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Panel on Courts in Crisis Inspires New Project Collaboration  
2 August 2016
How do you maintain the Rule of Law in an emergency or crisis situation and during its aftermath both in the immediate and long term? During the Plenary Session on Saturday May 28th, 2016, six experienced Judges discussed their professional and personal experiences with natural and man-made disasters, lessons learned, and advice for the future. When speaking about disaster-preparedness, courts are not the first institutions that come to mind. Hospitals, food and shelter take the most immediate priority. Nonetheless, within a day or two, courts need to be part of the disaster-preparedness and humanitarian response strategies. The role judges play during times of
crisis is fundamental because the court's leaders set the tone for effective emergency management. As noted by Chief Justice Sushila Karki, "Justice dispensing should be the priority in the situation of crisis, when it is more required than in a normal situation."  

This notion was echoed throughout all of the presentations during the panel. The panelists urged members to check with their courts to see if their plans for dealing with immediate crisis and Continuity Of Operations Plans (C.O.O.P.) are up to date, if their courts have them at all. They also discussed their personal experiences with a variety of different crises: hurricanes in the USA, earthquakes in Nepal and New Zealand, the sinking of a ferry boat in Korea, and the mall shooting in Kenya. 

IAWJ members and staff were so incredibly moved by this panel, that they began working on a plan of action. From these conversations, IAWJ has created a proposal to create the next generation of judicial leaders on these issues of crisis. IAWJ is looking to bring together a core team of experts from judiciaries that have been affected by crisis who could develop a set of core curriculum modules for judicial training centers. These trainings would then allow judges around the world to be better prepared when crisis hits. IAWJ is currently refining this proposal and taking it to potential donors; we will keep you updated on the progress of this project.