The 2018 Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe


The CEELI Institute was honored to again support the Annual Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, hosted in Vilnius by the Supreme Court of Lithuania from May 27-29, 2018. The Conference was originally launched in Prague, at the Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the personal commitment of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The Conference is now a self-sustaining body that meets annually, and provides the opportunity for the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas, and work towards solutions. Front and center among this year’s discussions were the ongoing challenges to judicial independence that continue to be seen and felt across the region.

The Conference continues to rotate between member states, and each year is hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), Croatia (2015), Serbia (2016), and Hungary (2017). The 2019 Conference will be hosted in Bratislava by the Supreme Court of Slovakia. The CEELI Institute is delighted to continue to play an active and important role inthe organization and continuity of this program.

Among the achievements of the Conference has been the signing, in 2015, of the Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, known now as the Brijuni Statement (after the seaside town in Croatia where the 2015 Conference was held). The Brijuni Statement is modeled after a similar effort undertaken by the Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific, which resulted in the adoption of the Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary in 1995. The Brijuni Statement is a reaffirmation of a long-held and shared belief amongst its signatories in judicial independence and the obligation to uphold the rule of law. The CEELI Institute is gratified to be able to support the publication and distribution of the Brijuni Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, and the Statement has been available on the CEELI Institute website. It joins other useful legal instruments addressing judicial independence, the drafting of which have been supported by the CEELI Institute, including the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A Thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices.

New Partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)


The CEELI Institute is delighted to join in a partnership with the International Foundation Electoral Systems (IFES) on a new project to strengthen the implementation of anti-corruption standards in Europe, with particular focus on Bulgaria, Romania, and Montenegro. The project will focus first on the identification of priority substantive anti-corruption reforms, and then on steps to assist local stakeholders in implementation of those reforms; for example, the project will assist in addressing as of yet unmet recommendations arising out of the evaluation processes undertaken by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). This project is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International, Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

This latest project continues long-standing collaborative work between CEELI and IFES, which has included organization of a number of joint roundtables at the Institute in Prague, as well as the hosting of IFES regional events. We are excited about this important opportunity for continued engagement.

CEELI has helped to assemble an impressive consortium for this project, to include the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, the Expert Forum in Romania, and the Centre for Monitoring and Research in Montenegro (CeMI). This consortium will partner with domestic stakeholders and influencers in the three countries to identify, prioritize, and create action plans to tackle relevant anti-corruption reform recommendations. In this newly-launched project, the team will be working with local civil society partners in each target country, as well as judicial, electoral, and political actors, to prioritize anti-corruption reforms; map stakeholders that may support or block reforms; identify specific steps to ensure these reforms are implemented; and spearhead actual implementation (coordinating with other organizations and projects focused on corruption efforts in the target countries).

CEELI Launches Three Part Training Series on Preparation of Cases for Appeal Before the European Court of Human Rights


In October, the CEELI Institute, working in cooperation with the Centre de la Protection Internationale (Strasbourg), launched the first session of what will ultimately be a three part course for young lawyers seeking to deepen their competency to work on cases involving violations of the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, and seeking to perfect appeals of those violations to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in Strasbourg. The ECtHR is currently among the most important avenues of international appeal and review open to citizens seeking redress from final judgments in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Such redress is particularly important for citizens of European countries which are not members of the European Union, such as Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia.

This course curricula will be delivered in three separate, interactive sessions, each lasting five days. The sessions will be spaced over the next seven months, and require commitment from participants to attend each session. The final session will include a moot court hearing in Grand Chamber in the ECtHR, in Strasbourg. The Faculty consists of attorneys working in the ECtHR’s administration, as well as former ECtHR judges or lawyers, who have been working in the ECtHR for decades, and who are well qualified to explain the peculiarities of the Convention based on their own cases.

This course also offers an exceptional opportunity for further mentorship for the participants by our committed faculty members. Thus, between the sessions, the participants can reach out to faculty for advice on cases or execution of ECtHR decisions in their country. The course also addresses strategic steps to undertake in the execution of the ECtHR’s decisions—a critical final step if the decisions are to have lasting impact.


CEELI Welcomes the Hon. Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada


The CEELI Institute was delighted to welcome the Hon. Beverley McLachlin to Prague, as the keynote speaker for our Annual Meeting in late June. Justice McLachlin recently completed her 17 year term as Chief Justice; she was the first woman to hold that position, and was also the longest serving Chief Justice of Canada. Justice McLachlin spoke eloquently about the current challenges to establishment of the Rule of Law, the trends towards its “unraveling” in certain regions, and the need for effective responses to that trend. She promoted the notion of a shared international value and understanding of the Rule of Law, as something that transcends even national values. Justice McLachlin concluded by noting the work of the Institute in advancing the Rule of Law; She stated that “the CEELI Institute stands as a testament that the Rule of Law offers the best way forward.” Justice McLachlin continues to sit on the International Advisory Board of the Institute.

Judge McLachlin was joined by a number of other speakers at the Annual Meeting, including the Hon. John Walker, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit,  Andrew Kramer, New York Times, Moscow Bureau, Jacek Kucharczyk, Institute of Public Affairs, Warsaw, Poland, Marta Pardavi, Co-chair, Hungarian Helsinki Foundation, Budapest, Benjamin Tallis, Institute for International Relations, Prague, Artem Sytnyk, Director, National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), Ukraine, Judge Marin Mrčela, President of the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) and Justice of the Supreme Court of Croatia, and Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, Access Info Europe, Spain.

New Publication: Application of EU Instruments in Criminal Justice


The CEELI Institute is happy to present a new publication summarizing legal tools within EU legislation applicable in domestic criminal justice. The brochure is among the outcomes of a judicial trainings program, conducted in cooperation with the Association of Croatian Judges, and funded by the European Commission.

It was authored by Justice Marin Mrčela, the President of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), and Zuzana Vikarská, lecturer in constitutional law and human rights at the Law Faculty of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.

The publication is available for free distribution in English, Czech and Croatian.

To view and download, please follow this link.