In 2017, we celebrated our fifteenth year as a Consortium, reconfirming our vision and mission as well as setting our strategic priorities for the next five years.
Since we were founded, our Consortium has gathered over 50 professional legal organisations and experts from all over the world that reflect a wide-range of legal expertise and competencies which can be drawn upon to help rebuild justice systems in countries that are fragile or conflict-affected.
Our strategic review processes this year and views received directly from our members have confirmed that our Consortium operates in the most challenging environments. We have the expertise and capacity to engage when countries are at their most vulnerable and when resilient justice institutions are essential in order to prevent further conflict. We are responsive to perceived needs and work in close partnership with local ministries, judges, prosecutors, court administrators, lawyers and lawyers’ associations as well as civil society so that we can identify opportunities where our input and guidance can make a difference.
Our vision is ‘equal access to justice for all’.
Our mission is’ to rapidly respond and assess the needs of the justice sector in conflict-affected and fragile countries, and help strengthen the independence and resilience of justice sector institutions and the legal profession’.
Also at our Annual General Meeting, we welcomed two new organisational members to ILAC: the French National Bar Council, and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights. Included in this Annual Report is a tribute to the well-known jurist Cherif Bassiouni, the founding father of the Siracusa Institute who sadly died this year.
During the Annual General Meeting, we were also pleased to award Juan Bennazar Zequeira, an ILAC Board member and Past President of the Inter-American Bar Association, with honorary lifetime membership in recognition of his significant and valuable contributions to ILAC.
Despite the extensive internal review and process planning that has taken place throughout the year, 2017 has been one of ILAC’s busiest years for programmatic and justice sector assessment work. As you will read in this report, we have continued to develop our programmes in the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America. In 2017, we carried out an assessment of the Guatemalan justice sector drawing upon the expertise of seven ILAC members.
Also, this year, we rolled-out two ILAC justice sector assessments reports from Syria and the Central African Republic. ILAC’s “Rule of Law Assessment Report: Syria 2017” has been widely received to inform international discussions on what can be salvaged from the Syrian justice system post conflict. We launched the report in April at an event at the United Nations, hosted by Sweden’s Permanent Mission. The audience included representatives from several permanent missions, including Syria, as well as the Department for Peace Keeping Operations, and the United Nations Development Programme. In addition to the United Nations, ILAC has presented its assessment findings to Syrian legal professional diaspora, the Swedish government, U.S. government, and the European Union.
The idea of ILAC as a resource beyond our assessments is something that we have been elaborating this year and will continue to do so next year. ILAC is sitting on a wealth of lessons learned from our assessments and work in post-conflict countries as well as our members’ knowledge and experience. We have continued to work with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrenceto organise our findings, particularly from ILAC’s three-year Middle East & North Africa programme on how an independent and accountable judiciary is often a precursor to peace, stability and growth. Another strategic relationship that we are presently developing is with the g7+, a group of conflict-affected and fragile states. Our partnership with the g7+ will explore how “principles and methods that should drive international assistance to address challenges facing conflict affected countries in achieving access to quality justice for all”.
While we were very sorry that our esteemed colleague and Director of Programmes, Hanna Johnsson, returned to our member the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law to head their efforts in Cambodia, we are grateful for her leadership during her tenure with us. Happily, we remain in safe hands with our new Director of Programmes, Shane Quinn. Shane brings to ILAC over 14 years’ experience in rule of law development, public sector governance reform and peacebuilding. He has worked in several international civil society organisations in Sweden and as a consultant in Eastern Europe and Africa. Most recently, he co-developed a toolkit on Rule of Law in Public Administration for the United Nations and Folke Bernadotte Academy, where he was acting head of their rule of law programmes.
We are also delighted to report that at the end of 2017, we received the excellent news from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Swedish Sida) that they will fund ILAC’s core activities for another four years. Whilst we shall continue to try to diversify our funding, the Swedish government is an integral ILAC partner and its continued political and financial support has been a key to our success as a Consortium.
After fifteen years, we know very well that “working in a global context means constantly responding and adapting to changing environments and highly unpredictable contexts.” This year our focus was upon strategic planning in order to provide a solid foundation and premise for next year which will be one of continued action with clear benefits.
ILAC needs to act rapidly, and it is the role of the Secretariat to make sure we have the expertise and staff capacity to respond accordingly.
Elizabeth Howe Agneta Johansson
ILAC President ILAC Executive Director