Palestine // International Conference on Legal Profession

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By Willem van Nieuwkerk

The Hebron University College of Law and Political Science hosted an international conference titled “Legal profession in Palestine from a global context: Prospects for reform” between 23-24 November 2016. The conference was organised under the auspice of the “Capacity development in higher legal education” project funded by EP-Nuffic.

The project, which is led by CILC and An-Najah National University as the leading implementing local partner, seeks to facilitate access to justice through capacity building initiatives that contribute to the legal educational landscape of participating universities in Palestine, including also Birzeit University, Al Quds University, Hebron University and the Palestinian Judicial Institute. The project also benefits from close cooperation with Dutch (academic) partners, including Utrecht University, VU University Amsterdam, Saxion University of Applied Sciences and MDF Training & Consultancy.

Around 200 participants attended the event, including many notable political figures from Palestine, as well as national and international academics, legal practitioners, relevant actors from the private sector and representatives from a number of human rights based NGOs. During the conference, legal experts and practitioners from around the world shared their experiences. Twenty speakers presented their papers on a range of themes, including “Labor Market: Requirements and Challenges”, “Legal Aid Systems”, “Legal Ethics” as well as gender imbalance as a salient issue in the legal profession.

In his speech titled “The urgent need of critical scholarship in Palestinian legal education” Emilio Dabed, Palestine and Law Fellow and Assistant Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School-Center for Palestine Studies 2015-2016, expressed that in assessing the performative impact of judicial phenomena “an analysis of the relation between law, practices and discourses, on the one hand, and political and social changes, in the other hand, is imperative”. With regards to legal education in the Palestinian territories, he expressed that “if we want our students to really understand the role of law in contemporary Palestine -and beyond- we need to rigorously and systematically introduce them to the idea that law does not simply represent a code of norms and prohibitions, but also practices and discourses, a complex assemblage of indefinite mechanisms, ruling devices, and disciplinary tools that not only reflects but also produces and reinforces social processes”.

The international conference was successful in highlighting the current status of the legal profession in Palestine and promoting discussions about ongoing challenges and potential initiatives for further improvements of the legal sector. The conference also helped illuminate the political case of Palestine to promote values of democracy, human rights, justice and equality. Finally, while the conference helped strengthen the relationship between partner universities, it also provided an invaluable opportunity for students to be exposed to a broad range of legal subjects and networking opportunities with distinguished national and international members of the legal community.

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