ROME – 24 March 2011 – The United States of America (USA) yesterday assumed the Presidency and the State of Kuwait assumed the Vice Presidency of the International Development Law Organization's (IDLO) Assembly of Parties. Upon accepting this new leadership role, the United States presided over an extraordinary session convened yesterday when the Organization's 23 Members met at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, Italy. As the Organization's host country, the Government of Italy remains the Assembly of Parties ex-officio Vice President.
As one of IDLO's founding nations, the United States of America served as a signatory on IDLO's 1988 Organization Establishment agreement. Since then, the USA's commitment to the organization has not just included financial investments but also the sponsorship of judicial sector world-wide technical assistance, legal training, and evaluation programs.
In 2009, the United States provided IDLO with the funding which enabled the Kenya Committee of Experts preparation and drafting of a proposed new Constitution. On 4 August 2010, an overwhelming majority of Kenyans (67%) approved this new Constitution. Additionally in 2010, in the southern Sudan region, the United States provided support for judicial sector substantive law training. Now, this judicial capacity building work will continue through 2011 in the newly established independent country of South Sudan.
This year, the USA invested, through IDLO, in the launch of a new, Afghanistan country-wide program. IDLO, through this two-year program will drive to improve the awareness, investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against women; expand and improve legal aid services for the poor and disempowered; and inform Afghan citizens of key legal issues, rights and services.
United States Ambassador Ertharin Cousin thanked the Kingdom of the Netherlands for their leadership over the last three years as President of the Assembly of Parties, as well as Burkina Faso and Colombia for their key roles as members of the Standing Committee, "It is an honor to serve in this role and follow in the footsteps of other member states who have dedicated so much to this organization. Not only do we follow the Netherlands, but also France, Austria and other past Presidents who have demonstrated their dedication to IDLO through service on this governing body”. She further stated, “I believe I speak for all the members of the Standing Committee when I say, we look forward to working with every member party while engaging with the IDLO staff to identify beneficial initiatives; that together, with the requisite resources will maximize the enormous potential of this organization".
The State of Kuwait's support of IDLO also dates back to the very creation of the Organization. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development was the first donor who provided seed money to IDLO's Endowment Fund. Since then, Kuwait has demonstrated an enduring interest in IDLO's programs both through financial support, including partnering with the Organization on activities in the Middle East, and by sponsoring over 850 participants from throughout the developing world to attend IDLO training courses. The State of Kuwait became IDLO's twenty- third Member Party in October 2010.
Mr. Nawaf A. Al-Mahamel, representative of the State of Kuwait, echoed Ambassador Cousin's thanks to the Kingdom of Netherlands and Burkina Faso for their leadership over the last term. He then emphasized the commitment of the State of Kuwait to provide its full support to IDLO to continue providing rule of law assistance.