Judicial Accountability: Making the Standards Count in the Middle East

The regional conference on judicial accountability brought together judges and government officials from 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The regional conference on judicial accountability brought together judges and government officials from 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

April 2010

 On March 28–29, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) co-hosted a regional workshop with the Ministry of Justice of Bahrain. The program brought together judges and government officials from 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, which fell into two categories—those nations that have recently adopted principles of judicial conduct and those nations that may develop such standards in the coming years. By bringing the two groups together, the workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to learn from each other’s experiences and fostered dialogue among groups at different implementation stages.

The workshop was hosted under the patronage of H.E. Khalifa Bin Rashed Al Khalifa, president of the Court of Cassation in Bahrain and vice president of the Supreme Judicial Counsel. He and Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa delivered opening remarks that highlighted Bahrain’s efforts to promote judicial accountability.

The participants were joined by international experts, including Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Justice Adele Kent of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Canada; and Dr. Pim Albers, senior advisor to the Dutch Ministry of Justice. Regional presenters included Judge Mohammad Al Ghazo, the executive director of the Arab Council of Judicial and Legal Studies, and Dr. Ahmad Saeed Bin Hezeem, the director general of Dubai courts. Their presentations, which were received enthusiastically and prompted energetic discussion, focused on a variety of themes related to judicial integrity.

To further facilitate discussion and idea-sharing, breakout sessions covered issues related to the development of judicial conduct principles and best practices in implementation. Conversations addressed the merits of binding versus voluntary codes of conduct for judges, with participants sharing their experiences and arguing both sides of the issue. Paul Simonett, ABA ROLI program director in Bahrain, led a closing discussion that focused on how best to move forward on judicial accountability issues.

The workshop was part of ABA ROLI’s regional work, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, to strengthen the legal systems throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Previous regional workshops have focused on legal writing and research, continuing legal education and professional development for young lawyers.

To learn more about our work in the Middle East and North Africa, contact rol@staff.abanet.org.

Advertisement