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April 17, 2024

Delegation from Albania, including the President of the Constitutional Court and Ambassador to the United States, visit the ABA

March 27, 2024 | Washington, DC

March 27, 2024 | Washington, DC

Scott Carlson (center), ABA Associate Executive Director of the Center for Global Programs, with the delegation of officials from the Republic of Albania

On March 27, 2024, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) welcomed a delegation of officials from the Republic of Albania. ABA ROLI was honored to host a meeting with Mrs. Holta Zacaj, President of the Constitutional Court of Albania, as well as the Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to the United States, Ervin Bushati. Additional distinguished guests included Sokol Sadushi, President of the Supreme Court, and Ilir Panda, Vice President of the Supreme Court; as well as several members of the Constitutional Court including Mrs. Elsa Toska, Sonila Bejtja, Sander Beci, Ilir Toska, Genti Ibrahimi, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Vilma Premti. ABA ROLI was represented by Scott Carlson, ABA Associate Executive Director of the Center for Global Programs; David Rubino, Regional Director for ABA ROLI’s Europe and Eurasia Division; Tom Susman, Advisor for Government Affairs and Global Programs; and Blerta Picari, Regional Director for ABA ROLI’s Africa Division and Middle East and North Africa Division. 

Bringing together both new and familiar faces, ABA ROLI and the Delegation discussed a variety of issues of interest including similarities and differences between the legal systems in Albania and the United States, the role of judges and attorneys, ethics systems and enforcement mechanisms, as well as opportunities for collaboration for ongoing and new programming in the country. 

March 27, 2024 | Washington, DC

March 27, 2024 | Washington, DC

Left to right: Sokol Sadushi, President of the Supreme Court; Scott Carlson, ABA Associate Executive Director of the Center for Global Programs; and Holta Zacaj, President of the Constitutional Court of Albania

The friendly visit concluded with President Zacaj sharing the Constitutional Court’s 2023 Annual Report with Carlson, as well as an emblem of the country to be displayed in ROLI’s offices to commemorate our ongoing partnership endeavoring to strengthen the rule of law. The remaining moments of the meeting were spent catching up among old friends and capturing a few photos to memorialize the meeting.

The Albanian Constitutional Court, established in 1992, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the principles of democracy, rule of law, and human rights within in that country. Rooted in the country's transition from communist rule to democracy, the court was formed as part of the constitutional framework aimed at ensuring checks and balances within the government. The court serves as the final arbiter in matters concerning the constitutionality of laws, acts, and governmental decisions. The court remains a crucial institution in upholding Albania's democratic principles and ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms for its citizens.

The ABA’s initiated its program in Albania in 1991 and placed its first rule of law liaison in Tirana in 1992. From 1998 until 2001, the ABA also conducted a criminal law reform program in Albania. The major projects on which the ABA worked include substantial assistance in support of the drafting of a new, democratic constitution, adopted through a popular referendum in 1998; promotion of judicial independence by supporting the creation of the Albanian Magistrates School, supporting the work of the Association of Albanian Judges, and facilitating the establishment of the National Judicial Conference; and substantial support of legal profession legal education and reform by providing expertise to the Chamber of Advocates, increasing public awareness through the annual National Day of Justice, and providing technical assistance to the Tirana Law Faculty. We also helped set up the first national ombudsman office in Albania.

In addition, the Balkans Regional Rule of Law Network (BRRLN) program was a three-year regional program implemented by ABA ROLI with the support from the United States Agency for International Development. From 2013-16, ABA ROLI built sustainable regional partnerships and networks of professional associations and civil society organizations through virtual and in-person meetings to promote rule of law reforms. The underlying goal of this program was to strengthen defense advocacy by bringing lawyers and civil society together across the region and across sectors to share best practices, tools and knowledge and to work on common issues that they identified as undermining the rule of law. 

Working together on common challenges served to empower individuals and mediated political and ethnic differences that have historically divided the region. From the start of the implementation, the BRRLN program complemented ABA ROLI’s bilateral programs in the region.

Through ABA ROLI’s current Financial Action Task Force (FATF) program, funded by the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, ABA ROLI works to provide anti-money laundering peer-to-peer workshops, trainings, and support in Albania and the region to financial intelligence units (FIUs) and other stakeholders.

Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Europe and Eurasia.