The first Rule of Law Forum provided the opportunity to take part in regionally focused plenary discussions about the key obstacles to national implementation of the Convention, common challenges across the region and benefits of regional cooperation in overcoming those. Strasbourg judges briefed participants about the latest developments in ECHR case law on issues most pertinent to the region.
The aim of the Forum was threefold. Firstly, to promote the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the region, secondly, to encourage regional cooperation over the continued development of the rule of law and human rights, and thirdly, to assist the process of EU integration across the region. This is the first time countries of the region have cooperated in this way. The Vice President of the Government of Montenegro and Minister of Justice, Dusko Markovic, and the President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro, Vesna Medinica, opened the event. The Forum also hosted four judges from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. The invited participants were from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The Forum brought together presidents and judges of supreme courts and constitutional courts from the region, directors of judicial training academies and institutions, government agents before the Strasbourg Court, representatives of NGOs and prominent legal experts in the field. The agenda included: (1) The AIRE Centre’s presentation on the European Human Rights Database for SEE; seminars by ECtHR judges and open panel discussions on: (2) new developments in ECHR jurisprudence relevant to the region and (3) the importance of national implementation of judgments. Participants were invited to attend small working groups to further develop discussion points brought up in seminars. Finally, the Forum finished with a short presentation by the Council of Europe’s (CoE) representative on the cooperative activities and programmes initiated in the region and a closing discussion. The Forum was a successful product of inter-regional cooperation and sharing of best practises in the field of judicial reform in the context of European integration and the organisers intend to host this regional event annually.