Regional Conference of Women Judges & Prosecutors

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Regional Conference of Women Judges & Prosecutors, May 20, 2017

Good morning everyone. Chair Morina, Ms. Emra, distinguished guests, thank you very much for the invitation to open day two of this conference. This is an incredible event, particularly ‎because this is the first time there has been such a regional conference for women judges and prosecutors in the Balkans. I am really pleased to see judges and prosecutors, representatives from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Romania. Women have not always had a significant voice and role in the Balkans, as you all know far better than I. Fortunately that situation is changing. And conferences like this illustrate just how far the Balkans have come. But there is a great deal more to be done. You all face issues that transcend the politics that divide you into different countries‎ and this is a great opportunity for you to discuss commonalities in your work and explore solutions to the challenges you face in the legal profession. This is also a chance to develop ways to make further progress. All of you have seen an increase in the appointment of women judges and prosecutors. Croatia, Macedonia and Romania have aggressively appointed women to important positions to combat corruption. Here in Kosovo, the President of the Constitutional Court is a woman.  As members of the justice system you need to be the ones guiding these changes and revising the laws. Your presence in the justice system promotes diversity. And when membership in a justice system is diverse the rule of law functions better for all people.

Since the creation of Kosovo’s Forum of Women Judges and Prosecutors there has been a significant increase in the number of women serving on the prosecutorial and judicial councils. The increased presence of women on these important decision making bodies is essential. This provides women a voice in the development of the legal profession. Additionally, the Forum identified problems with how Kosovo justice institutions deal with the issues of domestic violence. Identifying these problems was only the first step. The OPDAT program worked with the Forum to draft a benchbook for judges and prosecutors to improve the treatment of domestic violence cases. As a result there have been changes in the treatment of domestic violence cases. This has led to concrete improvements. Such a wide reaching change was only possible because of the power of a shared vision and purpose that has allowed female legal professionals in Kosovo to make a positive, sustainable change for the future.

Following my remarks, Jennifer Clarke, a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice Public Integrity Section will speak about the U.S. approach to combatting corruption. I encourage you to listen to her advice and her recommendations. But you should also draw upon the collective experience of your colleagues in the region. My hope is that you will use this conference to continue to improve your justice systems.

Borders do not prevent criminals from doing their work and they should not prevent you from doing your work either. I hope you will make new friends at this conference. I know that later today you will take a tour of the archeological site of Ulpiana and a tour of Prizren. I hope you enjoy it and that you use that opportunity to get to know your fellow participants. Working together is the best approach to ensure positive change.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak today. It is great to see you all here, and I hope the conference is extremely useful to everybody.