Strengthening Judicial Capacity to Combat Terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa

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In October, the CEELI Institute continued its ongoing efforts to support judges in countries on the front lines in the fight against terrorism, with support from the US Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau. The most recent program was designed to support judges from the Middle East and North Africa, and brought together judges and prosecutors from Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. The intensive three-day exchange focused on best practices for judges adjudicating cases involving terrorism and other national security issues, with special reference to The Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, a Good Practice document based on relevant international guidance and developed under the auspices of the 30-nation Global Counter Terrorism Forum (www.thegctf.org).

The October program was held in Malta, as part of our ongoing partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org), itself a leader in counterterrorism programming efforts. Judges and prosecutors from the United States, France and the Netherlands with specialized experience in counterterrorism adjudication facilitated highly interactive exchanges, using firsthand experiences, case studies, and hypothetical problems to engage the assembled group and drive the conversation.

The CEELI Institute’s judicial counterterrorism efforts represent a unique opportunity to work directly with judges who are struggling to handle terrorism cases in a region plagued by new threats and challenges. These judges are often grappling with issues of first impression involving new laws, new kinds of cases and evidence, new factual scenarios and new sentencing challenges. This program provided them an important opportunity to share experiences and good practices in addressing these key issues.

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

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Over the past year, the CEELI Institute and the International Bar Association (IBA) partnered to organize a ground breaking program bringing together young lawyers from the Middle East to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the role international law can play in resolving this conflict. This diverse group of young lawyers has met quarterly at the Institute in Prague for a series of three-day meetings, during which participants came to know one another, and employed communication techniques that enabled them to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine.

On Friday, September 23, in the context of the IBA’s annual Rule of Law Forum, in Washington, the two organizations co-hosted a panel that examined, for an audience of over 300 people, this unusual process and the experiences of some of the young lawyers who participated in this dialogue. The Israeli, Arab, and American mentors who conceived, organized, and facilitated these discussions also shared insights about what they observed and learned from their engagement in the project. Together with a panel of experienced former diplomats and negotiators who have dealt with the complex issues that plague the region, the group addressed 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.