«   »

Letter from Ronald Sokol to Mary Lee Stapp, Wednesday, March 13, 1996

SOKOL LAW OFFICES [itals.] RONALD P. SOKOL
AIX-EN-PROVENCE ATTORNEY-AT-LAW
FRANCE AVOCAT A LA COUR

Ms. Mary Lee Stapp
35 Campana Road
COPY FOR YOUR
INFORMATION
London SW6 4AT
ANGLETERRE

Wednesday, 13 March, 1996

Dear Mary Lee:

It was a pleasure to speak to you and to learn more about the project. As I said, it sounds
both fascinating and much needed. It also sounds as if the right people are involved. I shall
be very happy to be a part of your team, provided, as I say, that it does not become too
time consuming.

I am enclosing a brochure of my firm which includes some biographical information.

I look forward to meeting you in the not too distant future. Please feel free to call me at
any time or to give my name to others involved in the project. My home phone number is
(33) 42-92-00-35.

Sincerely yours,

[handwritten signature]

Ronald P. Sokol

Copy: Prof. Daniel J. Meador

Wednesday, 13 March, 1996
STAPPMAR.LEE

Téléphone : 42.92.08.20 Mailing adress [sic] 14, rue Principale – B.P. 3 Fax : 42.92.14.51
Adresse postale 13540 Puyricard – France

[end of letter]

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02, 1996

CONFIDENTIAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

To: Ms. Gay McDougall
Executive-Director, International Human Rights Law Group
Washington D.C.

Copy: Professor Daniel J. Meador
James Monroe Professor of Law, University of Virginia, School of
Law, Charlottesville, Virginia

From: Ronald P. Sokol

Date: March 02, 1996

Re: Report and Recommendations

After visit to Cambodia between February 10th and March 4th 1996 to teach contract
and tort law to Cambodian judges and clerks as part of the Law Group’s Cambodian
Court Training Project (“CCTP”). Visited: Kampong Chnang, Kandal, Kampong
Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Seam Riep, Kampot.

Background

In the summer of 1995 Dan Meador visited us in France and asked if I would be
interested in teaching in Cambodia. He suggested that my work in both common and
civil law systems as well as my multi-cultural experience might prove to be an asset
to the Law Group. His question threw me back some 25 years. For then my wife and I,
not long after our return to France from Japan, had first met Khantavy Kong, her
brothers and fiance, Hou Nhean. They were all Cambodian students in France. For
the past 25 years we have remained close friends with all of them as they have risen
into the professions in France and elsewhere. And of course the current 1st Prime
Minister of Cambodia, Prince Sihanouk, was studying law in Aix-en-Provence where
we lived. He attended the marriage of our friends and I briefly met him. We often
spoke of Cambodia, and I thus knew from afar something of the tragedies of this
country and was close personal friends with some of its more fortunate citizens. And
so I replied to Dan that if I could get away, I would be interested. Not long thereafter I
received a letter from Laura McGrew, the head of the CCTP in Washington D.C. I
confirmed my interest. Then silence until January of this year when I received a fax
from her asking if I could go to Cambodia in February to train judges for a month in
tort and contract law. On February 10th I landed at the Phnom Penh airport.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 1.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02, 1996

Advance Preparation: Security

The advance preparation of persons such as myself, which the Law Group refers to as
“International Mobile Trainers”, left much to be desired. I was naturally concerned
about issues of security and disease. Yet these issues were not treated in any organized
or comprehensive way by the Law Group. Only after repeated questioning was I able
to elicit enough information to satisfy myself that I would not be in unreasonable
danger. And some of the information I was given turned out to be wrong. Moreover,
the Law Group’s Center in Phnom Penh was itself not well informed, and on one
occasion I had to insist on getting information from the Australian Embassy on the
safety of the road to Kampot and the danger of landmines because I was misinformed
by one of the resident lawyers making melodramatic statements.

I think one explanation of what I considered a casual attitude to these issues is that
many of the people I met were not really interested in the dangers either because of
their youth, their desire for adventure, or their desire actually to be where it was
dangerous. I do not criticize this, but it is obviously not the attitude of an International
Mobile Trainer coming from the civilized world for a short stay and who probably has
a wife and children to worry about.

I recommend that the resident director or deputy director in Phnom Penh prepare a
one page monthly report on issues of security, disease and other potential dangers
which targets the geographic areas where the Law Group personnel is operating. This
would of course be done on the basis of reports from personnel in the field as well as
the security officers of the U.S. and Australian Embassy. I should perhaps note that
Australia has a substantial presence in Cambodia and all the Australians I met were
most cooperative. I could have been spared much concern and loss of time if I had
been given a timely, adequate briefing.

Finally, I should state that my assessment on the ground of the actual dangers is that
they are minimal. Malaria is confined to certain forested areas of the country. There
are no landmines on paved roads or in the cities. There is little automobile traffic, and
it moves slowly. If one drives at a moderate speed, the dangers of a serious accident
are almost non-existent. If one does not go out at night and stays in populated areas
during the day and does not engage in reckless behavior, the danger of theft is also
almost non-existent. If one does not drink the tap water, use ice, eat raw vegetables or
the produce of sidewalk vendors, the risk of stomach upsets appears slight. In my
entire stay I did not once feel sick or have an upset stomach. The only medical
problems I heard about were one case of Dengue fever and one case of an ulcer
resulting from medication being taken to protect against malaria.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 2.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France , Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02, 1996

My conclusion was that there is less risk in living in Cambodia than in France,
England or the United States. In fact, as the IRA began to explode bombs in Canary
Wharf and Shaftesbury Avenue, I had to phone my wife and children who were then
in London to warn them to avoid shopping in Oxford Street as it is a favorite target of
the IRA. The irony of my phoning London from Cambodia to urge my family to take
certain precautions was not lost upon me.

The most significant risk I felt was of a freak accident or an unexpected disease.This
would be serious because there is effectively no adequate medical care in the country,
and one would need to be flown to Bangkok or Singapore. The delay in getting care
could be significant. It is thus desirable to bring in only people who are in good
health. I was surprised that no serious inquiry was made by the Law Group into this
subject prior to my departure.

Advance Preparation: Cultural

No advance material was given to assist me in knowing what to expect upon arrival.
This could easily have been done. For example, there exists an excellent short history
of Cambodia by David Chandler published in 1992. I would have appreciated having
this book called to my attention so that I could have read it prior to my arrival.
Likewise a few pages of general introduction or description of the current political
situation and customs in Phnom Penh and the provinces, current legal topics being
discussed and debated, other non-government organizations present, something about
the Khmer language, and similar matters would have been of considerable help. The
State Department may have such material already prepared for foreign service officers
and embassy personnel which they would give to the Law Group. It would certainly
be helpful to new persons arriving in Phnom Penh.

Coordination

The Law Group does not appear to be effectively coordinating with anyone, and better
coordination with the Ministry of Justice (“MOJ”), other Non-Governmental
Organizations (“NGO’s”), the Cambodian bar, the small expatriate bar, and the
Cambodian Law School, must surely rank as of of [sic] my principal recommendations for
improvement. Not only is there no effective, ongoing contact with our Embassy and
own government, but there is likewise no close cooperation with the MOJ. There is of
course some contact, but there is not what I would characterize as a close, working
relationship. In my entire stay I did not once meet anyone from the MOJ. One might
contrast to this, the presence of a few legal advisers that the French Government has
placed right in the MOJ.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 3.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02, 1996

The French may be getting more influence in the MOJ and hence on the
administration of justice in Cambodia from one or two advisers strategically placed
than the Law Group is getting from ten to fifteen young lawyers in the provincial
courts. In the absence of a close, working relationship with the MOJ, the CCTP
cannot, in my judgment, have any meaningful impact on the administration of justice
in Cambodia.

There are many other NGO’s in Cambodia involved in the administration of justice,
ranging from the U.N. Judicial Mentor Program which places a Western-trained
lawyer in the courthouse of provincial courts to teach and advise the judges and clerks
to a planned US$ 12.5 million Australian project relating to the criminal justice
system to other projects run by the Asia Foundation. While I tried to learn about these
different NGO programs, I found that the Law Group knew little about them and did
not coordinate at all with them. To me this made no sense whatsoever, and I would
recommend that the Law Group endeavor to learn about all the NGO programs related
to the administration of justice and attempt to coordinate with them, compare notes,
problems, solutions, and future plans. There is apparently a monthly meeting of the
directors of USAID sponsored NGO’s, but this routine meeting unfortunately leads to
no genuine cooperation.

I was also surprised by the absence of coordination or interest in the Cambodian Law
School. As the institution that has primary responsibility for the training of future
lawyers and judges, I would recommend that the Law Group develop a working
relationship with the Law School administration, faculty, and students. It may be that
a program could be developed wherein students in their last year accompany some of
the Law Group’s trainers into the provincial courts. This type of initiative would
involve minimal costs.

On March 1st I visited the Law School together with the deputy director, Thierry
Fagart. We met with three young Frenchmen performing their one year compulsory
military service in Cambodia at the Phnom Penh Law School. France makes extensive
use of such experiences for its young people as a substitute for actual military service
in a uniform. They were law students in France whose student career[s] had been
interrupted. They stated there was one French law professor based at the Phnom Penh
Law School whose name is Jean-Marie Crouzatier. He was not there at the time. He is
head of a project to provide assistance to the Khmer law professors and to assist in the
administration of the Law School. They were not doing any law teaching directly in
French. There is also a French language professor to help the students with their
French.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 4.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France,Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02,1996

The project is also translating Khmer laws into French which raises the issue of
whether the Law Group is translating the same laws. They also produced a 1995 Law
Report in both French and Khmer and would be producing another in 1996 collecting
all the laws with some legal commentary, although the commentary is slight.

Arrival in Phnom Penh: My “Judicial Assistant”

I was met at the airport by Kevin Landy, a young American lawyer who had already
been with the CCTP for nine months. He had been based in the province of Kampong
Chom as a “Judicial Assistant”. He was a bright, conscientious, hard-working young
man who took good care of me. We set to work at once preparing hypotheticals and
notes for sessions on torts and contracts. We soon decided to divide up the material. I
would do contracts and Kevin torts. We continued this division throughout our
sessions. I enjoyed working with him. He had a sharp mind, and we spent many
enjoyable hours while winding our way between bicycles, motorbikes, errant cows,
pigs, chickens, children, oxen-pulled carts, stray water buffalo, saffron-robed monks,
and once even an elephant as Kevin piloted the Law Group’s jeep over pot-holed dirt
roads, and we discussed and refined legal issues under Cambodian, French, and
American law trying to shape our presentation to fit our audiences. The abstruseness
of our discussions had a soporific effect on our interpreters Sovana Mann and Yuth
Soserey who dozed tranquilly in the back seat.

Kevin was well organized, efficient and pleasant to work with. In fact, I could not
have had a more agreeable companion. Yet despite these great virtues Kevin, and all
the other monolingual lawyers and personnel, are severely handicapped by their lack
of knowledge of the Khmer language and their lack of an understanding of any culture
other than their own. All of their perceptions are thus forced through the single
channel of their own culture and language, and the necessity of this passage
significantly narrows their understanding.

I too suffered from an inability to speak Khmer. Teaching through an interpreter is not
only a time-consuming process, but it makes it difficult to decipher the feed-back
from the class. I did have the advantage of being able to get some direct feed-back by
speaking in French to the few judges who spoke it. I also had the advantage of
knowing and feeling a hierarchic language with some similarities to Khmer, of having
lived in a Confucian and Buddhist culture and having lived with my wife for 27 years
who was born, bred, and raised in such a culture.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 5.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02,1996

Certainly a major conclusion that I draw from my experience is that the Law Group
must recruit lawyers who are willing to make the commitment to learn the Khmer
language and to assist and support them in that task. That would require a minimum
three year commitment. During my stay I met only three people who had made that
effort.

In Kampot I met Catherine Gleach, a young English violinist, who had founded a
music school for orphans and handicapped children. She had begun Khmer at the
Institute of Oriental Studies in London and had been in Kampot for six years. She
spoke fluent Khmer. At the Kandal Court I met Karen Tse, a Chinese-American
lawyer who had been with the Law Group for two years but had left it to go with the
United Nations Mentor Program and is now a mentor to the Kandal Court. She too has
made a serious effort to learn the language. While she is not yet fluent she estimates
that she will be within another year. That will make a total of three years which
corresponds with my own estimate of the time needed to become reasonably fluent.
Within the Law Group Judge Juanita Rice is making an effort to learn the language,
but she is not yet too far along in the process. None of the others in the current Law
Group personnel in Cambodia appears to be making a serious effort to learn Khmer.

I should perhaps mention Sos Kem, a retired State Department Foreign Service
Officer now teaching the Khmer language at Cornell University. He was travelling
with a USAID evaluation team, and we had dinner with him in Kampot. He is an
American of Cambodian birth and origin who came to the United States in 1962. His
native language is Khmer, and he speaks English well. He said that he has seven to ten
students studying Khmer at Cornell and that Khmer is taught in the United States only
at Cornell and the University of Hawaii. I would recommend that the Law Group
explore the possibility of sharing costs with those universities to send some of their
students studying Khmer as summer trainees to assist the CCTP. They would improve
their Khmer, provide some help to the project and become an excellent pool of future
recruits.

Our Interpreters

To complicate further the teaching process not only are the Law Group’s teachers
ignorant of the only language spoken by their students, the judges and clerks, but the
Cambodian interpreters being used are not fluent in English and not versed in law.
This is such an extreme situation that I found it comical. The following are a few of
the sentences that I literally transcribed while one of the interpreters (Yuth) translated
a question asked by a Cambodian judge:

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 6.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendation of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall,
March 02, 1996

“The AIDS cannot affect his life without unreasonable.”

“We put something not good we have to that person.”

“He should tie strong more rope.”

“That boy has AIDS diseases already have.”

“He affected to a society problem.”

The interpreters were conscientious, but they lack the necessary English-language
competency. I worked only with two interpreters. Yuth, quoted above, clearly does
not dominate English syntax and would benefit greatly from private tutoring. My
interpreter, Sovana, had a better command of English syntax but does not fully
command the English phonemes and would benefit from the assistance of a qualified
phonetics teacher. A few hours with such a teacher would probably do wonders for his
English. They would also benefit from instruction by a qualified, experienced
interpreter on some of the problems and rules of interpretation.

The Law Group’s Cambodian Office

On my very first day at the Law Group’s Office I felt something was amiss. The place
didn’t feel right. As I began to spend more time there over the next few weeks and to
meet most of the key and non-key players, it soon became apparent that the morale of
all the personnel, lawyers and non-lawyers, was abysmally low. Some personnel had
already left the Law Group because of the situation. Everyone I spoke to had either
decided to leave, was planning on leaving or thinking about leaving. I did not meet a
single person who expressed even qualified satisfaction with their job and the Law
Group except the director and deputy director.

Based on my conversations with both legal and non-legal staff, I could not entirely
rule out the possibility of a mass defection. I would not foresee it happening as an
organized palace coup. I saw nothing to indicate that. In fact, everyone I spoke to
expressed disappointment that it was not a better place to work. They wanted the
CCTP to succeed. I was also favorably impressed with the quality and seriousness of a
number of the people I met. Yet I can quite easily conceive of a situation where over
a short period of time the Law Group suddenly finds that it no longer has anyone left.

3/2/96, REPORT.R PS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 7.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, T elephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02, 1996

There already appears to be little planning for the transition from Phase I to Phase II
of the project by the retention of judicial assistants and senior advisers who will
provide the necessary on-site experience and institutional memory between the two
phases. No doubt part of this is explainable by reference to the USAID funding which
is itself uncertain and the Law Group’s lack of endowment. Yet I have the distinct
impression that this institutional uncertainty does not entirely explain the lack of
planning.

All of my meetings with the director, Gene Murret, and the deputy director, Thierry
Fagart, were cordial. I liked them both, and both made an effort to make my visit
comfortable and were attentive to my needs. Gene undoubtedly has a good knowledge
of the federal judiciary and certain organizational skills. It is equally clear that he is
not in the right job, and this perception is shared by everyone at the Law Group to
whom I spoke, the only difference between them being their degree of fervor or
disgust. It is unclear to me whether Gene himself understands that he is not in the
right job, but if I were forced to guess, I would guess that he does know.

Thierry is personally popular with everyone, but his rudimentary English is
recognized by the staff and presents serious obstacles to his functioning effectively in
an English-speaking environment. While his spoken English is weak, he is able to
communicate. His real handicap is in comprehension of spoken English. He is far
enough along so that his comprehension may improve significantly with time.
Finally, I confess to a certain unease about his political background, not because of
the politics but because of the instability such a background suggests. Thierry told me
that he has been a militant for many years in the Trotskyite Party in France. The
political spectrum in France runs from the extreme right of the National Front, to the
Gaullists, some centrist parties, then on the left the Socialist Party, the French
Communist Party, then at the outer fringes of the left the Trotskyite Party. There the
political spectrum ends except for an occasional anarchist. The Trotskyite Party is of
no political significance whatsoever in French politics and never has been; it is the
“extreme left” and as such generally garners less than 1% of the national vote.

My conclusion is that the Law Group’s office in Phnom Penh and the CCTP are not
functioning well. The Law Group’s highest priority should be to correct this situation
as quickly as possible.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Page 8.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02 ,1996

Specific Recommendations

1. A short summary explanation of the Law Group and the CCTP Project should be
prepared in English, French, and Khmer. I had an introduction to the First
Secretary in the Ministry of Health and when I inquired of the Law Group whether
such an explanation existed in French or Khmer so that I could give it to him, I
discovered that none existed in any language.

2. Some of the provincial courthouses do not have signs stating that they are
courthouses. The symbolic value of the courthouse is apparent. As the Law Group
is already furnishing material assistance to the provincial courts and the cost of
providing signs in Khmer, English and French should be nominal, I would
recommend that this be done for those courts which do not have signs.

3. One court trainer should be responsible for one topic such as torts, contract or land
law and for developing teaching materials in his or her topic.

4. Given the limited resources of the Law Group I would recommend attempting to
cover less courts but to cover them in more depth. It might be possible to target
one or two courts as pilot courts and attempt to raise those courts to a higher level.

5. It should be possible to create a research assistance center much like the CRIDON
that exists in France for the use of French notaries or like student legal research
groups in the U.S. It could be based either at the Law Group’s office in Phnom
Penh or at the Law School. A court could then consult this research center on
specific questions of law or by putting to it a specific set of facts and requesting
help in the analysis. It would thus get the benefit of an independent analysis and
research and would not have to rely on the MOJ.

6. The Law Group should set forth in writing a clear and unambiguous policy on
bribery and corruption of government officials. For example, is it permissible for
the Law Group to pay an employee of the Cambodian Ministry of Justice to assist
in the Court Training Project? If it is not, does it make a difference if the
employee takes a leave of absence? Does it matter that the employee cannot live
on his government salary? Does it matter whether the money is paid directly to the
employee or to the Ministry? Does it matter whether the Ministry is unaware of
what its employee is doing? There appears to be no policy or guidance on these
kinds of issues, some of which came up during my stay.

7. It would be desirable for the Law Group to encourage American law and pre-law
students to come to Cambodia as language students so that the number of Khmer-
speaking Americans is increased.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 9.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02 ,1996

8. It would be desirable to prepare in the Khmer language simple pamphlets on such
subjects as “The Rights of a Victim of an Accident”, “The Rights of
Businessmen”, “Citizens’ Rights”, “The Rights of a Defendant in a Criminal
Case”. The French Ministry of Justice produced a number of such pamphlets in
the early 1980’s that were quite well done.

9. All materials distributed to the courts and outside parties should be marked with
the name of the Law Group.The marking should be standardized so that all
members of the Law Group are using the same one. It should include at the
minimum the name of the organization, the name of the project, the name of the
author of the materials, the name of the Cambodian translator, the date initially
prepared, the last update, the computer file reference, why and for whom the
materials were prepared. It might also be desirable to include the Law Group’s
logo so that non-literate people can learn to recognize it.

10. Age and gender are both significant factors in Cambodia, age perhaps more
than gender. Pairing a younger judicial assistant with a more senior lawyer,
preferably more than forty years old would be a desirable practice.

Corruption

It is widely acknowledged by everyone that I spoke to that corruption pervades the
entire system including the courts and MOJ. Yet no one that I spoke to has any
detailed knowledge of exactly what the term “corruption” means. The term can mean
paying money to obtain a specific result in a specific case or paying to get a trial date
or both. In fact, the nature, range, and meaning of the term “corruption” is
considerable.1 [See footnote below.]

One would think that if the judges were being paid to reach a certain result in all or in
most cases then they would show no interest or only a feigned interest in the CCTP.
Prior to my arrival in Cambodia, I expected that would be the case, but it turned out
not to be.

[Footnote]

1 Judge Noonan of the 9th Circuit wrote an enlightening book on this subject surveying it historically
as well as attempting to analyze it. Noonan, J., Bribery, U. California Press, 19___ ). See Also, the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and commentary related to it.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 10.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02 ,1996

I was pleasantly surprised to find both judges and clerks in all seven provincial courts
genuinely interested in what I had to say. Some of the courts were composed of
brighter judges and clerks than others; some were more ready to ask questions; some
were more formal and ritualistic in their responses to questions; in some courts a few
of the clerks were deadbeats, but I reached the conclusion that there was a genuine
interest on the part of all the judges and most of the clerks in learning contract law, in
understanding the analysis of cases and in legal and judicial methodology. They also
showed a keen interest in methods of proof and the burden of proof in contract
disputes.

CONCLUSION

As I traveled through the Cambodian provinces, studying Chandler’s The History of
Cambodia, conversing with judges and lawyers, standing in wonder before the
temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, admiring 6th and 7th century marble, bronze,
and sandstone statuary in the National Museum in Phnom Penh, and pondering the
problems of Cambodia and the mission of the Law Group, an analogy began to shape
itself in my mind and would not leave. The analogy haunted me, and I decided to
name it the American Confucian Training Project [itals.].

The American Confucian Training Project

In 1996 the world’s population is about six billion people. Of that figure 20% are
Chinese. Let us imagine that 50 or 100 years hence 70% of the world’s population is
Chinese and a grave political conflict develops between the United States and China,
Rather than risk a nuclear holocaust, the United States decides that it will peacefully
submit to China which then announces that it will henceforth be the guardian and the
United States its ward. The Chinese thereupon decide to send a mission to the United
States to teach the Americans how to resolve disputes. Disputes will no longer be
decided by courts but by Confucian methods. The community will thus decide
disputes; village elders will help; disputing parties should look to what is best for the
community and purify themselves; respect should be shown by everyone for elders
and incense sticks should be placed in small temples out of respect for one’s
ancestors.

To implement this project the Chinese send over a delegation of people none of whom
speaks English and none of whom has ever been outside of China. To make their
delegation more international they take with them a Tibetan priest and a Laotian
monk, each of which speaks broken Chinese and no English but are Confucian
scholars.

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 11.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

Confidential Report and Recommendations of Ronald P. Sokol to Ms. Gay McDougall.
March 02, 1996

Upon arriving in Washington D.C. they hire several Americans who speak Chinese
and inform the President and the Attorney-General that henceforth disputes should not
be submitted to courts. A team of two Chinese Confucian trainers and two American
translators who have never been outside the United States and whose knowledge of
Chinese is fragmentary then travel to Waycross, Georgia, Sioux City, Iowa, Omaha,
Nebraska, Madison, Wisconsin, Providence, Rhode Island, and Newport Beach,
California to teach federal and state judges and local officials how disputes are
handled Chinese-style by Confucian methods and the use of village elders.

What would be the likelihood that such a mission could succeed? One’s first reaction
is that this is absurd. There is no way that Americans are going to learn to resolve
disputes by Confucian methods. It is impossible. But if one persists and says, “Yes,
but the world is now 70% Chinese. Is there any way that Confucian methods can be
taught to Americans?” Surely one must respond that it seems an impossible task, but
if one insists on pursuing the apparently impossible, then at the minimum Americans
must achieve a genuine understanding of Confucianism, and they cannot do so if the
Chinese teachers do not even speak English. There must be teachers who can explain
Confucianism to us in our own language and who understand our culture. Some
Americans must go to China to study Confucianism and perhaps upon their return
they can help us understand it. Those Chinese who come here to teach us must speak
English and have some understanding of our tradition as we struggle to understand
concepts that are so foreign to us and that have no analogies within our own tradition.
We no longer even have villages; we have many different religions; it will not be easy
for us, even if we try, and most people will probably not try very hard.

How long will it take for America to become Confucian? A hundred years? Several
hundred? One thousand? How long did it take for Confucianism to pervade China?
We have decided disputes in courts under our Common Law for at least 400 years. If
we go back to the Roman courts our legal tradition is even longer.

Is such an analogy fair? Does it carry any meaning for the CCTP? I have no crystal
ball, but the Confucian analogy should not be readily dismissed; but nor should the
genuine interest in learning about Western legal concepts and tradition shown by the
Cambodian judges and clerks. USAID talks about “democracy projects” and “rule of
law projects”. I am inclined to find them both worthwhile, but the time scale on which
“progress” should be weighed, if not galactic, is greater than that normally tolerated
by the political process in Western democracies.

Ronald P. Sokol
March 2, 1996
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

3/2/96, REPORT.RPS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 12.
Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard, France, Telephone (33) 42-92-08-20, Fax: (33) 42-92-14-51

«   »