Judicial Assistance Program

The negotiating process for regional and international treaties on human rights and humanitarian law requires in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and related topics, as well as a delegation that is sufficiently large enough to cover the numerous and often concurrent formal and informal meetings on specific provisions or parts of the treaty. Many of these types of treaties also require States to implement their provisions at the national level, which requires knowledge of existing domestic law and relevant international law to ensure full and effective implementation. However, many countries lack either the human resources or the specific knowledge required to participate fully in such negotiations or to implement regional and international treaties effectively in domestic law. As such, some States may find it challenging to ensure their concerns are heard and their input received during such negotiations or may face obstacles in ensuring the full and effective implementation of obligations they have undertaken at the regional or international level.
In an attempt to address this gap, from 1998 to 2008 NPWJ’s Judicial Assistance Program seconded legal advisers who were experts in relevant areas of international law to governments, member State Missions to the United Nations and to other interested parties, including Parliamentarians. NPWJ’s experience with ratification and implementation processes shows that this technical cooperation element is an effective - in some cases necessary - complement to political campaigns to encourage ratification and implementation of international treaties. Importantly, it can assist in monitoring effectiveness by assessing which delays are due to technical hurdles and which are due to the absence of political will.
NPWJ began undertaking the Judicial Assistance Program in 1998, when 35 experts in international criminal law were seconded to several delegations at the Rome Diplomatic Conference on the Establishment of the International Criminal Court. The program continued as requested by the delegations in question in subsequent meetings and negotiations. NPWJ has also seconded legal advisers who are experts in the relevant disciplines to requesting Ministries in several countries and to specific institutions, to assist in negotiations on international treaties, domestic implementation of international obligations and the proper functioning of institutions. NPWJ's Judicial Assistance Program was also implemented in other thematic areas of NPWJ's work, including in particular in the Female Genital Mutilation Program.

Role and responsibilities of NPWJ-seconded legal advisers
NPWJ-seconded legal advisers provided timely and accurate legal advice on issues that arose in relation to the subject matter of the treaty concerned and on related matters. Typically, legal advisers participated in negotiations as part of the government delegations of assisted countries, reported to their designated Head of Delegation (usually the Ambassador or a government expert from the capital) and acted on their instructions. Their role was usually to brief their Head of Delegation on the on-going deliberations, explain the legal and practical consequences that would result from the various options on the table, draft statements and highlight important points in the discussion where the recipient Government might wish to intervene, depending on its policy priorities. Some Heads of Delegations also required their legal advisers to intervene on behalf of the Government on specific points in the deliberations, read prepared statements, or take particular positions during formal and informal consultations. NPWJ-seconded legal advisers have also provided advice on draft legislation, including the preparation of such draft legislation, and performed a range of functions as requested by the Ministry or institution to which they were seconded.

Selection of legal advisers
NPWJ identified seconded legal advisers (preferably local personnel) by using its database, which was continuously updated and which also includes recommendations made by NPWJ’s local partners. Legal advisers were selected through curricula evaluation, interviews and references.