A Lesson in Judicial Selection from Kosovo
Tunheim, John R., Judicature
For the past year, I have had the privilege to work closely with the leaders of Kosovo in drafting a constitution for the world's newest country. It has been a remarkable experience as we have moved through the necessary steps-visioning, researching, negotiating, drafting, and harmonizing of ideas into a founding document that will serve Kosovo for years to come. It is an exceptional covenant, and throughout the process, I often felt that I was the one who was learning what matters in a constitution.
In early April, as I watched Kosovo's founders sign the new constitution and present the document to Kosovo's president in a simple and emotional ceremony, I instinctively thought of the judiciary and the role it will play in developing the rule of law. There was no debate on whether judges should be elected and no debate on whether ruling political parties should have the right to choose judges who share their beliefs. Instead, the questions all involved how to ensure that the most highly qualified individuals are chosen to be judges, and how to keep politics and personal interests out of the consideration, and how to ensure that judges are both independent and accountable.
Judges in Kosovo will be recruited by a fully independent judicial council. Appointments are based on an open process and are to be fully based on merit. The president will appoint judges, but only upon the recommendation of the independent council. Initial appointments are for a probationary term of three years, after which reappointment will be until retirement. …