Dear Friend of the CEELI Institute,
In 2016, the work of the CEELI Institute in advancing the rule of law continued to change individual lives, and through them, the world. Over the past year, for example, CEELI brought young Israeli and Palestinian lawyers together to sit side by side to discuss their challenges and hopes for the future; for most, such an opportunity was unprecedented. As one young Israeli lawyer said at the outset, “before this I had never met a Palestinian.”
When defense lawyers in Eurasia received death threats for their work, CEELI was there to offer them shelter and respite.
A young prosecutor from the Balkans who participated in our intensive anti-corruption training reported that “my skills for investigating frequent acts of corruption have been greatly enhanced; this is the real armor I needed to move the world in a new direction.” And in Bosnia, a young judge being punished for her independence pushed back against an arbitrary reassignment by using CEELI tools that gave her fast access to the relevant international standards.
The CEELI Institute’s work is now reaching more people, in more countries, than ever before. At a time when democratic principles and human rights are under increasing attack, Institute programs advance the rule of law, protect fundamental rights and individual liberties, promote judicial independence, set the standard of excellence in anti-corruption training, and provide world-class, interactive training and skills development to legal professionals
The future of the Institute is exciting, and we are poised to build on our achievements. To continue these efforts, we need your support. The annual contributions of our supporters are critical to our efforts to advance the rule of law in the world. Tax deductible contributions should be made to: The Friends of the CEELI Institute, c/o Homer Moyer, 900 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006.
My sincere thanks for your continuing support for this important work.
With warmest regards,
2016 HIGHLIGHTS: THE CEELI INSTITUTE
- Voices of the Next Generation – Bringing Change to the Middle East: CEELI and the International Bar Association partnered to organize a ground breaking program bringing young Israeli and Palestinian lawyers together for successive visits over the course of the year to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine. The depth of the participant exchange and engagement exceeded all expectations, and we hope to continue this endeavor in the year ahead.
- Continued Leadership in Providing Innovative Anti-Corruption Training: CEELI’s intensive, interactive training sessions on investigation and prosecution of public corruption continued to draw wide participation from across the region and beyond.
- Providing a Lifeline for Lawyers in Distress: The legal profession itself remains under distress in many countries of the region. Our programs continued to bring lawyers together to discuss current challenges to the independence of their profession, mechanisms for maintaining the rule of law, strategies for providing access to counsel and for questioning repressive laws, and tools for using international law as a check on repressive domestic actions. We also provide respite stays to those under the most severe pressures.
- Sustaining the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe: CEELI founded and continues to nurture this annual meeting of the region’s top judges, now in its sixth year. Their 2015 Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary continues to be a groundbreaking document on behalf of judicial independence across the region. The Supreme Courts of Hungary and Lithuania are already in line to host the 2017 and 2018 sessions.
- A New Core Competency for CEELI – Support for Judges Adjudicating Complex, High-Profile Cases, Including Terrorism Trials: CEELI launched several new efforts this year to provide judges in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East with guidance on how to handle these difficult and challenging cases. CEELI is one of a handful of NGOs leading the way in this emerging field.
- CEELI Judicial Tools and Standards Garner Wide Attention: CEELI’s practical tools for judges, including its Manual on Judicial Independence, continue in wide use across the continent, helping judges deal with their day-to-day challenges, especially in countries where the judicial profession is under renewed assault.
- New Curricula for Young Lawyers: CEELI continued to provide tailored training for young lawyers from countries as diverse as Iran and Burma on issues ranging from advocacy skills to international law and transitional justice.
- New Partners, New Regions – Expanding our Base of Grantors: Looking forward to 2017, the Institute will begin working with USAID funded efforts to support lawyers in Azerbaijan, and to promote judicial engagements in India and in Pakistan.
- A Record Year by the Numbers: In 2016 CEELI reached its widest audience ever, engaging over 1200 participants from more than 40 countries in over 60 individual programs.
In late September, the CEELI Institute was again be able to support the efforts of the Croatian Judiciary as it grapples with challenges related to the independence and impartiality of justice—both of which continue to be under challenge in the region. Content of the program was particularly framed around Opinion No. 18 of Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) addressing “the position of the judiciary and its relation with other powers of state in a modern democracy.” Discussions were further augmented by reference to relevant case decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the concepts of impartiality and independence articulated and defined therein. Such discussions are particularly relevant in the region, as working level judges are not, contrary to common assumption, well versed in the broader jurisprudence of the EU or the COE, or its application and relevance to their daily work.
The program, organized in cooperation with the Croatian Association of Judges, the University of Zadar, and the US Embassy in Zagreb, was attended by over 70 judges from Croatia and from other countries across the region.
The CEELI Institute is continuing its long work with the Tunisian judiciary, now focusing on a selected group of the most proactive judges from the sessions conducted over the past three years (2013-2015). This new phase of our engagement addresses public trust in the judiciary – a topic selected by the judges themselves. The participating judges have prioritized several aspects crucial for public trust in the judiciary, including relationship with the media, and greater outreach and educational programs for university and high school students. The judges are also committed to work on a judicial code of conduct, which they recognize will be helpful tool in garnering public trust. CEELI has worked with the judges to create relevant working groups, and to develop their plans for action outlining steps they can realistically take at the level of individual courthouses. This current effort is complementary to some of the ongoing efforts of the Tunisian judicial associations and institutes. CEELI hopes to encourage examples of individual initiative on the part of judges, with the aims of achieving concrete results and setting good practice examples in a format accessible to other Tunisian judges who are willing to work proactively and positively influence their professional environment.
The current efforts build on the CEELI Institute’s work with Tunisian judges since 2013, in cooperation with the Swedish based International Legal Assistance Consortium. In coordination with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, CEELI has engaged over 800 Tunisian judges through our workshop, “Judging in a Democratic Society”. That program focused on the role of a judge and the legal and social changes brought by democratic transformation, and also employed the expertise of judges from Central and Eastern European countries that have themselves negotiated the difficult transition from a totalitarian state to democracy.