The Rt Hon Sir Peter Gross (Formerly, Lead Judge for International Relations) shares his insight into the Judicial and Rule of Law developments in Iraq.
IRAQ 2018-2019: The Rule of Law: a perspective
At the invitation of the President of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq, Chief Justice Dr Faiq Zidan, and supported by the FCDO, I visited Iraq in early 2018 and again in 2019, on each occasion to attend the Iraqi Judiciary Day. The visits embodied the success of peer-to-peer Judicial Engagement.
Short stays can only present snapshots, but these timely visits (as Iraq was emerging from its Ba’thist past under Saddam) symbolised a wider and enduring yearning for the Rule of Law, together with the good governance it underpins. For my part, it entailed a combination of both pride and humility in the honour the visits accorded to the UK Judiciary.
The visits generated mutual benefits. They affirmed the UK as the Iraqi Judiciary’s international partner of choice. On the Iraqi side, they assisted in boosting the position of the Judiciary in Iraqi society, also facilitating increased standing for the Iraqi Judiciary in the region and the integration of the Iraqi Judiciary into the international Judicial community, notably, in SIFoCC (the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts). Furthermore, the visits enhanced the focus on women in the Iraqi Judiciary, benefited the relationship between Bench and Bar in Iraq and promoted improved relations between Judges in Baghdad and Erbil.
Perspective is essential. The Judicial system in Iraq (as elsewhere) faces continued challenges in dealing with terrorism, human rights and corruption. This is a work in progress.
The visits prompt a focus on Judicial and Rule of Law developments and reforms in the region.
In a broader context, the principal need is to institutionalise arrangements for Judicial Engagement of this nature, so that they do not hinge on the individuals in post or office at the time and, on a continuing basis, harness the UK’s world-class reputation in the Rule of Law sphere.
Practised in commercial chambers at 3 Essex Court (now Twenty Essex). Queen’s Counsel 1992. Appointed Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division 2001, Presiding Judge of the South-Eastern Circuit 2005-2008, Judge in Charge of Commercial Court 2009-2010. Appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2010. Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales 2013-2015. Lead Judge for International Relations 2018-2019. Worked extensively internationally, including in the Middle East, on international Judicial relations. On retirement from the Court of Appeal, appointed President of the Slynn Foundation in November 2019, dedicated to advancing the Rule of Law internationally. In 2020, appointed by the Lord Chancellor to chair the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR) examining whether the Human Rights Act 1998 is working effectively. Judicial Commissioner of IPCO. Sir Peter practises as an Arbitrator and is a Judge of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts. Treasurer of Gray’s Inn 2022.