CEU Democracy Institute Establishes Rule of Law Clinic

Analysis

Photo by Zoltán Tuba

Central European University (CEU) has established a Rule of Law Clinic at its Democracy Institute in Budapest, to address urgent challenges to the Rule of Law in Europe, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

With a EUR 1 mln grant from the Stiftung Mercator, the clinic, which became operational in recent months, is looking to bring third-party interventions to the highest courts giving the rule of law a voice and play a pivotal role in providing direct assistance to practitioners and scholars.

The clinic will offer public support to rule of law professionals, and facilitate fellowships to enhance expertise on pressing rule of law issues. It will also implement programs to enhance awareness among the public on the core values of the European Union and its Member States – including democracy, rule of law, and the protection of fundamental rights.

“This grant offers a unique opportunity to make a difference in Europe by offering hands-on support to the fundamental value of the rule of law, which is at the heart of what the European Union is about," said CEU professor Dimitry Kochenov, who is also a senior research fellow and lead researcher at the CEU Democracy Institute.

Over the next three years, the clinic will support practical rule of law work across Europe in a strictly non-partisan and a-political fashion, engaging with the issues of rule of law backsliding, undermining of checks and balances, and abuse of power. Its activities will also support judges, scholars and practitioners under attack for serving the interests of the rule of law, and help further develop the pro-bono initiative, which aims to hold power in Europe accountable, the press release argues

“Within and beyond its borders, Europe‘s political and societal future is closely intertwined with the Rule of Law. The CEU Democracy Institute Rule of Law Clinic is a unique project to protect and strengthen this fundamental principle, which we are pleased to support,” said Magdalena Kirchner, director of the Centre for Europe in the World, Stiftung Mercator.

The clinic has also established a Rule of Law Fellowship Program, comprising Senior Rule of Law Fellowships at the CEU Democracy Institute. The first fellow, Omer Shatz, an advocate of justice and accountability with a doctorate from Yale Law School, was appointed in October.

“The clinic will be a leading academic powerhouse that addresses current challenges to rule of law in Europe. It will provide support to professionals and conduct research while its outreach programs make the knowledge produced available to the public at large,” said CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria. “I am delighted that it is our Democracy Institute that gives home to this important initiative in which we partner with Stiftung Mercator.”

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