Happy 2015!

Dear ILAC friends,

2014 was a busy and exciting year for ILAC. The launching of the 3-year MENA Programme in January, funded by Swedish Sida and implemented by five of our member organisations, is a milestone in ILAC´s work and strengthens the role of ILAC as a coordinating and monitoring consortium.

By coordinating the Raoul Wallenberg Institute´s application of human rights principles in Arab court rulings, the International Association of Women Judges regional aim in strengthening women judges, the CEELI Institute s training on anti-corruption, and judicial independence and the International Bar Association´s training on international human rights law and international criminal law and the American Bar Associations’ Capacity building and support of the Human Rights Council in Libya, we are together creating an added value, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The MENA Programme is also a continuation of previous work. ILAC was invited to Tunisia only weeks after president Ben Ali was forced into exile in January 2011, and the training of Tunisian judges started in early 2012. Now, after a three year period of intense work and the development of close relations with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, Tunisia is the center of this regional programme, which was manifested at our first MENA Stakeholder seminar during the ILAC Annual General Meeting in Tunis in April.

The joint work within this multi-dimensional programme is also creating synergies and ideas. There are several examples where our different programme components have developed into new projects. As a spin-off from the judicial training of judges and prosecutors we now keep getting requests for projects to improve the court administration.

So in January 2015, together with our member International Association for Court Administration, ILAC will conduct an assessment trip to Tunisia, with funding from the US-based ILAC-member National Center for State Courts. Based on the findings from that assessment, we will then design a program to improve the administration of Tunisian courts.

Another important step for ILAC this year was the July opening of our office in Washington D.C. Although we have several American member organisations, ILAC needs to become better known among US-based decision makers and donors, including the UN and other international organisations.

We are happy to have been able to recruit Quinn O’Keefe to lead our efforts in Washington. Through her work at the CEELI Institute, at Human Rights First and the American Bar Association, Quinn has a successful track record and an extensive network with the US administration and other governments and foundations.

In 2014 we were also able to launch our new two-year programme on Strengthening the rule of law in Syria, with funding from Swedish Sida. At this point a life line project, but with the aims of being the first step in building a better justice system. We are pleased to note that this project seems to have lifted the spirits of our partners in the Free Independent Judicial Council, as expressed by our project manager Mazin in this December interview.

This year the Stockholm Human Rights Award was presented to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem for its brave and tireless work on documenting and disclosing human rights violations against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The current and the former director accepted the award in front of some 600 people at at a highly memorable award ceremony in Berwaldhallen, Stockholm.

Looking ahead, 2015 also promises to include many inspiring events and activities. The MENA programme calendar is of course already fully booked and the ILAC Annual General Meeting in Helsinki 23-25 April will be a highlight, with a seminar organised jointly together with the Martti Ahtisaari initiative Crisis Management Institute.

We at the ILAC Secretariat are very much looking forward to working with you in the year to come and wish you all a restful holiday season!

Christian Åhlund
Executive Director ILAC