Ulex: Where can it do good?
Who needs Ulex?
While the applications of an open source legal system are multitude, there’s no doubt that certain types of societies currently struggling across the globe would reap the greatest benefit from adopting this framework. These can mostly be divided into three categories:
● Regions lacking any strong central government or justice system.
● Regions controlled by authoritarians and featuring closed justice systems.
● Subsets of stable regions looking for greater autonomy or federalization.
Let’s examine each type in turn to see how it may benefit from the Ulex project.
First, we have those places that either don’t have a functional government or institutions, or have ones with extremely limited reach. These are the standard “failed states” of the world, where rule of law if often nonexistent and citizens generally find themselves trapped in the middle of violent power struggles. Somalia, Syria, and more recently Yemen, are some of the nations in this dire situation. As many as 13 nations could currently be counted in this sector according to the most recent Fragile State Index.
Certainly, the people in these places tend to have much more immediate survival concerns than a functional legal code, however the reality is that even in a war-torn country, daily life must still go on in one form or another. Good and services are exchanged, contracts signed, and conflicts arise wholly outside of the greater reality of war or statelessness.
In such a scenario, where there is no trustworthy court or regulatory body to serve as arbiter, the ability to access a reliable method for structuring economic activity becomes extremely valuable. A merchant and their customer could use Ulex to quickly pull up and sign a standard contract agreement on their mobile phones. A minor property or land dispute could be settled by an automated Ulex-based adjudication system. Even a more serious criminal matter could theoretically be resolved by a local council leveraging the Ulex repository to back up their legal reasoning in dispensing a punishment. Ultimately, the ability to maintain an accessible legal structure even absent a central government, can have a major impact on a society retaining some level of cohesion through its most troubled times.
Next up, we have those regions with a well-defined government, but one that operates on authoritarian principles and thus manages a “justice system” fully subservient to its own interests. These types of societies are, disturbingly, on the rise across the world, making paramount the need to develop off-system alternative for the oppressed citizenry. Examples here run the gamut from behemoths like Russia or China, to smaller nations like Venezuela, Egypt or Myanmar. The World Justice Project maintains an index of open governments, and sadly most nations in the bottom half can fit the definition for this type of authoritarian system.
Here the incentive to use a system like Ulex for contracts or disputes is not the lack of a central government or justice system, but the lack of trust in it. Individuals living here are generally well aware of the corruption permeating their institutions and have no reason to believe that they will get a fair trial or judgement. Furthermore, appealing to the system may often be considered dangerous, as any competing party with the right connections of funds could potentially use the same system as an attack against an individual seeking justice.
Once again, easily being able to access an open source alternative would be a viable solution for day-to-day legal needs. In this case, the decentralized nature of the Ulex system presents a further advantage, as individuals could use an encrypted connection to access the framework and thus entirely bypass government controls on internet content and communications.
Lastly, we come to those societies which exist under stable government and reasonably trustworthy legal systems, but which for one reason or another are seeking greater autonomy or a federalized approach to government. We can observe this play out in situations like the Catalan independence movement in Spain, the Scottish independence movement in the UK, the Quebec sovereignty movement, and many smaller separatist factions across the world. Even US states or territories like Puerto Rico could potentially be counted among these in certain use cases.
Ulex can provide a way for these kinds of movements to provide supporters with an alternative, or more likely parallel legal system to the one used by the greater nation these are a part of. Theoretically, leadership could make the case that flag-free system like Ulex offers a better framework for managing certain local matters and promote its use where conflicts with central or federal laws arise. Even a US state could, for example, use Ulex to guide the legal framework around something like Marijuana legalization as this conflicts with federal law and thus cannot count on it for help.
Past these three major use cases, there are of course a myriad situations at the micro level where small urban communities, farmer collectives, online-only groups , etc could benefit form the open source Ulex system. However, the applications at the global scale are a major part of the appeal and social necessity of this project and its continued development.