P   R   O   J   E   C   T       B   O   S   N   I   A

With the destruction of the old totalitarian order, a democratic, united Europe committed to market competition is emerging. What happens in Bosnia is key to how the new world order will define itself.

Dean Perritt believes that Internet technologies, developed over the years by young people at many institutions of higher learning and honed by faculty, staff and students, can help rebuild Bosnian law libraries, law schools, the court system and legislative processes. In other words, a virtual legal infrastructure will replace mortar, bricks and paper. From that belief Project Bosnia was born—a student-run, grass roots initiative of global proportions.

"The free flow of information breeds truth and affects change," said Dean Perritt, one of the country's leading scholars on the synergy between information technology and the law. "Before citizens can bring about change, they must be heard. Affording a voice expedites the healing process. Information technology can amplify that voice."

Dean Perritt served as Deputy Undersecretary of Labor and was a member of the White House staff during the Ford Administration. He also served as a presidential adviser on Internet policy in the Bush and Clinton Administrations. Six years ago, he developed a plan for putting government agencies on the information superhighway for the Clinton transition team.

Just how can the Internet play a role in restoring the rule of law? According to Project Bosnia co-founder Stuart Ingis, the Internet is the ideal tool for implementing change in Bosnia. "The idea behind Project Bosnia is that to have a civil society, the legal community must be able to exchange information. Bosnia needs to rebuild its infrastructure and the Internet is the most efficient and inexpensive way to

do that," says Mr. Ingis, who traveled to Central and Eastern Europe three times while a law student at Villanova.

For a number of years, the Internet has been revolutionizing the legal system in the United States. Most current federal appellate court opinions are available to anyone through the World Wide Web. More state courts are putting their decisions online. Federal and state agencies use the Web and e-mail to broaden citizen participation in rulemaking.

Law students and professors exchange views and publish their work through hundreds of email exchanges, news groups and Web-based discussion forums. Lawyers and clients even go online to settle disputes.

"Information technology already enhances our legal institutions," said Dean Perritt. "Imagine the impact of the Internet in Bosnia, where the traditional ways of obtaining information like law libraries and printing presses no longer exist."

In addition to a law library that houses thousands of paper books or a courthouse that contains legal records and court decisions, a single desktop

computer linked to another computer anywhere in the world can access pertinent legal information essential to professionals, government officials and judges. Yet, aside from connecting to the outside world, the Internet can also link members of the Bosnian legal community to each other. Thus, by providing immediate access to their own judicial opinions and newly drafted laws, Bosnians will be able to quickly rebuild their legal system.

"An Internet-based infrastructure is crucial to the kind of information exchange that is the life blood of day-to-day operations of parliamentary institutions, courts, Ombudsmen (the international group charged with monitoring human rights violations) and the bar within Bosnia," said Dean Perritt.

Eventually, the Internet will play a role in dispute resolution. With thousands of people dislocated by the war and with real property and boundaries in dispute, the World Wide Web becomes a global courtroom, covering larger distances and broader constituencies. For instance, Project Bosnia, through a $50,000 grant from the Soros Foundation, has equipped the justices of the Federation Constitutional Court with Pentium computers and linked


Team members bid farewell before embarking on a trip to Bosnia.


Page 3

Next Page