Finnish expert on constitutional reform

04-01-2015 10:21 PM

Mary Fikry Antoun Milad

The Egyptian public has been treated to a lecture on “Constitutional Reforms and Prospects for the Rule of Law in Egypt” by Pekka Hallberg, President Emeritus of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland who was recently on a short visit to Cairo. The lecture, held at the Egyptian Diplomatic Club in Downtown Cairo, was organised by the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy of the American University in Cairo (AUC) jointly with the Embassy of Finland.
Dr Hallberg is a prominent constitutional expert in Finland. He has counselled several countries on constitutional reform and supporting the rule of law, and the rights and responsibilities of the citizens in dealing with the political institutions. His research has been published in many languages.
In his Cairo lecture, Dr Hallberg made a comparative analysis between the constitutional reform in Egypt’s 2012 and 2014 constitutions, and also discussed the development of constitutional law and the rule of law through legislation. He said that the development of the Egyptian and Finnish constitutions share many similarities; the Finnish Constitution came to life amid political turmoil in 1919 and governed the country for over half a century.
Dr Hallberg was among the experts who participated in drafting the first amendments of the Finnish constitutional law during the 1980s. This was followed by Finland’s gradual reinforcement of the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the drafting of articles related to the rights of individuals. These principles were respected when the Finnish constitutional law was rewritten in 2000.
The second part of Dr Hallberg’s lecture dealt with the principle of rule of law; a principle which he recently worked on promoting in five nations in Central Asia. His book Rule of Law—Prospects for Central Asia, Rural Areas and Human Problems was translated into more than seven languages.
In his research in Central Asia, Dr Hallberg built a model of constitution goals that reflected the problems of people’s daily life, their trust in the State and their security concerns.
Dr Hallberg compared the process of promoting the rule of law to building a house. This comparison is considered an innovative method to examine/assess the quality of the legislations and legislative policies, the balance of powers, the relation between the components of the government, the extent to which the rights and responsibilities of individuals are respected and the principle of rule of law is implemented. In a Constitutional State, the pillars of stability and prosperity are societal capital and societal trust.
Dr Hallberg talked to his Egyptian audience about his work in different countries and the experience that Finland has gained from these interactions. He strongly hopes that “despite the geographical distance between Finland and Egypt, the relationship between the countries can grow in the judicial field.” The Finnish expert explained that “the concept of rule of law has varied definitions in different countries and it is difficult to reach a universal definition. Justice is bound with cultural and societal norms.”

Watani International
23 December 2014

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