Over 25 judges from across the world will gather for the Second International Meeting of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment from 19-21 May 2017 in Brazil.
The Global Judicial Institute on Environment (GJIE) was founded in April 2016 with the adoption of its Charter during the 1st World Environmental Law Congress in Rio de Janeiro. This second meeting brings together numerous representatives of courts and tribunals, national judicial associations, and multilateral organizations to work with IUCN’s World Commission on Environmental Law to provide additional support to judicial institutions for enforcing existing environmental law and to promote the environmental rule of law. Participants at the meeting will move forward on decisions to establish the Institute’s structure and legal personality, as well as arrangements for a secretariat and membership, and future activities. Stay tuned for ongoing reports from the days’ sessions.
Opening of the 2nd International Meeting of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment
Judges from over 20 countries began consultations on 15 May in Brasilia to continue building momentum to operationalize objectives of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment GJIE. The day commenced with introductions and remarks from Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin. He emphasized that the GJIE is an “organization by judges for judges” to promote the environmental rule of law. The GJIE Charter was presented and a short introduction proved to bring additional colleagues up to speed on the founding document. Discussion turned to the institutional structure, including options for organizational incorporation, and developing GJIE through strong international and inter-organizational cooperation.
Judges make progress shaping the Global Judicial Institute on Environment
Preliminary discussions continued at the 2nd International Meeting of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment in Brasilia as judges from around the world worked diligently through an agenda focused on the statute of incorporation, considered opportunities for future institutional hosting arrangements, and identified modalities for membership.
After a quick lunch and tour of the National High Court of Brazil, participants returned invigorated to further determine the shape and functions of the GJIE as an international association of judges for judges. It was of high importance to all present that the legal personality of the GJIE be founded upon a strong statute of incorporation that can stand the test of time across multiple countries and jurisdictions. It is generally agreed that both individuals and institutions will be offered the opportunity to become members of the Institute. This allows for maximizing collaboration and combining resources to allow members to contribute in multiple ways to have the greatest reach and impact.
Participants then turned to the future location and administration of the Institute through a secretariat. A draft “Call for Letters of Interest” was presented for discussion, revision, and eventual approval. Building upon the wealth of participation and support throughout the phases of establishment, the call would outline what the GJIE requires of an organization to first host a temporary Secretariat and then lead to the selection of a permanent home.
In open discussions concluding afternoon sessions, a number of avenues were identified for the GJIE to be promoted by different institutions and individuals in an array of fora. Concrete results included agreement to prepare a power point presentation in multiple languages to be used to promote GJIE. It was also agreed that the institute will seek to engage in the work of the United Nations, other international fora, and at national and regional levels as far and necessary as possible.
GJIE Statute, membership, and hosting options on agenda
The Second International Meeting of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment continued deliberations at Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Participants undertook a second reading of the draft Statute, considered aspects for establishing membership, and continued work on the “Call for Letters of Interest” to identify a host institution.
Judges and experts from around the world gathered on the perimeter of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park on 20-21 May to prepare and approve outcome documents. The second reading of the draft GJIE Statute was a highly participative exercise allowing for an article by article review of the language. These discussions informed considerations for membership; highlighting the importance of regional, linguistic, ethnic and ecological diversity across GJIE governance structures. Additionally, participants agreed on rigorous membership criteria reflected in the draft Statute to ensure the integrity of both individual and institutional members.
To support daily functions, the Institute will identify host institutions and/or organizations to support the GJIE Secretariat. A draft “Call for Letters of Interest” was presented during the meeting and refined to accurately explain the purpose, objectives, and requirements for institutional operation. Pending a second reading, the letter will be widely disseminated to solicit interest.
The day was capped by a site visit to Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park. The group was honored to be escorted by the Director of the park and his highly knowledgeable staff experiencing the unique geology of the park, and fauna and flora of the Cerrado biome. Participants hiked into the canyon of Rio Preto "Black River” visiting two of the hundreds of waterfalls within the park boundary.
Adoption of the Statute of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment
The last day of the 2nd International Meeting of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment opened with rays of morning sun dispersing the cooling rains. Final drafts of the Statute and “Call for Letters of Interest” were approved by the meeting, an Interim Governing Committee was appointed, and upcoming activities and potential partnerships discussed. In conclusion, the Statute of the Global Judicial Institute for the Environment was signed.
With an eye to conformity across the GJIE Charter, Statute, and “Call for Letters of Interest”, participants undertook a final review of all outstanding points. A rich discussion focused on the language of the Statute, and necessary regional and gender balance across the membership and leadership of the Institute. In regards to identifying a host, it was decided that GJIE will first seek to identify a temporary Secretariat for a period of 3-5 years, after which time a permanent home can be selected. Criteria include provision of office space, a minimum of one full-time staff member, capacity to produce and contribute to judicial education materials and programs, the ability to develop and maintain media, communication, and organizational support, and financial and in-kind support.
Proceeding with governance arrangements, Antonio Benjamin (Brazil), Ragnhild Noer (Norway), and Michael Wilson (USA) were elected as the three initial members of the Interim Governing Committee. They were chosen according to their role as coordinators in planning and carrying out this meeting and their participation in the 1st World Environmental Law Congress in April 2016. This initial group will invite partner institutions and Founding Members (those present at the 1st meeting in 2016 and the 2nd meeting in 2017) to nominate candidates to fill the maximum 14 positions on the Interim Governing Committee. The interim arrangement will be in place for no longer than two years to plan and execute the election of the Governing Council as the supreme decision-making body of the Institute.
The GJIE is intended as a forum to unify the ongoing efforts of various national and international organizations already preparing, training, and enhancing the capacity of judges on environmental issues. Therefore, it is important to match the Institute’s activities with existing initiatives, as well as those of current and future partners. The following events and activities were identified as opportunities for enhanced coordination:
- July 3-4, 2017: International Colloquium "Perspectives on Environmental Law in the Democratic Republic of Congo" in Kinshasa (DRC);
- 20-21 September, 2017: EU Environmental Enforcement Networks Conference in Oxford (UK) at Magdalen College
- 22-23 September, 2017: EU Forum of Judges for the Environment “EUFJE” Annual Conference 2017 “Climate Change and the Judiciary” in Oxford (UK) at Merton College
- 24-28 September 2017: Commonwealth Magistrates' and Judges' Association – CMJA Conference 2017 “Building an Effective, Accountable and Inclusive Judiciary" in Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania)
- March 18-23, 2018: World Water Forum (political forum and 2-day side-event) in Brasilia (Brazil);
- 11-16 November, 2018: Global Meeting of the International Association of Judges in Santiago (Chile)
Having concluded all agenda points, the 2nd International Meeting was closed and the signing ceremony of the GJIE Statute proceeded. The GJIE Statute now being adopted, the Institute will prepare necessary documentation for registration in Switzerland. Thereafter, GJIE will be incorporated as an international organization directed by judges and for judges to support the role of judges, courts, and tribunals in applying and enforcing environmental laws and in promoting the environmental rule of law.
Many thanks to all those who have provided critical support for the creation of the GJIE, including the International Association of Judges, the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment, UN Environment, Asian Development Bank, Organization of American States, Brazilian Association of Judges, Brazilian Association of Federal Judges, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and many academic institutions.