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The World Conference on Constitutional Justice

The Constitutional Court was one of the initiators of the establishment of  the World Conference on Constitutional Justice (WCCJ)—the organisation uniting institutions of constitutional review from all over the world, and it is still a member of the Bureau of the WCCJ. At present, the WCCJ unites 100 constitutional justice institutions from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe.

The objective of this organisation, organized under the initiative of the Venice Commission, is to promote constitutional justice as a key element for democracy, the protection of human rights, and the rule of law. In pursuit of this objective, the WCCJ organises congresses aimed at gathering different organisations uniting constitutional justice institutions and founded on a regional and linguistic basis: Union of Arab Constitutional Courts and Councils, Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa, Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institution, Commonwealth Courts, Conference of European Constitutional Courts, Ibero-American Conference of Constitutional Justice, Association of Constitutional Courts using the French Language, Southern African Chief Justices Forum, Conference of Constitutional Control Organs of Countries of New Democracy, and Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of the Portuguese-Speaking Countries.

It was during the XIVth Congress of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts, which took place in Vilnius on 3–6 June 2008, that the idea to establish the WCCJ was raised. Being one of the initiators of the establishment of the WCCJ, the Constitutional Court of Lithuania was elected as a member of the preparatory Bureau (an institution entrusted with the organisation of the 1st Congress of the WCCJ) of the WCCJ. The Constitutional Court has been a member of the Bureau of the WCCJ without interruption so far. At present, the WCCJ unites 95 constitutional justice institutions of various states from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. The Venice Commission discharges the function of the Secretariat of the WCCJ.

The participants of the 3rd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice, which took place in the Republic of Korea in 2014.
The photo by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea

The 1st Congress of the WCCJ that took place in Cape Town (the Republic of South Africa) coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was organized by the Constitutional Court of South Africa in co-operation with the Venice Commision. This Congress was attended by participants from more than 90 constitutional justice institutions  and nine organisations operating on regional or linguistic grounds. Its topic was “Influential Constitutional Justice—its Influence on Society and on Developing a Global Jurisprudence on Human Rights.” In the declaration adopted during the Congress, it was noted that constitutional justice is a key element in fostering the basic values enshrined in the Constitutions that form the basis of the work of the constitutional courts. It is emphasised that while constitutions differ, the basic principles underlying them, in particular the protection of human rights and human dignity and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, form a common ground. The participants of the Congress underlined the paramount importance of the respect for human rights and freedoms in all parts of the World and insisted that governments must implement international human rights instruments. During this Congress, President of the Constitutional Court Kęstutis Lapinskas delivered the national report “Some Aspects of the Influence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania on Society”.

The 2nd Congress of the WCCJ took place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 2011. It was organized by the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil in co-operation with the Venice Commision. It discussed the topic “Separation of Powers and Independence of Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Bodies”. The representatives from 88 constitutional justice institutions and 10 regional and linguistic groups from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe participated in this Congress. They discussed the issues related to the independence of constitutional courts from the legislative and executive powers, as well as from the media. President of the Constitutional Court Kęstutis Lapinskas and Justice of the Constitutional Court Armanas Abramavičius took part in this Congress. The national report “The Principle of Separation of Powers and Independence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania” was submitted to the Congress.

The 3rd Congress of the WCCJ was held in Seoul (South Korea) in 2014. It was organized by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea in co-operation with the Venice Commision. This Congress was attended by representatives from more than 90 constitutional justice institutions and ten organisations operating on a regional or linguistic basis. The Congress dealt with the topic “Constitutional Justice and Social Integration” in the following sub-topics: challenges of social integration in a globalised world, international standards for social integration, constitutional instruments enhancing/dealing with/for social integration, and the role of constitutional justice in social integration. President of the Constitutional Court Dainius Žalimas and Justice of the Constitutional Court Gediminas Mesonis took part in the Congress. The Constitutional Court delivered its national report “The Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania in the Face of the Challenges Brought About by Social Integration”. Additionally, the Congress addressed the issues and tendencies concerning the defence of the independence of constitutional courts (or equivalent institutions).

The 4th Congress of the WCCJ will be hosted in Vilnius in 2017. It will be the first congress of this organisation in Europe. It is symbolic that such a high-level global event will take place in Lithuania in 2017, when the state will mark the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. The participants will be invited to discuss issues related to the rule of law and constitutional justice in the contemporary world.  For more information on the 4th Congress of the WCCJ to be held in Vilnius, visit http://www.wccj2017.lt/.