Four distinguished women judges from the Middle East and North Africa—including the first female judge in Jordanian history—will visit the Indiana University Bloomington campus Sept. 25-26 for a conference titled “Women Judges in Dialogue,” where they will discuss their own experience as women in the judiciary as well as issues surrounding constitutional adjudication in the region. They will be joined by faculty from the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and the Maurer School of Law.
Sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Middle East (CSME) at HLS and the Center for Constitutional Democracy (CCD) at the Law School, the judges will also participate in a panel discussion, “Her Excellency: A Conversation with Women Judges From the Constitutional Courts in the MENA Region,” on Monday, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the DeLaney Moot Court Room. Christiana Ochoa, dean of the Maurer School of Law, will moderate the discussion, which is open to the public.
Feisal al-Istrabadi (Founding Director of CSME, Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Professor in Global Strategic Studies and Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at HLS) noted, “These annual symposia are a testament to the intellectual environment fostered at IU Bloomington. There had been a prior relationship between the CCD and the Jordanian Constitutional Court. The partnership between CSME and CCD, in turn, allowed the expansion of that relationship to what it has now become—an annual symposium which is now in its third year, and which has expanded to include other new constitutional courts in the Middle East and North Africa. I cannot imagine another university in the country that could have matched the engagement of the Maurer School faculty and students with the depth of area-studies expertise of the Hamilton Lugar faculty and students to produce this truly historic first—four of the eight women members of constitutional courts in MENA meeting in Bloomington—for any other US university.”
The CCD has a longstanding relationship with the Constitutional Court of Jordan, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law and CCD Director Susan Williams said, having worked with the court for the past five years on programs and workshops exploring issues of interest to the judges on the court. The organizers hope that this conference will serve as the next step in building a network among women judges in the wider MENA region (together with legal academics) for the purpose of sharing knowledge, experience, and support.
“In recent years, partly in response to the Arab Spring, a number of countries in the Middle East/North Africa region have created new courts to handle constitutional claims,” said Williams. “At the same time, women judges have been gaining recognition and acceptance in these systems. As a result, there are, for the first time, women judges on many of the highest courts in the region. We’re looking forward to bringing four of these judges together for a conversation about their experiences as women on these courts.”
Scheduled participants include:
- Her Excellency Judge Mireille Najm is a member of the Constitutional Council of Lebanon since November 2021. She also teaches Constitutional law at the Faculty of Law of the Saint-Joseph University in Beirut.
- Her Excellency Judge Taghrid Hikmet has been a member of the Constitutional Court of Jordan since October 2020. She became the first female judge in the history of Jordan after being appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1998. In 2003 she was elected by the UN General Assembly to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served from 2003 to 2011 as the first Arab female judge.
- Her Excellency Judge Maysa Bydoon has been a member of the Constitutional Court of Jordan since June 2022. She is also a Professor of International Law at the School of Law – University of Jordan. Before that, she taught at Al al-Bayt University, where she served as the Dean of the Law School from 2013-2020. Judge Bydoon has served on various governmental and royal committees in Jordan, including most recently the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System (2021) and the Royal Secondary Committee for Constitutional Amendments (2021).
- Her Excellency Judge Latifa El Khal has served in the Constitutional Court of Morocco since March 2020. Judge El-Khal’s long judicial career started in 1983. Before joining the Constitutional Court, she served as president of the Administrative Court of Appeals in Marrakesh, to which she was appointed in 2011. In 2018, she published a monograph on the responsibilities of states for reparations regarding acts of terrorism.
“This event shows the effect that federal Title VI funds can have for our programs,” Istrabadi said. “It allows programming at the Hamilton Lugar School to connect directly with other schools throughout the university in ways that would be almost impossible without that funding. It is a part of what makes IUB unique.”