Durres, 8 February 2007
“Drafting of guidelines for strategy plans and training curricula for the training institutions of the Judiciary”
The Lisbon Network of the Council of Europe: Scope of work, strategies and goals
Secretary to the Lisbon Network
Directorate General of Legal Affairs
Council of Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the organisers for having invited the Lisbon Network of the Council of Europe to participate in this very interesting Roundtable which takes place in the framework of the CARDS Regional Project on the establishment of an independent, reliable and functioning judiciary and enhancing the judicial co-operation in the western Balkans.
It is a real pleasure for me to be present in this meeting, together with Mr Jorma HIRVONEN, who, as the Head of the Training Unit of the Ministry of Justice of Finland and as Chairman of the Bureau of the Lisbon Network, is a very well known and prominent figure in the world of judicial training in Council of Europe member States. Mr Hirvonen will later in the day moderate the Working Group devoted to “International Co-operation and Networking of Judicial Training Institutions within the Lisbon Network of the Council of Europe” and present the discussions and results achieved in that Working Group.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Lisbon Network, whose long name is European Network for the exchange of information between persons and entities responsible for the training of judges and public prosecutors, was set up in 1995 as part of the Council of Europe legal co-operation programmes in order to enable the different judicial training bodies in Europe to become better acquainted with each other, exchange information on matters of common interest and to support, by means of this dialogue, the setting up or further development of judicial training facilities in the new democracies of central and eastern Europe.
A little more than ten years later, nearly all European countries are now members of the Council of Europe. Many new member States have set up or are in the process of setting up schools to train judges and prosecutors. Currently, 43 of the 46 Council of Europe member States are represented in the Lisbon Network.
The mission of the Lisbon Network fully lies within the fulfilment of the goals of the Council of Europe, ie in particular the independence and efficiency of justice, which are a key factor in a State that guarantees Human Rights and founds its institutions on the Rule of Law.
The Council of Europe attaches special importance to the legal professions’ role - and in particular magistrates – taking into account the fact that unless the right training is provided for legal professions, judicial systems cannot function effectively and will forfeit public trust. The appropriate training of the judge partakes of its independence and its efficiency. This is why the Lisbon Network, whose main goal is to help in the development of the training of magistrates, in particular through the strengthening of exchanges of experience between the judicial training institutions and the common examination of shared problematics, contributes to the fulfilment of these essential goals of judicial independence and efficiency.
The citizens of Europe are making ever greater calls on the justice system (at both national and European level) and today they expect to be delivered a high quality public justice service. Consequently, the question of judicial training is becoming increasingly more important in all European countries: what should be the common element of training for the various judicial professions? what should be the balance between practice and theory? how to transform a person with a law degree into a judge entrusted with decisions regarding the daily life of citizens? what extra-legal topics should also be included in the training? what is the state’s responsibility in the training of judges? There is no shortage of questions to be addressed in these national discussions.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has set up a number of bodies to advise it on the Council’s justice policies (Consultative Council of European Judges – CCJE), to gain a better insight into the functioning of European justice systems and help improve their quality and efficiency (European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice – CEPEJ).
The work of these bodies has allowed the reinforcement and fine-tuning of European standards and the measures proposed by the Council of Europe concerning public justice policies, particularly as regards the training of judges and prosecutors. For example, CCJE Opinion No. 4 (2003) on initial and in-service training for judges; assessments of European justice systems, including a judicial training study, etc.
As a network of judicial practitioners, the Lisbon Network must become a regular interlocutor of those Council of Europe's structures entrusted with public policies of justice, namely the CEPEJ, the CCJE as well as the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE). A little later in my intervention, I shall give you some examples of the implemention of synergies between these bodies and the Lisbon Network.
Furthermore, the European Union has set up the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), enabling the 27 member States to step up their co-operation on judicial training and exchanges between the relevant institutions.
I would like to greet Mr Gilles Charbonnier, Secretary General of the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), with which the Lisbon Network has close links. Both bodies have regular exchanges of views on their respective activities and pursue a common reflection on the development of judicial training in European States. Since December 2003, the Council of Europe, through its Lisbon network, enjoys observer status with the EJTN. It participates in the General Assemblies of EJTN and so does EJTN in the plenary meetings of the Lisbon Network. Furthermore, EJTN enjoys observer status with the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice of the Council of Europe since July 2006 for a renewable period of two years. Furtherrmore, at its 8th plenary meeting held in Strasbourg on 16 and 17 October 2006, the Lisbon Network entrusted its Bureau to examine the possible reinforcement of partnership between the Lisbon Network and the EJTN, with a view of preparing a common document for adoption by both Networks. This work is currently under way.
It is essential that the Lisbon Network evolve to take account of the current context, in which judicial training plays a key role in improving the efficiency and quality of our justice systems. Such an evolution has already started.
In 2004, the Lisbon Network established a Bureau, responsible for defining the network’s strategy and to help ensure continuity.
The Bureau of the Network meets at least once a year, in order to:
§ set out the general thrust of the plenary’s discussions and proposals,
§ prepare contributions from the Network’s representatives to other bodies (eg the European judicial training network, CCJE, CEPEJ),
§ suggest, where appropriate, urgent action to be taken between two plenary meetings
The 7th plenary meeting of the Lisbon Network (Strasbourg, 23 – 24 December 2005) was an essential step forward which enabled to draw the basis towards a pro-active Network. This reflection must be pursued to move on from an “information exchange network” to a body tasked at pan-European level with providing active support for improving judicial training, ensuring complementarity with the work of the European Union, as called for by the Heads of State and Government at their 3rd Summit (Warsaw, May 2005) and highlighted by Jean-Claude JUNCKER in his report, entitled “Council of Europe - European Union: a sole ambition for the European continent”.
In this perspective and after a number of years of existence and activity, it was felt necessary to reflect on the strategy of the Lisbon Network, taking into account the development of judicial training in Europe and the need to enhance synergies at various levels.
As a direct consequence, the Lisbon Network, during its recent 8th plenary meeting, which was held in October 2006, adopted a document entitled “A Network to support judicial training in the Council of Europe member States” and entrusted its Bureau with the task of implementing it, in co-operation with the Secretariat and any relevant body within or outside the Council of Europe.
This document on the strategy of the Lisbon Network underlines that it should be a “European judicial training network” to:
§ step up its information exchange,
§ contribute to the debate on judicial training in Europe,
§ support judicial training in the countries of Europe
§ being a forum for joint reflection on judicial training, focusing on specific topics of common interest to all Council of Europe member states;
§ helping provide a better understanding of and monitor developments in the various judicial training systems in Council of Europe member states.
The Lisbon Network should also become a forum for reflection and proposals; it should be able to put forward suggested lines of approach for judicial training (proposed guidelines for Council of Europe activities, action priorities, etc) and contribute to the effective implementation of European standards (and in particular CCJE Opinion No. 4 (2003)).
It should also become a resource and information clearing house for information on judicial training.
I would like to underline that the Network has already started to work along the lines set up in this strategy document, even before its formal adoption by our October 2006 plenary meeting.
Indeed and for example, following the work done by its Bureau acting as an Ad Hoc Working Group, the Lisbon Network adopted the report of its Ad Hoc Working Group on the contribution of judicial training bodies to the concrete implementation of Opinion No 4 (2003) of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) on appropriate initial and in-service training for judges at national and European levels and agreed to forward it to the CCJE so that it could take it into account in the framework of its examination, with a view to its adoption, of a report to the Committee of Ministers on measures to make proper use of CCJE opinions in member States.
Still on the issue of the enhancement of synergies between various Council of Europe bodies, it should be stressed that at the invitation of the Chairman of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), made during his communication at the 8Th plenary meeting, the Lisbon Network entrusted its Bureau to examine the possible developments to be given to some other Opinions of the CCJE, in particular Opinions N° 6 (2004) on fair trial within a reasonable time and judges’ role in trials, taking into account alternative means of dispute settlement and Opinion N° 7 (2005) on “Justice and Society”.
The Lisbon Network also entrusted its Bureau to examine the part of the Report of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) : “European Judicial Systems - Edition 2006” relating to the training of magistrates.
The Strategy document I just refered to also foresees that the Lisbon Network should become a main source of Council of Europe expertise for its co-operation activities with member states in the field of judicial training. It must also become the privileged place for using information already available and, where necessary, additional researches.
In the same framework, members of the Lisbon Network should also be able to become directly involved with other network members on specific issues (horizontal co-operation). In particular, the activities of the Lisbon Network must help to strengthen horizontal co-operation between the European Union member States (grouped within the EJTN) and the other member States of the Council of Europe.
The same Strategy document foresees that the Network’s plenary should be able to meet if possible once a year, in order to:
§ reflect on topics of common interest (study session),
§ exchange information on judicial training in member states (allowing for contributions from all participants),
§ come up with proposals to be submitted to the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe,
§ prepare and adopt expert reports for member states which so request.
You are most probably all aware of the various themes which have be examined by the Plenary meetings over the years. I will just recall a few of them, such as “Training of Trainers” “The position of the Schools of Magistrates in the Judiciary and their role in the training of magistrates”, “The quality of training and common European standards for judicial training”, etc…
Let me nevertheless somewhat expand on the theme which was examined during the very interesting Study Session which was held during our last plenary meeting in October 2006. As in the past, the theme was related to the training of magistrates, but this time the approach was somewhat different. Indeed, the theme ie “Training the magistrate for his/her interaction with the parties” focused more specifically on the users of justice. The sub-themes dealt with the following issues:
- training the judge and the prosecutor to behave appropriately with the defendant (pedagogy, choice of the language during the various phases of the procedure, awareness of the impact of the prosecution and of the judicial decisions on the defendant),
- training the judge and the prosecutor to behave appropriately with vulnerable persons (victims, minors, etc..), taking into account in particular Resolution No 1 on victims of crime, adopted by the European Ministers of Justice at their 27th Conference held in Yerevan, Armenia, on 12 and 13 October 2006, in which they “recommend in particular that the Secretary General of the Council of Europe ensures that the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of training of police and personnel involved in the administration of justice include the question of the appropriate ways in which to deal with vulnerable persons, particularly victims”,
- training the civil judge to behave appropriately between two parties, including to facilitate mediation (as a mediator or to propose a mediation procedure).
In the decisions adopted at the end of the meeting, the Lisbon Network underlined the pressing necessity to place more and more the users of justice –defendant, victim, party to a civil litigation – at the heart of the preoccupations of the judicial system and, hence, to create or develop training in the above mentioned areas.
It accordingly recommended to the judicial training institutions of the Council of Europe member States to create or develop a specific training in the above fields and entrusted its Bureau to report at its plenary meeting in 2009 on the state of development of the said training within the judicial training institutions.
This means that the discussions held in October are meant to be followed by concrete actions by the judicial training bodies in the Council of Europe member States and that the Lisbon Network will follow - up the implementation of the latter Recommendation. This also shows that the Lisbon Network is becoming a more and more proactive body, also during the periods between two plenary meetings.
This meeting gives me the occasion to warmly reiterate this message to the members of the Lisbon Network who are present today so that they develop specific training on these issues which, as I just said, have been considered so important by our plenary meeting.
The strategy document furthermore foresees that the Lisbon Network should participate in the Council of Europe’s bilateral and multilateral co-operation activities as part of its legal co-operation programmes (and in line with the budgetary resources allocated to those programmes), including the joint programmes with the European Commission, by:
§ involving the Lisbon Network experts in the various co-operation activities,
§ informing the plenary of the opinions and expert reports drawn up at the request of member states in the framework of the Council of Europe’s co-operation programmes,
§ pursuing a regular information policy for Network members on the completed and scheduled judicial training-related activities in the Council of Europe, including during the Network’s plenary meetings.
It should in particular be noted in this respect that the Lisbon Network has supported in 2006 the first “Themis” Initial Training International Showroom organised by the National Institute of Magistracy of Romania on the themes of Ethics and Human Rights and that it will also support the second edition of this initiative which will be organised in the week of 24 September 2007 in Lisbon by the Centre for Judicial Studies of Portugal. This year, the teams of students and trainers from the participating Schools will reflect on the following subjects:
1- International Cooperation in Criminal Matters
2- International Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters
3- Interpretation and Application of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights
4- Magistrates’ Ethics and Deontology
I would like to inform you that three experts appointed by the Lisbon Network will sit on the juries on the European Convention on Human Rights and on Ethics and Deontology.
Last but not least, I would like to inform all participants that, in line with the strategy document I refered to and which called for the development of the Lisbon Network website, and in conformity with the relevant decision of the last plenary meeting, the Lisbon Network has a new Website since 22 January 2007. The site continues to offer standard functions, and now has easy-to-read sections with improved and simplified navigation tools. New functions are also available, such as the list of the Network's members and associated training institutions and programmes. The new website also offers to visitors a direct link to the website of the EJTN. I hope that, with the active co-operation of all the members of the Lisbon Network, this website will become a reference site for the European judicial community and general public, providing information on judicial training in Council of Europe member States.
The new Website of the Lisbon Network will also be an efficient tool with a view to increasing or multiplying the visibility of events. I have just mentioned the very interesting initiative of the Portuguese School regarding the second edition of the Themis Initial Training International Showroom. We have offered the School the possibility to give some information and news about this event and when the School will find it appropriate, information will be available on the new Website of the Lisbon Network.
The Website address is www.coe.int/lisbon-network
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to reiterate my thanks to the organisers for having invited the Lisbon Network to participate in this meeting and I thank you very much for your kind attention.