Conference of European Constitutional Courts
The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina became a member of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts at the Preparatory Meeting of the 12th Congress of European Constitutional Courts, which was held in Brussels in 2000.
The Constitutional Courts of the Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of Austria, Italian Republic and former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia initiated the creation of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts. The first Conference of European Constitutional Courts was held in Dubrovnik in 1972. The topic of the conference was “Jurisdiction of the Constitutional Courts and Legal Effects of their Decisions”. The aim of the initiative was the creation of a framework for the exchange of experience in the constitutional case-law in the general European context, with a due respect for the principle of the judicial independence. The number of members of the Conference has grown since then. Today the Conference has 41 full members, European constitutional courts and other high courts dealing with the matters of constitutional law. The increase in the number of members imposed the need to develop a formal legal framework within which the Conference operated. This was the reason why a Statute was adopted at the Congress held in Warsaw in 1999, and the Regulations of the Conference were adopted at the Congress held in Brussels three years later.
Article 3 of the Statute determines the objectives of the Conference: “The Conference shall promote the exchange of information on the working methods and constitutional case-law of member courts together with the exchange of opinions on institutional, structural and operational issues as regards public-law and constitutional jurisdiction. In addition, it shall take steps to enhance the independence of constitutional courts as an essential factor in guaranteeing and implementing democracy and the rule of law, in particular with a view to securing the protection of human rights. It shall support efforts to maintain regular contacts between the European Constitutional Courts and similar institutions.”
According to the Statute, the organs of the Conference are: 1. the Circle of Presidents, as the central decision-making body, is composed of the Presidents of the Courts and the institutions with full member status, and 2. the Congress, held once every three years, at which full members, associate members and observers are entitled to participate. The President of the Court which is to host the next Congress shall preside over the Conference and Circle of Presidents. The Secretariat of the Conference shall be provided by the same Court.
World Conference on Constitutional Justice
The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a full member of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice since January 2013.
The Venice Commission initiated the creation of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice with the aim of gathering constitutional courts and other highest courts worldwide dealing with constitutional law. The Venice Commission provided its support in drafting the Statute of the Conference. The Statute entered into force on 24 September 2011 and has provided continuous support to the work of the Conference and organisation of the Congress of the Conference.
The Conference unites 117 members, constitutional courts, constitutional councils and supreme courts in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia/Oceania and Europe. It promotes constitutional justice as a key element for democracy, the protection of human rights and the rule of law. The World Conference pursues its objectives through the organisation of regular congresses, by participating in regional conferences and seminars, by sharing experiences and case-law and by offering good services to members on their request (Article 1 of the Statute).
According to Statute, the World Conference has three organs, namely the General Assembly, the Bureau and the Secretariat. The General Assembly is chaired by the Host Court of the Congress. The Presidency of the Bureau is ensured for one year by rotation between the groups. The Venice Commission acts as the Secretariat of the World Conference.
The Conference held four Congresses so far:
- 24-26 January 2009, Cape Town, South Africa, on the topic of ”Influential Constitutional Justice – its influence on society and on developing a global jurisprudence on human rights“.
- 16-18 January 2011, Rio de Janeiro, Federative Republic of Brazil, on the topic of „Separation of Powers and Independence of Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Bodies“.
- 28 September-1 October 2014, Seoul, Republic of Korea, on the topic of „Constitutional Justice and Social Integration“
- 11-14 September 2017, Vilnius, Republic of Lithuania, on the topic of „The Rule of Law and Constitutional Justice in Modern World“.
European Commission for Democracy through Law
The cooperation of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Commission for Democracy through Law – Venice Commission - started in 1997. It has been intensified since 2002 when Bosnia and Herzegovina became a member of the Council of Europe and acceded to the 1990 Partial Agreement Establishing the European Commission for Democracy through Law.
The European Commission for Democracy through – better known as the Venice Commission – is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters. The role of the Venice Commission is to provide legal advice to its member states and, in particular, to help states wishing to bring their legal and institutional structures into line with European standards and international experience in the fields of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It also helps to ensure the dissemination and consolidation of a common constitutional heritage, playing a unique role in conflict management, and provides “emergency constitutional aid” to states in transition. The Commission works in three areas: democratic institutions and fundamental rights; constitutional justice and ordinary justice; elections, referendums and political parties.
The Commission has 62 member states: the 47 Council of Europe member states and 15 other countries. The European Commission and OSCE participate at the plenary session. The seat of the Commission is located in Strasbourg, France. Its plenary sessions are held in Venice, Italy four times a year.
President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zlatko M. Knežević is a member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The former Judge and Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prof. Dr. Ćazim Sadiković was also a member of the Venice Commission at an earlier point of time.
The cooperation with the Venice Commission takes place via liaison officers, i.e. authorized representative of the Court who is responsible for fulfilling the the Court’s obligations towards the Commission, responding to the requests of the authorized representatives of other member countries for information about the legal framework and case-law, submitting the decisions of the Court for the database of court decisions or the Bulletin of the Venice Commission, etc.