U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs > Releases From the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs > Fact Sheets on Near Eastern Affairs > 2003 > July-December
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Washington, DC
September 15, 2003

Arab Judicial Forum 2003: Judicial Systems in the 21st Century

The Kingdom of Bahrain, in partnership with the United States Government, is hosting the Arab Judicial Forum 2003 – Judicial Systems in the 21st Century from September 15-17, 2003 in Manama, Bahrain. The objectives of the forum are to generate discussion among regional participants on essential elements of sound judicial systems, to identify common issues, and to develop plans for ongoing programs to address those issues.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has invited country delegations that include both high-level government officials, specifically Ministers of Justice and Chief Justices, as well as non-government reformers in the judicial arena. Delegations from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the Palestinian Authority are invited. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will lead the Unites States delegation and Mrs. Cherie Booth will lead the United Kingdom delegation. Representatives from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also been invited.

The forum will center on four key themes: 1) judicial selection, ethics and training; 2) judicial role in human rights protection; 3) efficiency of procedural systems; and 4) transnational judicial and legal cooperation. For each theme the forum will host a plenary panel discussion followed by in-depth working group sessions. The forum will conclude with final presentations by the working groups and announcements of follow-on regional activities in the judicial field. The Arab Judicial Forum is a program of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and is the first in a series of partnership activities on judicial issues.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative

In his May 9, 2003 speech at the University of South Carolina, President George W. Bush reaffirmed the U.S. Government's commitment to the Middle East through two key essential elements, the Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). MEPI was founded to work with governments and people in the Arab world to expand economic, political, and educational opportunity for all people of the region. The initiative strives to link Arab, U.S., and global private sector businesses; non-governmental organizations; civil society elements; and governments together to develop innovative policies and programs to achieve this mission.

In the economic pillar, MEPI policy and programs support region-wide economic and employment growth driven by private sector expansion and entrepreneurship. In the political pillar, MEPI champions an expanded public space and seeks to strengthen democratic processes; promote the rule of law, accountability, and effective government institutions; and strengthen the role of media in society. In the education pillar, MEPI envisions education systems that enable all people, including women and girls, to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in today’s economy and improve the quality of their life and that of their families. Among the hallmark activities being conducted under the auspices of MEPI are the establishment of the Middle East Finance Corporation (economic pillar), a regional Judicial Forum and Regional Campaign Schools (political pillar), and literacy and stay-in-school incentive programs as well as Arabic-language primary reading materials (education pillar).

The Deputy Secretary of State is the Coordinator for the Middle East Partnership Initiative. The Department of State's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau’s Partnership Initiative Office manages the policy and programs under MEPI and works closely with agencies across the U.S. Government. For more information about MEPI and specific programs please visit http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rt/mepi/.

The Kingdom of Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a modern, moderate Arab state, and a regional leader on a range of issues. A constitutional monarchy headed by H.M. King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Bahrain has seen a number of significant developments in recent years, including overwhelming popular support for the country’s National Action Charter, the basis of its new constitution, and parliamentary and municipal elections in 2002, in which all Bahrainis over 18 were entitled to vote and stand as candidates.

In addition, significant changes have taken place within Bahrain’s judicial system, including the establishment of a Constitutional Court, and the country continues to look closely at its legal and judicial system to determine improvements that bring it into line with the needs of Bahrain’s people. As a regional banking and financial center with relatively limited natural resources, Bahrain fully recognizes the importance of developing its greatest resource -- its people -- and has implemented a range of policies to ensure that world-class education, training, and healthcare are available to all. As a result, Bahrain has consistently been ranked first in the Arab world by the UN Development Program's (UNDP) annual Human Development Report; is rated the 16th most free economy in the world, again leading the Arab world, in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom 2003; and has achieved consistently high ratings in other similar studies.

Arab Judicial Forum 2003 -- Media Information

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Information will staff and equip a media center during the Forum. All media establishments are invited to attend the following events:

  • Opening Ceremony: Monday, September 15 from 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Closing Ceremony: Wednesday, September 17 from 1:30–2:30 p.m.
  • Press Briefing: Wednesday, September 17 from 2:00–2:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, September 16 the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Information and the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain will schedule one-on-one interviews with Bahraini and U.S. delegates. One-on-one interviews with other delegation members should be coordinated through their Embassies in Bahrain. On Wednesday, September 17, the forum will tentatively host a small media roundtable with several delegates to discuss the forum themes in-depth. Additional forum information will be sent to registered media participants. To register as a media participant please contact:

Rashid bin Adbulrahman Al Khalifa
Kingdom of Bahrain, Ministry of Information
Tel: +973 684222
Fax: +973 781400
E-mail: bahmedia@batelco.com.bh
Aleta F. Wenger or George Farag
Embassy of the United States, Bahrain
Tel: +973 273300 Extension 1272
Fax: +973 270547
wengera@state.gov; faragg@state.gov

Arab Judicial Forum 2003 - Venue

The Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel
Box 5243, Manama, Bahrain
Tel.: + 973 531666, Fax: 973 530843
Toll-Free Numbers: Bahrain 800 001, Kuwait 800 288,
Qatar 0800 011 77, Saudi Arabia 1 800 10, UAE 800 121
AT&T toll-free number: after prompt, callers should ask for/dial 888 333 8055
Web sites: www.radissonsas.com - www.diplomatrdsas.com.bh

Attachment A:
Arab Judicial Forum -- Topic Overview

1) Judicial Selection, Ethics, and Training. This theme explores the various means by which judges are appointed, the manner in which nations ensure that judges act in an ethical manner, and the need for and methods of training judges. In all of these areas, the participants will consider how to ensure that judges’ independence is preserved.

2) Judicial Role in Human Rights. Conference participants will review the judiciary’s potential to play a critical role in safeguarding human rights. In particular, participants will discuss courts’ obligation to treat all citizens equally and to protect the rights of those accused of criminal wrongdoing. The role of non-governmental organizations in protecting human rights will also be discussed.

3) Efficiency of Procedural Systems. Throughout the world, nations are attempting to speed the efficiency and effectiveness of courts. Participants will examine ways to streamline trials and review possible alternatives to trials, including mediation and arbitration.

4) Transnational Judicial and Legal Cooperation. The forum will analyze legal issues that reach across national borders such as international crime, money laundering and corruption, the enforcement of judgments in foreign countries, and the possible benefits of uniform statutes on foreign investment.


  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.