Jifa (the Judicial Institute for Africa) has for some time been aware of the need to establish an African association of judicial training organisations, and co-hosted a three-day meeting in Dakar, Senegal, earlier this month to investigate the possibility. A group of anglophone and francophone training institute directors and representatives attended. Jifa director, Vanja Karth, said afterwards that the meeting, sponsored by the German development agency, GIZ, had been a great success and led to the group (pictured) formulating the ‘Dakar Declaration’. This declaration 'concretised the shared vision of an African body, and committed the parties to a validation meeting in November.’
The declaration, signed at the end of the meeting, notes that the rule of law and democracy require the establishment of an effective and credible judiciary and that the efficiency and credibility of the judiciary depended on the training of competent judicial officers.
It reaffirmed the need for close cooperation between regional and international groups on the question of training and acknowledge the shared challenges related to financial and educational resources in judicial training.
The declaration also committed all the parties to the 10 principles of the International Organisation of Judicial Training.
The parties agreed to collaborate around judicial training with the aim of creating a formal network of judicial training institutes and other similar judicial training bodies.
Credible judicial systems
Among other aims, they want to cooperate in establishing ‘credible judicial systems’ and promoting the rule of law in Africa. They also want to enhance cooperation and exchanges between judicial training institutions and member jurisdictions, improve the quality of training and harmonise teaching programmes in member institutions.
The parties further want to cooperate in providing training and building the capacity of trainers, as well as sharing and promoting ‘research, publication and documentation in all fields of legal and judicial interest’.
The parties, led by Jifa and the Reseau African Francophone de Formation Judiciaire (RAFJ), declared their intention to work towards a ‘genuine partnership for collaboration’ in African judicial education. In addition to Jifa and RAFJ, the signatories included individuals representing judicial training institutes and similar bodies from Senegal, Uganda, Zanzibar, Zambia, Seychelles, Niger, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea, Malawi and Kenya. Representatives of Tanzania and Mozambique also indicated their support though they were unable to attend. Other signatories included a judge representative of the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration of the Organisation for the Harmonisation in Africa of Business Law, a senior official of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights.