specialist and consultant
Collaborators in situ: IBO Afghanistan Team:
Jeffrey Aresty, President, IBO Valerie Schenkman, Vice President-elect, IBO. Ms.
© 2010 Internet Bar Organization
Marnie Gustavson, Executive Director, PARSA The Afghan National Solidarity Programme* BRAC, Bangladesh
* These partnerships are still in development and have not yet been confirmed.