With CEELI Insitute support and encouragement, the Supreme Courts of Central and Eastern Europe have joined together to sign a landmark Statement of Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. The Principles were approved at the Annual Conference of the Chief Justices, hosted by the Supreme Court of Croatia, in Brijuni, Croatia, in October 2015. Justices from the Supreme Courts of 16 participating countries from the region signed the Statement. It represents the culmination of three years of work by the Justices.

The Statement is to some extent modeled on the 1997 Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, drafted and signed by the Conference of Chief Justices of the Asia Pacific Region. The “Brijuni Statement of Principles“ will now stand alongside the Bangalore Principles and other key international instruments which provide a foundation in international law for the concept of an independent judiciary as fundamental to the Rule of Law. As the Brijuni Principles themselves state: “[T]he implementation and protection of all rights depends on the existence of a competent, independent, and impartial judiciary.“ As was stated by the Hon. Branko Hrvatin, President of the Supreme Court of Croatia, “The Brijuni Statement represents the unwavering commitment by the Judiciaries of Central and Eastern Europe to the rule of law, and to a shared belief in judicial independence.“

Significantly, the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe was originally launched with INL support, at the CEELI Insitute in Prague, back in 2011, with participation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Since then, it has become a self-sustaining annual effort, largely organized and financed by the participating Courts themselves. The CEELI Insitute, along with our board member, Judge John M. Walker, Jr., of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, continue to be actively involved in supporting the efforts and organization of the Conference. Judge Walker was instrumental in bringing the Brijuni Statement to completion.

A copy of the Brijuni Statement is available on the CEELI Institute website at www.ceeliinstitute.org, and we will be printing hard copy versions for distribution to the participating courts. The original, signed copies of the Brijuni Statement will continue to be preserved and maintained by the Supreme Court of Croatia.