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Senior officials report “good progress” ahead of 2019 law ministers’ meeting

5 October 2018

Senior officials from law ministries across the Commonwealth welcomed innovative projects by the Secretariat to promote the rule of law and justice reform, following through on mandates given by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting earlier this year.

At the conclusion of the Commonwealth Senior Officials of Law Ministries meeting on 3 October, delegates agreed on the core topics to feature at the next gathering of Commonwealth law ministers in 2019.

They also appreciated the instruments that are being developed by the Secretariat, including a toolkit on climate change and law and a package of anti-corruption benchmarks to be finalised after consultations with stakeholders. Ongoing initiatives are also addressing cybercrime and cybersecurity by fostering collaboration between member countries.     

“We have had really useful discussions about things that are fundamentally important across the Commonwealth like judicial diversity,” said David Meyer, Head of International at the UK Ministry of Justice, who chaired the meeting. “Ultimately the Commonwealth is bound together by a common thread, a key element of which is rule of law.”

“We are really on a good track - there are some excellent pieces of work through development for the forthcoming ministerial meeting next year,” he added.

Over the course of three days, the meeting looked at issues including how government ministries can work together to reduce the number of vulnerable persons in the justice system and how to better-coordinate efforts to tackle transnational crimes.  Senior officials noted the fast-moving pace of modern technologies and innovation in the legal field, often referred to as ‘LawTech’, and requested the Secretariat to produce a paper on the issue for the upcoming law ministers meeting.

In addition, senior officials explored innovative but cost-effective ways for the Secretariat to continue meeting the demand for technical assistance, such as using pro-bono experts.

Mr. Meyer concluded: “We have been able to initiate a number of new areas of work on issues such as ‘Law-Tech,’ access to justice, and commercial arbitration where I think hopefully we have got everything set for a good discussion amongst ministers in 2019.”