Justice Leadership Group meets to discuss challenges in the Arab World

In response to the major justice leadership challenges ahead in countries in the Arab world, such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, where rule of law needs to be rebuilt when a viable peace process gets underway, the Justice Leadership Group held a Justice Dialogue in Amman, Jordan. This forward-looking dialogue on what kind of leadership is needed to rebuild the justice system in the region, with special focus on Syria, took place in the framework of the Annual Meeting of the Justice Leadership Group in Jordan on 3 September and was chaired by Dr Salaheddin al-Bashir, founding member of the Justice Leadership Group and former Minister of Justice of Jordan. Bringing together distinguished justice leaders from the region, among others the Chief Justice of Iraq, H.E. Mr Medhat al-Mahmoud, as well as high-level representatives of UN Agencies and the EU and representatives of local NGOs, the Justice Dialogue provided the first opportunity to initiate the conversation on post conflict rule of law building in Syria and how to best promote justice leadership in the region.

Justice Dialogue on rebuilding the rule of law in Syria

There is an urgent need to find innovative solutions to address the tremendous justice challenges ahead in Syria. Therefore, it is crucial to think ahead about what will be required to rebuild rule of law when a peace settlement is achieved and what can be done now to prepare this, and to provide the necessary building blocks for post conflict rule of law building. The Justice Leadership Group initiated this agenda setting process by facilitating the first of a series of Justice Dialogues on Syria, which focused on identifying key challenges for justice change, what kind of leadership is required to build the rule of law, and what can be learned from justice leaders in the region and the challenges they face.

The dialogue started with the identification of key challenges for justice change in Syria and the region, such as safety and security. Based on earlier experiences, we know that in post conflict situations people are prone to suffer from land and family disputes, limited freedom of movement, and restitution and registration issues. It was highlighted that these and other urgent justice needs of citizens should serve as the starting point. As regards justice leadership, participants recognized that leadership could play a crucial role in organizing ownership for justice change processes in Syria and the region. There was a broad consensus that it is needed to stimulate transitional leadership that pulls together reconciliation, peace, and stability. For this, education is crucial. Participants also agreed that it is highly important to identify, empower, support and connect Syrian justice leaders, and to start this process well in advance.

Some other issues that were highlighted are: constitution-building does not necessarily come first; accountability for past atrocities is essential for development and stability; it is needed to create incentives that make a rule of law culture shift possible; development, human rights and justice communities must work hand in hand; and it is necessary to prioritize gender-based violence. Moreover, it was concluded that since previous international efforts to rebuild the rule of law in other countries, e.g. Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Somalia, and DRC, have been mostly unsuccessful, and since rule of law building is the most challenging element of state building, new approaches and innovative procedures are urgently needed.

The Justice Leadership Group was requested to facilitate this necessary agenda setting process, by holding a further dialogue on Syria with local representation and key stakeholders, in order to come up with concrete, homemade and innovative solutions for the urgent needs of citizens in a post conflict situation as well as a roadmap how to implement these. The Group is pleased to announce that it agrees to facilitate this Justice Dialogue series on rebuilding the rule of law in Syria, resulting in a roadmap for transitional justice in Syria.

Please keep track of our website, as we will provide more information on the next Justice Dialogue in this series in the near future. The Justice Dialogue was kindly sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the EU.

Justice Leader Meeting in Amman

Annual Meeting Justice Leadership Group in Amman

The Annual Meeting of the Justice Leadership Group took place in Amman, Jordan, on 1-3 September 2016. The meeting was hosted by Dr Salaheddin al-Bashir, founding member of the Group and former Minister of Justice of Jordan. The Group discussed pressing challenges that justice leaders in different regions of the world face today, such as the profound crisis in the Middle East and the lack of accountability procedures and application of constitutional provisions and laws in transition processes. Also, the Group reaffirmed that SDG 16 requires effective justice leadership and discussed how the Justice Leadership Group could further strengthen justice leadership worldwide and contribute to the realization of Goal 16, in partnership with governmental, multilateral and civil society organisations. Moreover, the Group had a meeting behind closed doors with the Minister of Justice of Jordan, H.E. Mr Bassam Sameer al Talhouni. During an open, inspiring conversation the Group learned from His Excellency al Tahouni about the justice challenges he is working on in Jordan.

During their annual meeting and the Justice Dialogue in Amman, the Justice Leadership Group was followed by a camera crew, as currently a documentary is being made about the Justice Leaders, their lives, work, experiences, and what they learned and know. This documentary is part of the Leadership Stories: a series of interviews, documentaries, articles etc. that are developed and shared in order to capture, collect and distribute the concrete and inspiring stories about the challenges and impact of justice leadership.

Dr. Salaheddin Al-Bashir on the biggest challenge for leadership in the justice sector:

Also, on 16 October 2016 another Leadership Stories’ documentary about one of the members of the Group, former Chief Justice of Kenya, Willy Mutunga, will air on Dutch national television (in Dutch, see VPRO Tegenlicht).

The next annual meeting of the Justice Leadership Group will take place in Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information, visit www.justiceleaders.org, follow us on Twitter: @justiceIeaders or contact our Director, Tobijn de Graauw, at tobijn.degraauw@justiceleaders.org.

The members of the Justice Leadership Group are:

Mr Ernst Hirsch Ballin – Former Minister of Justice of the Netherlands
Mr Salaheddin Al-Bashir – Former Minister of Justice of Jordan
Ms Siri Frigaard – Former Chief Prosecutor of Norway
Ms Kalthoum Kannou – Judge of the Court of Cassation of Tunisia
Mr Tharcisse Karugarama – Former Minister of Justice and former Attorney General of Rwanda
Ms Athaliah Molokomme – Former Attorney General of Botswana
Mr Willy Mutunga – Former Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya
Ms Claudia Paz y Paz – Former Attorney General of Guatemala
Mr Diego García Sayán – Former Minister of Justice of Peru, former President and Judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Mr Sang-Hyun Song – Former President of the International Criminal Court


New member of the Group: Ms Siri Frigaard

The Justice Leadership Group was excited and honoured to welcome Ms Siri S. Frigaard (Norway), as a new member of the Group during their annual meeting in Amman. Siri Frigaard is a global expert in the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. She is former Chief Prosecutor of Norway and the former Director of the Norwegian National Authority for Prosecution of Organized and Other Serious Crime. Ms Frigaard also served as the Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes in East Timor with UNTAET and UNMISET, and as a prosecutor and legal adviser to the General Prosecutor of Albania.

Ms Frigaard’s experience and expertise as a justice leader, her achievements in investigating and prosecuting special international crimes, and her dedication to strengthening justice and the rule of law, make a valuable addition to the Group and its work. As the tenth member of the Justice Leadership Group, she makes herself available to support other justice leaders who need to lead justice change. For more information, see Ms Frigaard’s profile.

The Justice Leadership Group feels privileged and looks forward to working with its distinguished new member to promote and support justice leadership worldwide!