From March 27–28, leaders of bar chambers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia came together in Belgrade to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together in protecting the independence of the legal profession and in developing their institutions’ capacity to be justice-sector leaders. The MOU came from an initiative within the Balkans Regional Rule of Law Network (BRRLN), a regional initiative supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). The network brings advocates, bar chambers and civil society together to strengthen advocacy throughout the region. ABA ROLI launched BRRLN last May in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, with a convening conference that brought more than 40 leaders from the criminal-defense and civil-society communities together to discuss common problems throughout the region.
The MOU signing in Belgrade this weekend capped a two-day meeting devoted to bar chambers and leadership that brought together bar leaders from BRRLN member countries, Western Europe and the United States to discuss bar leadership and how this network can strengthen bar chambers and advocacy in the region. ABA ROLI Director Elizabeth Andersen and American Bar Association President William C. Hubbard presented at the conference, discussing the value of regional cooperation to advocate for rule of law reforms and how the ABA is tackling problems in the U.S. justice system.
The event was covered by several local news organizations. Links to some of the Serbian-language articles are available below.