WASHINGTON, DC, December 21, 2011—The Institute of International Education (IIE) was honored to administer the Saudi Judicial Engagement Project on behalf of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the U.S. Department of State. In partnership with The Aspen Institute Justice and Society Program and Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy, IIE implemented a two-week study tour for 20 Saudi Arabian judicial representatives – including 18 judges and 2 Ministry of Justice officials from across The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The study tour included visits to Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, and New York, NY, from December 3 – 15, 2011 and exposed the visiting Saudi Arabian officials to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Federal Judicial Center, the U.S. Department of Justice, Delaware Court of Chancery, the U.S. Court of International Trade, the New York County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Bankruptcy Court, among others.
The Saudi Judicial Engagement Project recognizes the importance of a modernized judiciary in an increasingly global legal environment and seeks to complement the King Abdullah Project on the Development of the Judiciary. As part of the King’s judicial reforms, Saudi Arabia has established specialized commercial courts and granted more autonomy to administrative court officials in sentencing. A major focus of the U.S. study tour was to provide the visiting judges with an introduction into how the U.S. court system adjudicates complex commercial disputes, including cases that deal with bankruptcy, intellectual property, and international trade.
“The Saudi Judicial Engagement Project marks the first time this many judges, from such geographically diverse locations within Saudi Arabia, have visited the United States for a two-week program focusing so intensely on commercial law,” said Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the IIE. “We are honored to be administering this important exchange on behalf of the Middle East Partnership Initiative at the U.S. Department of State.”
A planned second phase of the project includes a judicial engagement conference in Saudi Arabia, to be held in 2012. This conference will enable the Saudi Arabian judicial representatives who came to the United States to engage their colleagues in a dialogue about the American and Saudi Arabian judicial systems.
This project is funded through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). MEPI is a unique program designed to engage directly with and invest in the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). MEPI works to create vibrant partnerships with citizens to foster the development of pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies throughout the MENA region. MEPI partners with local, regional and international non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic institutions, and governments. More information about MEPI can be found at: www.mepi.state.gov.