Voices of the Next Generation: Bringing Change to the Middle East


The CEELI Institute is delighted to be able to announce the continuation of its groundbreaking program bringing together young lawyers from the Middle East to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role that international law can play in its resolution. This program has been generously supported by the International Bar Association for a second year. The program extension will allow us to continue to bring together the diverse group of young lawyers on a quarterly basis at the Institute in Prague, during which participants are able to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine. This program was highlighted last year at the IBA’s annual Rule of Law Forum, in Washington, for an audience of over 300 people, where the young lawyers themselves spoke of the unusual nature of the project and their personal experiences as participants in this kind of dialogue.

The Israeli, Arab, and American mentors who conceived, organized, and facilitated this project will continue to facilitate it, augmented by a roster of experienced former diplomats and negotiators who have dealt with the complex issues that plague the region. We expect the group to continue to address how international law can help lead to potential solutions and compromises, which could bring about change in one of the most persistent conflicts and gravest threats to the rule of law in the world.

Save the Date! The CEELI Institute Annual Meeting: July 9-10, 2017


Mark your calendars to join us in Prague, at the Villa Grebovka, on July 9-10, 2017 for the CEELI Institute‘s Annual Meeting. Once again we look forward to bringing together a diverse cross-section of academicians, government officials and experts, as well as our board members, funders, partners, and friends, to discuss some of the most pressing issues we face in our efforts to advance the Rule of Law in ever more challenging environments. The gathering allows us the opportunity to convene prominent thought leaders from the international development community for frank discussions on the critical challenges facing our region as it struggles with war, corruption, and the rise of illiberal regimes which question the value of democratic transitions. The program will focus not just on problems, but on solutions: What are effective strategies for delivering development assistance and supporting civil society in the face of hostile environments and government repression?

All events will be held at the Villa Grebovka, in Prague. We have limited accommodations for up to 38 guests at the Villa. Since space is limited, if the number of guests exceeds the Villa’s capacity, we will help arrange nearby hotel rooms.

Registration is now open on the CEELI Institute’s website at: http://ceeliinstitute.org/registration-for-the-2017-annual-meeting

Password: prague_2017

“Legislating from Strasbourg” The Impact of Jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights


2017-02-07 at 09-11-36The CEELI Institute was delighted to be able to host a conference on “Legislating from Strasbourg” to examine how the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, and other international human rights law sources influence the enactment and implementation of domestic legislation in COE member countries. The program gathered scholars from a number of COE member countries, with primary involvement being from Masaryk University’s Judicial Studies Institute, in Brno, Czech Republic, and the University of Oslo’s PluriCourts Project, in Norway. The panelists looked (with particular reference to the experiences in Norway, Czech Republic and Slovakia) at the impact of international human rights rulings on national courts, ministries, parliaments and society; challenges that national governments face in implementing international human rights rulings; the role of the media in influencing understanding and acceptance of European Court and international tribunal rulings; and the role of national constitutional courts in implementing and interpreting such rulings.


CEELI Institute Annual Meeting 2016 Wrap-Up


VOL_2832The Villa Grébovka was packed with friends and colleagues from around the world for the Institute’s Annual Meeting on June 26th-28th, 2016. Board members, faculty, donors, former CEELI alums, and many more friends and colleagues came together in Prague for an opportunity to review our efforts over the past year, and to look ahead to programs for the coming year. This year’s meeting focused particularly on the ongoing challenges involved in delivering assistance in environments that are experiencing deliberate repression of civil society. Attention was given not just to the problems, but to possible solutions, including examination of effective strategies for delivering development assistance and supporting civil society in the face of hostile environments and government repression.

We were particularly delighted this year to welcome the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, the Hon. Andrew Schapiro, to speak about the embassy’s on-going efforts to promote anti-corruption initiatives in the Czech Republic. Ambassador Schapiro praised the Institute’s continued efforts across the spectrum of its programming and fielded some excellent questions on the perception of the US government’s efforts in Prague and across the rest of the country.

The Annual Meeting was rounded out with panels that highlighted current CEELI projects, including overviews of the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, and of our on-going anti-corruption courses. Two themed panels addressed Civil Society Organization in Crisis: Strategies for Support and Strategic Lawyering: The Role of Lawyers in Responding to Active Repression of Civil Society and Human Rights. As per usual, the panels proved to be the highlight of the meeting as the Institute welcomed an incredibly impressive array of speakers including Alina L. Romanowski, the U.S. State Department’s Coordinator for Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, Nadia Diuk, Vice President, National Endowment for Democracy, recently released political prisoner and human rights lawyer Rasul Jafarov from Azerbaijan, and Nicola Macbean, Executive Director of The Rights Practice in London.

The event wound down with a cocktail reception at the Villa Grebovka where guests and panelists continued discussions on pertinent issues raised throughout the day. CEELI Institute staff is ever grateful and humbled by the turn-out and support from friends and colleagues from around the globe and are already looking forward to next year’s program!

Promoting Good Practices for Terrorism Adjudication in the Balkans


Group shot CT 1606In June, the CEELI Institute continued its efforts on a multi-year program to engage judges handling complex cases involving issues of terrorism and national security, including the increasingly serious threats posed in Europe by the transit of foreign terrorist fighters. The program, which aims to promote understanding and use of relevant international “good practices” for judges on these matters, including particularly the Global Counter-terrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Hague Memorandum Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, convened a group of 21 judges from the Western Balkans for a 3-day session form June 15-17. Judges from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as prosecutors from Macedonia, were present at the session which elaborated on key good practices and adjudication techniques that were deemed most important to the region during a planning meeting held in February of this year.

The project is implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, based in Malta, and is funded by the US Department of State.

Joining us for this the June session was a “deep bench” of experts including the Hon. John Tunheim, Chief Judge of the US District Court for Minnesota, and a counter-terrorism adjudication expert with years of experience working in the Balkans; Judge Rene Elkerbout, Presiding Judge, District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands (who handled one of the Netherlands groundbreaking foreign fighter cases); Rajko Kozmelj, Western Balkans Counter-Terrorism Initiative Chair at The Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the EU, and Mike Mullaney (remotely from Washington, DC), Counter-terrorism Section Chief, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

The interactive program benefited from the vast and differing experiences among faculty and participants alike. The international experts from Europe and the United States created a thorough depiction of counter-terrorism adjudication across different legal systems that helped participants gain a solid understanding of relevant best practices and how to incorporate them into their future work.

We look forward to further sessions of this project, both for Balkan judges, and for those from the Middle East and North Africa.