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Opening Remarks: The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

By US Department of State
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WASHINGTON, June 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Remarks

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley

U.S. Ambassador to Malta

Valletta, Malta

June 20, 2014

Thank you, Minister Vella. It's wonderful to be here today in the beautiful city of Valletta to celebrate the historic opening of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law. Malta provides an ideal home for the Institute – quite literally linking the European and African continents - and with deep historical ties in both directions. I want to thank the Government of Malta for its hospitality and generosity in hosting this new center. I'm delighted to represent the United States here today. We pledge our unwavering support for the Institute, including through financial contributions to support its programs and development over the coming years.

With its emphasis on civilian security, the Institute offers us all a unique platform to develop and deliver the comprehensive, integrated, and sustainable training required to address 21st century transnational threats most effectively. It will play a central role in our collective efforts to support countries in North, West, and East Africa and the Middle East as they turn the page on old approaches, approaches that sometimes were defined by an extreme focus on regime security and repression. Instead, the Institute will teach adherence to the rule of law and protecting the security and liberty of the people that governments are meant to serve.

It was almost two years ago to the day when the United States and Turkey, as the co-chairs of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), announced this initiative at the GCTF's second ministerial meeting in Istanbul. We were pleased then with the strong political support the project received. Since then, we've been heartened by the range of partners – including governments, the UN, national training academies, and non-governmental organizations – that have contributed in concrete ways to the development of this center. All of this underscores the international dimension of the center and the notion that this is an idea whose time has come.

The United States thanks the other international partners here today who worked tirelessly to develop this innovative multilateral training center. We're pleased that support for the Institute continues to grow, and we welcome our fellow founding members – Algeria, France, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. They agreed to join Malta, Turkey, and the United States, and soon the European Union, as founders and members of the Institute's board of administrators. We're also delighted to see senior representatives from the United Nations here, and we welcome the UN's contributions to the Institute's development.

We're very much looking forward to working with all of you. Together, we will ensure that the Institute becomes a hub for the delivery of justice sector training, training that allows governments in Africa and the Middle East to deal with the very real threats posed by terrorism and other transnational criminal activity in a responsible manner – in both the short and long-term.

We envisage the Institute being more than a training center, however. We believe it can and must contribute to the wider rule of law institutional development and reform efforts in the regions it targets. Its mission must include educating a new generation of criminal justice officials. It will help influence a change in mindset that is critical to ensuring that the training and tools are fully utilized and the reforms are implemented. Although it has become a truism, it is nevertheless worth emphasizing that strong and effective counterterrorism policies are not incompatible with adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights. There is growing consensus that counterterrorism efforts are most effective when grounded in human rights obligations and the rule of law.

We're delighted that the Institute will offer its first training activity starting tomorrow at the University of Malta, which agreed to host the Institute until the center's permanent home is ready in the armory.

This two-day event will focus on using the Global Counterterrorism Forum's criminal justice good practices to stymie terrorist facilitation networks in the Sahel and Maghreb. Next week, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime will bring to the Institute some two dozen Libyan and regional criminal justice and law enforcement officials in charge of cross-border cooperation on terrorist cases. In the fall, the Institute will host the kick-off of a GCTF-UN initiative aimed at building informal judicial cooperation in CT cases among countries in the Sahel and Maghreb, and then hold the first in a series of seminars on what it means in concrete terms to prevent and respond to terrorism within a rule of law framework. Ensuring the long-term success of this Institute is a priority of both the White House and Secretary Kerry. Success requires the sustained contributions – both financial and in-kind – from a wide range of countries and organizations. The United States stands ready to do its part. We look forward to working with our fellow founders, board members, and other partners to provide the Institute with the guidance, expertise, and resources it needs to thrive for years to come.

Thank you.