The ABA Rule of Law Initiative held its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division Council meeting in Amman, Jordan on May 18-19, 2009. Rob Boone, Director of the Rule of Law Initiative, also participated in the meeting. Subsequent to the meeting in Amman, Council members traveled to Morocco and Egypt to meet with donors, partners and stakeholders. The role of the Council is to provide strategic advice for the ABA ROLI in the MENA region. ABA ROLI administers regional and bilateral programs focusing on judicial development, women and the law, legal education, and the legal profession in over eleven countries in the region. It maintains offices in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar.
Members of the council include the Chair of the Committee, Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Member of the European Parliament (MEP); Ambassador (ret.) Daniel Kurtzer, Chair in Middle East Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University; Richard Bartlett, Managing Director of Resource Holdings, Ltd.; and William Meyer, a private lawyer active in ABA ROLI leadership for nearly 20 years.
In Jordan, Council members discussed ABA’s programs in the region and met with Jordanian counterparts to discuss ABA’s current initiatives. Meetings were held with the present and former Ministers of Justice, the Minister of Higher Education, Jordan’s Chief Justice, university officials and U.S. officials. Jordanian law students and faculty discussed with the council the impact of ABA activities, such as externships, summer practicums, and moot court competitions on their educational experience and the culture of the law school. The students described the importance of ABA’s work in building practical legal skills, building self confidence, and exposing the students to new areas of the practice of law.
After traveling to Jordan, a delegation from the Council traveled to Morocco for meetings with a range of local partners. Accompanied by ROLI staff, the Council members held productive meetings with the Minister of Justice, the national judicial training institute (Institut Supérieure de la Magistrature or ISM), members of regional bar associations and civil society organizations, the delegation of the European Union, and the embassies of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
Topics of discussion included legal and judicial education, legal profession development, judicial reform, and legal aid. Finally, the Council members took the opportunity, in a ceremony held at the Embassy of the Netherlands to initiate a new project, which will support the Moroccan Federation of Young Lawyers in undertaking advocacy work to support the passage of a draft law on legal aid.
MENA Council Chair, Judge Henry traveled to Egypt meet with ABA ROLI partners. Initiated in January 2009, the Egypt program offers skills-based training programs for young Egyptian law graduates. Judge Henry met informally with many of the 50 trainees currently enrolled in the programs.
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