2017 Conference of Chief Justices of Central & Eastern Europe –Budapest, Hungary, June 4-7, 2017

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The CEELI Institute was delighted to again join in supporting the Seventh Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, hosted in Budapest by the Supreme Court of Hungary from June 4-7, 2017.  The Conference itself was launched in Prague, at the Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the 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 in one of the countries represented, 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 flourish and since its inception has rotated between member states, each year hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Chief Justices from Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), Croatia (2015), and Serbia (2016). The 2018 Conference will be hosted in Vilnius by the Supreme Court of Lithuania.  The CEELI Institute is delighted to continue to play an active and important role in the 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.

Belgrade: The 2016 Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe

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chief-justices-smaller-gox_6519_resizeThe CEELI Institute was delighted to again support the work of the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, which was hosted in June of this year, in Belgrade, by the Supreme Cassational Court of Serbia.  The Conference is now a self-sustaining body that has met annually since its inception in 2011, allowing the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas and work towards solutions. This year saw two additional signatories—Serbia and Georgia– to the Conference’s Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, known now as the Brijuni Statement (due to its original drafting and signing in 2015 at the Croatian seaside town of Brijuni).  That statement reaffirms regional commitments to judicial independence and the rule of law—and is more important than ever in a time of increasing threats to the independence of the judiciary across the region. 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, which is available on the CEELI Institute website. We very much look forward to next year’s Conference, to be hosted by the Supreme Court of Hungary.

Belgrade: CEELI supports this year’s Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe

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Chief Justices Smaller GOX_6519_resizeThe CEELI Institute we delighted to support this year’s Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, held in Belgrade on June 20-22, and hosted by the Supreme Cassational Court of Serbia.

The Conference of Chief Justices is a self-sustaining organization whose members lead the judiciaries of twenty-three nations from the Baltic Sea to the Caucasus. The Conference meets annually in one of the member countries to address the many common challenges faced by the Chief Justices in improving their countries’ judiciaries, promoting judicial independence, strengthening integrity and accountability, improving court management, fighting corruption, and building public support for the courts. The CEELI Institute has been honored to support the work and mission of the Conference since its inception in 2011.

Among the achievements of the Conference is the drafting and signing, in 2015, of a landmark Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary–known now as the Brijuni Statement, after the site of the 2015 conference hosted in Brijuni, Croatia by the Supreme Court of Croatia. The Brijuni Statement reaffirms the fundamental principles of judicial independence and integrity, and adds to the body of international instruments that recognize that true judicial independence, both institutional and individual, is indispensable to the successful functioning of the judiciary under the rule of law.

This year was notable in that the President of the Supreme Cassational Court of Serbia, Dragomir Milojević, joined as the 16th signatory to the document.

The Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe was initially launched in Prague, at the CEELI Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the commitment of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who attended the first Conference. The Conference now continues as a self-sustaining body that meets annually in one of the countries represented, and provides the opportunity for the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas and work towards solutions. The Conference continues to flourish and since its inception has rotated between member states, each year hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Chief Justices from Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), Croatia (2015), and most recently, Serbia.

The CEELI Institute continues to provide guidance and expertise to the Conference through CEELI Institute Board member, Judge John M. Walker, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Walker has also enlisted the support of Judge Clifford J. Wallace, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, whose extensive experience includes establishing a similar conference for the countries of Asia and the Pacific. Both judges, who are active in rule-of-law development, have an on-going role in supporting and advising the Conference on behalf of the Institute.

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. The Brijuni Statement will be published and hosted 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.

A Landmark Statement of Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: Completed with CEELI Institute Assistance

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BrijuniWith CEELI Insitute support and encouragement, the Supreme Courts of Central and Eastern Europe have joined together to sign a landmark Statement of Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. The Principles were approved at the Annual Conference of the Chief Justices, hosted by the Supreme Court of Croatia, in Brijuni, Croatia, in October 2015. Justices from the Supreme Courts of 16 participating countries from the region signed the Statement. It represents the culmination of three years of work by the Justices.

The Statement is to some extent modeled on the 1997 Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, drafted and signed by the Conference of Chief Justices of the Asia Pacific Region. The “Brijuni Statement of Principles“ will now stand alongside the Bangalore Principles and other key international instruments which provide a foundation in international law for the concept of an independent judiciary as fundamental to the Rule of Law. As the Brijuni Principles themselves state: “[T]he implementation and protection of all rights depends on the existence of a competent, independent, and impartial judiciary.“ As was stated by the Hon. Branko Hrvatin, President of the Supreme Court of Croatia, “The Brijuni Statement represents the unwavering commitment by the Judiciaries of Central and Eastern Europe to the rule of law, and to a shared belief in judicial independence.“

Significantly, the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe was originally launched with INL support, at the CEELI Insitute in Prague, back in 2011, with participation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Since then, it has become a self-sustaining annual effort, largely organized and financed by the participating Courts themselves. The CEELI Insitute, along with our board member, Judge John M. Walker, Jr., of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, continue to be actively involved in supporting the efforts and organization of the Conference. Judge Walker was instrumental in bringing the Brijuni Statement to completion.

A copy of the Brijuni Statement is available on the CEELI Institute website at www.ceeliinstitute.org, and we will be printing hard copy versions for distribution to the participating courts. The original, signed copies of the Brijuni Statement will continue to be preserved and maintained by the Supreme Court of Croatia.