During the two-day meeting, which took place at the Library of Congress in the Lawrence Quincy Mumford Room, representatives from 24 jurisdictions, including the United States, shared their experiences and discussed some of the challenges related to the legal systems and the legal information needs of their countries.
Our colleague Dan Chiriţă, Adjunct Director of the Directorate for Information and Communication, Chamber of Deputies, spoke about the intricacies and demands of becoming a member country of the European Union, from the vantage point of Romania. A great deal of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is needed to keep pace with all the EU requirements and Mr. Chiriţă, who is also the Chair of the GLIN Technical Committee and quite technically savvy, was able to articulate this information succinctly.
The meeting also included a panel presentation on “Arab Spring: Legal Ramifications.” Panelists included: Judge Adnène Lassoued, a Researcher Judge and President of the research team at Tunisia’s Center of Legal and Judicial Studies in the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; George Sadek, Senior Legal Information Analyst at the Law Library of Congress; and Amira Maaty, Program Officer on the Middle East and North Africa team of the National Endowment for Democracy (speaking in her personal not professional capacity).
Judge Lassoued stated that since January 2011 there has been a revolution against the legal system in Tunisia. Under the pressure of Tunisian citizens, the constitution was abolished and a Constituent Assembly was created. George Sadek outlined some of the precursors leading to the upheaval in Egypt, including an amendment to Article 76 of the Egyptian Constitution that effectively limited the presidential candidacy to former President Mubarak and his son. Amira Maaty spoke about the role of civil society in supporting the changes wrought by the revolutions in the Arab Spring countries. She said that there is likely to be more space for civil society engagement in the reformed states. She also said that the challenges faced by the Arab Spring nations include a backlash against foreign assistance; limited capacity for civil society engagement including the potential for oversaturation; and a wide range of priorities that may fragment action.
Carol Tullo, an attendee from the United Kingdom who is part of the Executive Team at the National Archives where she is the Director of Information Policy — in addition to being the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, the Queen’s Printer of Acts of Parliament, the Queen’s Printer for Scotland, and the Government Printer for Northern Ireland — enthralled us with a fascinating talk on their “Expert Participation Project,” concerning a new technique to rely on third parties for keeping the United Kingdom’s legislation updated. Two major principles govern this process: participation will be open and transparent; and participants will not be paid by the National Archives nor receive any form of preferential treatment. (However, attribution will be given to those who contribute to the process.) If you didn’t get a chance to see the talk via the GLIN webcast, we recommend Carol’s article published in the August 2011 edition of the GLIN Global Journal.
GLIN Directors’ meetings also provide our colleagues at the Law Library of Congress with the added benefit of making important contacts with people who have direct access to the laws that govern other countries—making these connections is a vital resource of information for the sort of legal research and studies in which the Law Library engages.
Near the end of the meeting, David Mao as Chair of the GLIN Executive Council presented awards to recognize the outstanding and special achievements of national and subnational stations. The stars of the show were GLIN.Canada and GLIN.Gabon. GLIN.Canada has maintained the highest standards of GLIN for a while now. Because GLIN.Canada makes its job appear appear so effortless, it was easy to overlook the team; however, this year the Canada station received a GLIN Model Station Award. GLIN.Gabon also received a GLIN Model Station Award for its diligent work toward complying with GLIN’s standards of excellence while meeting the need for widespread dissemination of the law to cover the legal information demands of the people of Gabon. Again, we offer our congratulations to everyone for a job very well done.
Although we always celebrate the successes of our friends, it is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to our friend and esteemed colleague, Li-Min Chang, Director, GLIN.Taiwan as she embarks on a new facet of her career. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.