CEELI's Past Work

In recent years, the CEELI Institute has worked with lawyers, judges, and civil society to help advance the rule of law even in the most challenging circumstances, drawing upon our experience from Central and Eastern Europe.   

In Tunisia following the Jasmine Revolution, the Institute partnered with the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) and the International Bar Association to train half of Tunisia’s 2,000 judges across ranks and regions on “Judging in a Democracy,” which was CEELI’s founding course nearly twenty years ago. In doing so, we built bridges between Tunisian judges and their counterparts from a range of countries in Central and Eastern Europe who could speak first-hand about building the independence and integrity of the judiciary in an emerging democracy. 

Also with ILAC, the Institute provided a professional lifeline to Syrian judges who have been forced into exile because of the civil war and pressure of the Syrian regime against them. Many of these exiled judges were actively supporting fellow refugees to maintain basic records of births, deaths, and marriages, in the absence of any formal mechanism for recording crucial life events. We provided opportunities to engage and learn from networks of judges from other countries that have emerged from conflict and focused on housing, land, and property issues as a preparation for the scenario where these Syrian judges might be able to return home and help build a new justice system. 

In Myanmar, in partnership with the Prague-based organization Burma Center Prague, the Institute supported networks of independent human rights lawyers engaged in pro bono defense. Over the course of six years, we reached over 400 lawyers in 13 cities mentoring them on practical trial skills, as well as encouraging discourse of how the changing political and legislative landscape affects access to justice and creates challenges and opportunities for the legal profession.

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