IDLO has redoubled its efforts in creating a conducive legal and policy environment to promote sustainable development and economic opportunities. We aim to reduce the inequalities and injustices arising from extreme poverty, inadequate institutions and environmental degradation.
The lack of specialized courts to adjudicate commercial disputes, the limited use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation or arbitration, poor enforcement of court decisions and lack of judicial independence are some of the key factors we are addressing so that they do not undermine the effectiveness of legal systems, destabilize the business environment and discourage foreign investments.
In 2015, we have promoted sustainable development and economic opportunities through our programs in Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mongolia, Montenegro, Somalia, Tajikistan and Tunisia.
IDLO has also continued with its policy and research work on legal preparedness to implement the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity, re-envisioning and scaling up its work on biodiversity. A strong, independent and effective justice sector is essential to build citizens’ confidence in the rule of law. This principle, that we have helped codify in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, explicitly calls for building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Although Jordan has achieved good standards of human development, there is still a need to strengthen and enforce the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in the country. A recent assessment showed a need to provide tailor-made training modules on intellectual property, competition law and enforcement of arbitration awards. These are specialized areas of law in which judges have received little training, and the number of cases is growing.
Between July and September 2015, IDLO developed training materials on intellectual property and competition law, which were translated into Arabic for use during four training sessions. A total of 100 justice sector operators received training in Amman and other locations throughout the country between October and December 2015.
Although the Government of Kuwait established a welcoming climate for foreign investment, according to the World Investment Report 2012, the current level of Foreign Direct Investment is below the country’s potential. Easier access to regulatory information is associated with greater regulatory efficiency, lower compliance costs, and better regulatory quality for businesses. Currently, English translations of Kuwaiti commercial lawsare only available through paid services
In 2015, IDLO continued to assist the governmentof Kuwait in translating, interpreting and enhancing accessibility – in English – of all Kuwaiti laws related to economic, commercial and investment activities, with a view to attracting more investment from Western countries.
Fifty pieces of economic legislation have been translated into English, and IDLO is working on the indexing and cross-referencing of commercial laws. In the month of October, IDLO and the Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS) delivered training to six staff from the Kuwaiti Department of Legal Advice and Legislation on the database developed by HURIDOCS. Participants are now able to use the database and prepare summaries of the laws.
After rapidly growing to become an upper middle-income country in 2015, Mongolia is facing a dramatic economic slowdown dueto falling investments and commodity prices.To ensure sustainable and inclusive growth, the country needs to strengthen its institutions and improve its business environment for investors. Effective settlement of commercial disputes and greater use of mediation can contribute to the efficient administration of justice by enhancing predictability in commercial relationships and reducing the courts’ workload.
In an effort to improve the effective settlement of commercial disputes, IDLO, in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has been helping strengthen the Mongolian General Executive Agency of Court Decisions and developing the capacities of its employees. In 2015, 204 bailiffs (127 of them women) were trained in areas including seizure and sale of property, enforcement of mediation agreements and international arbitration, and conflict management and negotiation skills.
The training was the first of its kind in Mongolia and a unique contribution to the professional development of Mongolian bailiffs, who enhanced their skills in effective execution of court decisions, learning about best practices from international and national experts, as well as from their peers previously trained by the EBRD/IDLO team.
To supplement the capacity-building for Mongolian bailiffs, the EBRD/IDLO team and the Agency have developed a dedicated web section, where all training materials and lectures can be easily accessed by current and future bailiffs.
IDLO has continued to support efforts to strengthen mediation as a tool to resolve commercial disputes through the Mediation Center, set up in 2014 by the EBRD with IDLO’s support at the Mongolia Chamber of Commerce and Industry – the first private center that mediates commercial disputes in the country.
In 2015, IDLO and the EBRD engaged with the Mongolian Judicial General Council (JGC) to prepare a plan to integrate court-annexed mediation cases into the JGC’s case management system. As a result, 4,508 court- annexed mediation cases heard between March 2014 and October 2015 were entered into the JGC’s internal database. These cases are now available for further analysis and assessment of mediation services in Mongolia, which can contribute to more effective implementation of the 2012 Mediation Law and promotion of mediation in general.
In light of its upcoming accession to the European Union, Montenegro needs to address key areas including improving the quality and predictability of judicial decisions in commercial law – which has been rated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as below the regional median average for South East Europe – and strengthening the enforcement of competition policies.
Created in 2012, the Agency for the Protection of Competition (APC) continues to encounter difficulties in the area of enforcement of competition law, due to lack of resources and technical capacity, as well as efficient tools for handling complex cases.
In the first half of 2015, IDLO held two interactive workshops for APC case handlers and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro. The workshops aimed to increase participants’ skills and knowledge in dealing with competition cases, and to strengthen the APC’s ability to implement competition policies, in particular in view of the ongoing EU accession negotiations.
The first training session focused on procedures and remedies for merger control, including the EU framework on structural and behavioral remedies, and their implementation and compliance monitoring. The second one focused on the notion of costs in antitrust enforcement, illustrated by examples from EU practice. Participants expressed high appreciation of the training and its focus on the economic underpinnings of competition policies and their enforcement.
To strengthen judicial capacity with regard to commercial law, IDLO continued to provide Montenegrin judges with highly specialized training on commercial law topics such as company law, maritime law, insolvency, and consumer protection. In February, 13 Montenegrin judges and court advisors (10 women and three men) benefited from interactive and skills-based training sessions, delivered by national and international experts.
In September, a new Law on Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution Service was adopted, making the Judicial Training Center (JTC) an independent institution. To assist the JTC in this transition, IDLO supported it in assessing its training needs in commercial law, which resulted in the signing of a new consultancy contract between IDLO and the EBRD for further institutional and capacity building activities on commercial law topics.
Widespread corruption – fostered by over two decades of civil war, lack of resources and administrative capacity, weak leadership structures, as well as a limited ability to pay public officials – poses significant risks to political legitimacy and stability in Somalia. In recognition of this challenge, the Federal Government of Somalia has committed to address the debilitating phenomenon of corruption, particularly in public financing and procurement, in order to build citizens’ confidence, advance relationships with development partners, and to ensure transparent, equitable and accountable management of public funds.
After carrying out training for procurement staff from a cross-section of ministries at the end of 2014, in October 2015 IDLO undertook a procurement capacity assessment of the five Somali ministries with the highest public procurement expenditure (Finance, Planning and International Cooperation, Justice, Public Works and Reconstruction, Transport and Civil Aviation), with the aim to improve transparency and accountability in public procurement within the Federal Government of Somalia. The assessment aimed to analyze the ministries’ existing procurement capacity gaps and needs and develop the curriculum for training to be delivered to 20 representatives of the government, governmental oversight and integrity bodies, as well as selected civil society organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the South Central Non-State Actors (SOCENSA), which lobby for greater transparency in public procurement. The training took place in January 2016.
Tajikistan remains the poorest of the Central Asian republics, with high migration rates and a number of endemic problems – including government interference in the economy and corruption stifling economic growth and private investment. After joining the WTO in 2013, the government committed to more transparent and efficient governance, including judicial reform, to enhance Tajikistan’s attractiveness to foreign investors. However, insufficient financing of the judiciary resulting in poor infrastructure, limited use of technology and heavy dependence on the executive power have slowed down such reforms and undermined the efficiency and transparency of the courts.
Access to judicial decisions, including commercial law decisions, whether for Tajik judges, lawyers, or representatives of international investors, is currently limited due to the absence of a publicly accessible database. This impacts the ability of all parties to refer to past case law in making decisions — whether by general or commercial courts.
In 2015, IDLO assisted law-making bodies in removing legislative limitations on public access to judicial decisions in line with international standards.
Activities under this project include drafting relevant legislative acts to introduce mandatory publication of judicial decisions by commercial courts, as well as designing and piloting a public portal and database of judicial decisions in the five Economic Courts of the country, including the Supreme Economic Court. The pilot database — a first of its kind for Tajikistan — will mark an initial step towards making access to judicial decisions in the country more efficient and transparent.
At the time of the Tunisian uprising in 2010-2011, the fight against corruption and fraud, as well as the consequential demand for management of legal situations, emerged as priorities to be addressed. One of the first actions of the new Tunisian Government was to establish the National Authority for the Fight against Corruption, tasked to conduct investigations into corruption and fraud. In September 2012, in order to face the challenges arising from economic and financial crimes, the Tunisian Government also created the Pôle Judiciaire Financier, a first instance court dedicated to investigating economic and financial fraudulent allegations.
Since 2013, IDLO has been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen the capacity of the members of the Pôle Judiciaire Financier in investigation techniques and mechanisms to deal with cases related with financial and economic crime.
In March 2015, IDLO delivered the first training on Banking Organization and Practice for 15 selected judges. The training focused on risk areas in banking practice and procurement, with a view to enabling participants todeal with financial and economic crime cases. A second training on procurement was organized in April 2015 for 18 selected judges from the Courts of First Instance from the governorates of Tunis, Ben Arous and Manouba, as well as judges from the Appeal Court of Tunis and police officers.
In countries such as Tunisia, the race to recover embezzled funds – but also, increasingly, the fight against terrorism – requires intense cross-border collaboration. Tunisian judges and prosecutors trained by IDLO voiced a need for expertise in drafting letters rogatory (formal letters of request). In November, IDLO published a Practical Guide on International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters – the first of its kind for Tunisia. The guide, written in Arabic, is accompanied by a CD containing all international conventions signed by Tunisia. 2,500 copies were made available, ensuring that every magistrate would have one in their library.