Justice Sector Capacity Building

This program supports justice sector reform and transitional justice in post-conflict societies with a focus on international and domestic courts in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Cambodia, and the Philippines. The Center's ASEAN Judiciaries Initiative convenes judicial actors from across ASEAN Member States to examine regional integration. Since its original founding nearly two decades ago, the Center has supported judicial capacity building in international criminal tribunals and domestic courts. Past training programs have included judges from the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in Timor-Leste, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the Supreme Court of the Philippines.  Our training programs are built around interactive seminars and workshops, which bring distinguished senior judges, prosecutors, and other experts from courts such as the International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the International Criminal Court together with their colleagues in other courts.

ASEAN Judiciaries Initiative

The ASEAN Judiciaries Initiative is another component of our justice sector capacity building portfolio. The initiative was launched with expert input from the Center in 2012 when representatives from all 10 ASEAN judiciaries met in Phnom Penh to discuss ASEAN integration, the result of a collaboration between USAID and the ASEAN Secretariat. Delegations agreed to an action agenda of priority areas that need to be addressed including legal harmonization, enforcement of judgments, facilitating cross-border investment and transactions, and increasing transparency in the judicial process. A second meeting was held in Singapore in March 2014, funded by the Singaporean Government, USAID, and the Center for Human Rights and International Justice. From there, the group has formed working groups to outline concrete policy recommendations and draft regulations over the next several years as the integration process evolves. Now brought under the framework of the new association of ASEAN Supreme Court Chief Justices, and with the collaboration of USAID and the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, working groups from the 10 ASEAN judiciaries most recently convened in Manila in February 2016.

Philippine Judiciary Training

At the request and under the auspices of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, with the support of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Maria Lourdes Sereno, the Center has provided training on international criminal law for the Philippine judiciary. The workshops included participants from all branches of the judiciary, as well as lawyers, and legal officers in various government ministries and other bodies. The workshops addressed salient topics including crimes against humanity, genocide, modes of liability, evidentiary and procedural issues, and maritime security. The courses have been led by distinguished faculty and criminal law experts, including Judge Fausto Pocar of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and former President of that Tribunal; Dato Shyamala Alagendra, international defense counsel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and former prosecutor at the UN tribunals in Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, and the ICC; Karim Khan QC, international defense counsel at the ICC and also a former international prosecutor; Antonio Carpio, Senior Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court; and Professor Diane Desierto, an external Faculty Fellow of the Center.

Phillipines Judiciary Training Course trainers and members pose for a photograph.

Photo: Trainers and members of the Philippine Judiciary Training

Legal Education Training

Since 2013, we have worked closely with partners at the East-West Center to collaborate with Cambodian universities supporting the integration of interactive teaching methodologies and critical inquiry into legal education.

Fair Trial Rights Curriculum 

The pilot fair trial rights curriculum, developed at the beginning of 2013 for the program, is now offered as a permanent, compulsory course at Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE) as part of the English Based Bachelor of Laws Program. Over 250 young Cambodian law students have completed the course either as part of the undergraduate bachelor of laws program at RULE or the “Master Programme in International Human Rights Law” at Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC). The course adopts an experiential approach to learning and integrates a unique clinical legal education component—the first of its kind in Cambodia. In 2015, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Humanitarian Law, a human rights center at RULE, we expanded the program to the University of Cambodia to train an additional 10 young academics to deliver the course in law schools nationwide.


Cambodian professors stand by a paper hanging on a wall covered in post-its as they workshop interactive teaching methodologies.
Photo: Law students workshopping; Kurt Hickman, Stanford News

Indonesia Blasphemy Law Training

Having completed our study on the interpretation and application of the Indonesian blasphemy lawthe need to strengthen judicial training regimes on human rights became apparent. The Center for Human Rights and International Justice and our partner, the Indonesian Institute for Independent Judiciary, set out to improve Indonesian judges' understanding of Indonesian human rights laws and Indonesia’s obligations under international human rights instruments that have been incorporated into Indonesian law. The module on the implementation of blasphemy law provides an analysis of the laws and a practical guideline for judges in implementing them. Furthermore, it advises on applying the laws in accordance with the guarantees of freedom of expression, religion, conscience, and belief under the Indonesian Constitution and Law 39/1999 on Human Rights. The module aims to provide guidelines for Indonesian judges to balance human rights principles against claims of public harmony or security in blasphemy cases.