Empowering the Judicial Exchange Network – Measuring 10 Years of Impact and Effectiveness
In October 2012, the CEELI Institute launched the Central and Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network—an initiative meant to bring together judges from the region to work on issues and challenges commonly experienced in their judiciaries. As it has grown through the years, the Network has become a trusted platform not only for sharing expertise and best practices, but also for producing concrete tools to assist the judges in performing their duties while adapting to changing demands, such as the need for remote judging. In response to requests from Network members, the themes regularly discussed include judicial independence, transparency, accountability, efficiency, and ethics. Ten years after its launch, the Network has grown into a dynamic platform that regularly gathers members from among 290 judges and 75 judicial experts from 21 countries.
To better gauge and evaluate the impact of this extensive work over the past decade, we recently conducted a research study involving both in-depth interviews and an online questionnaire sent to members of the Network. We were very pleased to read the conclusions from this study, highlighting the importance of our ongoing work and the positive difference the Network has made to our members both professionally and personally.
Among the key findings was the importance of the CEELI Institute’s role in supporting Network members in their fight against corruption and attacks on judicial independence, or in their defence of the rule of law. This support was perceived as both validating and legitimising the efforts conducted by Network members in their own countries, helping profile their struggle regionally and ensuring that their efforts were recognized as part of a broader fight to protect independent judiciaries and the rule of law. A majority of our members also shared that the Network had a “positive” or “very positive” impact upon their understanding of a range of democratic values that are core to the mission of the CEELI Institute.
The Network’s ability to act as a platform for exchanging, sharing, and disseminating best practices was another important highlight of the report. In addition to having access to academic and expert views, our members particularly appreciated the opportunity to share practitioner experiences and perspectives amongst colleagues. Furthermore, they were able to develop useful models and tools through Network’s events, trainings, and outreach activities in the region and beyond. Among these tools, the production of manuals and guidelines has facilitated the sharing of judicial best practices across the region.
We look forward to continuing our collaboration with judges, national judicial studies institutes, judicial associations, and regional and international judicial experts to advance our mission to strengthen judicial independence and uphold the rule of law. And we will be pleased to meet with the Network in January for a workshop on adjudicating corruption cases.