Building Strong Institutions
USAID Justice for All Project
(East-West Management Institute)
In 2016, Albania passed sweeping constitutional and legislative reforms designed to strengthen the integrity and governance of their judiciary. This included the establishment of new institutions such as the High Judicial Council (HJC)—the apex body of Albania’s judiciary—which was established late in 2018.
After a wide range of engagements in Albania over the years, Common Ground was brought in by the Justice for All (JFA) Project to work closely with the HJC to build high-trust relationships between their members and assist them in designing a process that would lead to their first strategic plan, including developing their mission and vision statements (which you can read below on the left). With dozens of legally-required elements, the Council’s strategic plan was one of the most complex we’ve helped a government entity to develop.
As a separate element of our work with Justice for All, Common Ground also assisted Albania’s newly independent fact-checking NGO—Faktoje—to develop their first strategic plan as an independent NGO. Faktoje was established as a component of the project several years ago.
Justice in Albania will be achieved when all citizens are confident they will be treated fairly and equally under the law by a judicial system that is independent, ethical, and efficient.
The mission of the HJC is to build, lead, and govern a high-performing judiciary that demands excellence and is deserving of public trust.
Working through our long-time partner, the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) we lead the High Judicial Council through a carefully-constructed strategic planning process, which included developing their mission, vision, values, strategic goals, and objectives. We also drafted their operational plan, helped secure support from the Minister of Justice, and conducted 360 assessments of the Council’s leadership. Our team even designed the Council’s new high-profile logo (check it out at the top of the page)!
In developing the plan, Common Ground designed an efficient process that would result in a practical, hands-on strategy that has the support of the Council and a wide range of stakeholders, including chief judges, civil society, and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Moreover, the plan fully aligns with the Cross-Sector Justice Strategy (CSJS), European Union donor priorities, and the laws of Albania.
In 2020, our work will continue with five visits to Albania in which an even more consultative strategic planning process will occur as one important final deliverable before the JFA Project comes to an end and USAID prepares to leave Albania. We will also be expanding the 360 degree review process to more members of the Council, providing leadership coaching, and helping plan a study tour for members of the Council in Kosovo.
The Justice for All Project is also currently providing support to university journalism students with a goal of increasing transparency, combating corruption, and supporting citizen journalists. Last year, the project facilitated the production and publishing of the book, Beyond Fences, in which 12 journalists published their unique Albanian cultural stories.
Building on the success of the book and other Justice for All campaigns, we have developed a new program in partnership with our friends at Rana Labs to train journalism students from two regional Albanian universities in mobile reporting and filmmaking techniques. The hands-on approach used by Rana’s team will enable them to produce professional-grade short documentary films, news, podcasts and radio segments, and other multimedia projects.
There is no reason to accept the doctrines crafted to sustain power and privilege, or to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social laws. These are simply decisions made within institutions that are subject to human will and that must face the test of legitimacy. And if they do not meet the test, they can be replaced by other institutions that are more free and more just, as has happened often in the past.