Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions
Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions
The Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions (AACC) is a regional organization of constitutional justice established in July of 2010 to promote the development of democracy, the rule of law and the fundamental rights and liberties in Asia. It is inherent purpose of the forum to contribute to strengthening the independence of constitutional and human rights adjudication bodies, and therefore to observation of fundamental legal principles and human rights.
The AACC is defined in Article 2 of its Statute as “an autonomous, independent, and non-political body”. The Statute lists its objectives as follows:
- the protection of human rights;
- the guarantee of democracy;
- the implementation of the rule of law;
- the independence of constitutional courts and equivalent institutions;
- the cooperation and exchange of experiences and information among its members.
The Association engages in activities to explore the issues of common interest in the region and to increase cooperation and solidarity by sharing perspectives and best practices. Toward this end, it holds regular meetings among its members, organizes symposia/seminars in order to discuss specific topics of constitutional justice, provides technical assistance and support to its members, and cooperates with other international organizations in the field of human rights and constitutional justice.
The AACC has a total of 18 members. Membership of the Association is open to Asian constitutional courts and equivalent institutions which exercise constitutional jurisdiction (Article 6 of the AACC Statute) (for further information please see below under “Members” Section).
In addition, status of an observer may be granted to supranational courts, constitutional courts, and equivalent institutions by a decision of the Board of Members (BoM) (Article 9 of the AACC Statute) and guests may be also invited by the President of the Association (Article 10 of the AACC Statute) to attend the Congress and Association’s activities such as symposia, workshops and seminars.
The Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan currently carries out the term presidency (2019-2021).
The AACC was initially designed during the 3rd Seminar of Asian Constitutional Court Judges (CACCJ) held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in 2005. Participants of this Seminar agreed on the need to gather Asian constitutional institutions under the umbrella of one organisation. For that purpose, in the 5th CACCJ organised in Seoul, Korea in 2007, the respective institutions of Indonesia, Korea, Mongolia and the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding forming a preparatory committee. The preparatory committee realised four meetings in Seoul, Korea between 2008 and 2010 to finally decide, with the participation of seven countries in 2010, on the statute of the future association and its official formation date.
On the 12th of July 2010, the AACC was officially founded by “the Declaration of Jakarta on the Establishment of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions”. The signatories included the Constitutional/Federal Courts of Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
The Board of Members held a preparatory meeting in May 2011 during of which the Inaugural Congress of 2012 was planned and the membership of the Constitutional Courts of Turkey, Russia, and Tajikistan was approved.
The AACC held its Inaugural Congress on 20-24th of May 2012 in Seoul, Korea under the theme of “The present and the Future of the Constitutional Justice in Asia”. In this very first Congress, the Turkish Constitutional Court has officially acquired the status of membership. The Seoul Declaration was adopted at the end of the Congress, and the Turkish Constitutional Court assumed the term-presidency of the Association.
In the BoM meeting held in Ankara in 2013, the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution of Afghanistan and the Constitutional Court of Kazakhstan were admitted to the Association. The Constitutional Court of Georgia was granted observer status.
The 2nd Congress was held by the Turkish Constitutional Court in Istanbul on 27-30 April 2014. At the Congress, the Indonesian Constitutional Court was elected as the term-president, and the Istanbul Declaration was adopted. The Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan acquired the membership of the Association.
In the 3rd Congress of the AACC held in Bali, Indonesia on the 9th of August 2016, the Statute of the Association was amended to lay the foundation of the Permanent Secretariat of the Association. The Permanent Secretariat is a joint undertaking by the three members of the Association: the Constitutional Court of Turkey, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia, and the Constitutional Court of Korea. Accordingly, the Joint Permanent Secretariat of the Association is composed of “the Centre for Training and Human Resources Development” based in Ankara (Turkey), “the Secretariat for Planning and Coordination” based in Jakarta (Indonesia), and “the Permanent Secretariat for Research and Development” based in Seoul (South Korea).
The amendment also included a provision recognizing Russian as the working language of the Association. Accordingly, the working languages of the Association are English and Russian.
In the BoM Meeting held in Solo, Indonesia in August 2017, the Federal Court of Malaysia was elected as the term-president of the Association.
In the BoM Meeting in November in Bali, Indonesia, the Constitutional Court of Kazakhstan took over the term-presidency. The Supreme Court of India and the Supreme Court of Maldives joined the Association on this occasion.
The 4th Congress of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions was held via video conference for the first time due to the precautions of Covid-19 pandemic.
President of the Turkish Constitutional Court Zühtü Arslan, Secretary General Mr. Murat Şen and Deputy Secretary General Dr. Mücahit Aydın participated in the Congress organized between 26 – 28 August 2020 under the auspices of the Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan in its capacity of the Term-President of the AACC.
During the Board of Members Meeting (BoM), Secretary General of the Constitutional Court Mr. Murat Şen presented the activity report of the Center for Training and Human Resources of the AACC. Mr. Şen gave detailed information about the Summer Schools organized by the Turkish Constitutional Court and emphasized the importance of the Summer School programs which have been organized since 2013 with growing interest from the members as well as guest institutions.
The symposium to be held in Kazakhstan next year was discussed as an item of the agenda of BoM Meeting. Upon the proposal of the President of the Turkish Constitutional Court Zühtü Arslan, “Internet and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” was accepted as a theme of the symposium.
The academic program was held under the title off “The XXI century Constitution- the Rule of Law, the Value of Person and the Effectiveness of State”. The Congress was divided to three sessions. The first session was titled “Constitution and the Rule of Law: Challenges and Ways of Solutions.” The second session was titled “Protection of Constitutional Human Rights and Democratic Values in the Digital Transformation Era.” The third session was entitled “Constitutional Principles of Modernization of a Modern and Efficient State”. At this session, Deputy Secretary General Dr. Mücahit Aydın intervened regarding the case-law of the Turkish Constitutional Court with regard to the e-hearings conducted via digital technology.
At the 4th Congress, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh became the 19th member of the Association. The 4th Congress of the AACC came to an end with the adoption of the joint Declaration. (for the declaration)
Term-Presidency of the Turkish Constitutional Court
In the Inaugural Congress held in 2012 in Seoul, the Turkish Constitutional Court assumed the term-presidency of the Association for a period of two years, from 2012 to 2014.
Under the term-presidency of the Turkish Constitutional Court, the Board of Members Meeting was held in Ankara in 2013. In this meeting, the Board approved the membership application of the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution of Afghanistan and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In addition, the Constitutional Court of Georgia was granted observer status.
In that BoM Meeting, the Turkish Constitutional Court proposed that an academic event addressing mid-level judges or legal staff be organized on a yearly basis under the activities of the Association to share views and experiences on the legal framework and practice on human rights and constitutional justice. Such a continuous event would also serve to advance existing ties between the member institutions.
In this framework, the Turkish Constitutional Court held the 1st Summer School in Ankara on the “Principle of Equality and Prohibition of Discrimination” between 6-13 October 2013. In addition to the European Court of Human Rights, all member institutions were represented in this very first event, and presentations made by participants were collected in a book under the title of “Constitutional Justice in Asia”. Since then, the Turkish Constitutional Court holds Summer School every year with growing interest from member as well as guest institutions.
The Turkish Constitutional Court held the 2nd Congress in Istanbul, Turkey on 27-30 April 2014. At the BoM meeting held right before the Congress, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan was admitted to the Association unanimously. A resolution was also made at the meeting to hold Summer Schools on a yearly and regular basis under the patronage of the Turkish Constitutional Court.
The academic program of the Congress was divided into 4 sessions with different themes: the “Protection of Human Rights by Constitutional Courts”, “Relations between Constitutional/Supreme Courts and the Parliament”, “Methods of Interpretation in Constitutional Justice” and the “Role of Constitutional and Supreme Courts in the Protection of Constitutional Order”. Around 200 participants comprising of the presidents, justices, and staff members of Constitutional and Supreme Courts of 23 countries, as well as international bodies and associations, including the Venice Commission of the European Council, the Conference of European Constitutional Courts, and the Conference on Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa attended the 2nd Congress. It set a fruitful platform of international cooperation and collaboration in the field of constitutional justice. The Congress was ended with the adoption of Istanbul Declaration.
With this Congress, the Turkish Constitutional Court successfully completed its term-presidency, and the Indonesian Constitutional Court was elected to carry the flag of the Association for the following term.
The Joint Permanent Secretariat of the Association is composed of a Centre for Training and Human Resources Development based in Ankara (Turkey), a Permanent Secretariat for Planning and Coordination (PSPC) based in Jakarta (Indonesia) and a Permanent Secretariat for Research and Development (PSRD) based in Seoul (South Korea).
i) The Permanent Secretariat for Planning and Coordination (PSPC) managed by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia is responsible for:
- Rendering protocol and administrative support to the Association and its Members,
- Encouraging and giving support to the Association in the conduct of relations with international organizations and forums, and other external parties,
- Coordinating activities for the development of human resources, the exchange of human resources, scholarships and internships, excluding activities of the Centre for Training and Human Resource Development,
- Planning and coordinating financial matters concerning the activities of the Association.
ii) The Permanent Secretariat for Research and Development (PSRD), under the administration of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea, is responsible for conducting works in comparative constitutional law, especially focusing on the role of constitutional adjudicatory bodies. It fulfils this function by:
- Planning, conducting and coordinating joint research activities among members and with third parties,
- Conducting studies and formulation of proposals for research activities in the sphere of constitutional justice,
- Publishing an international journal on the outcome of the research activities conducted,
- Constructing and managing a database of profiles and key decisions of Members,
- Conducting research and development activities for the promotion of constitutionalism,
- Organizing international conferences, seminars and forums at Justice/Judge level and researcher level on the chosen themes.
iii) The Centre for Training and Human Resources Development (CTHRD) is undertaken by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Turkey. CTHRD is in charge of:
- Conducting training programs, including Summer School, workshops and similar programs within the framework of the Association,
- Providing educational materials to the staff of the participating Members,
- Coordinating the participation of expert staff of the Members in training activities organized by the Centre.
The Turkish Constitutional Court organizes Summer School events on a yearly basis with the aim to address mid-level judges or jurists, assistant judges, legal experts, advisors or legal staff serving at Constitutional Courts/Institutions. The working languages of the program are English and Russian, in accordance with the official languages of the AACC. The First Summer School was held in 2013. Since then it has continued on a regular basis:
- the 1st Summer School on the “Principle of Equality and Prohibition of Discrimination”, 6-13 October 2013, Ankara (for further details),
- the 2nd Summer School on the “Principles of Fair Trial”, 24 August-3 September 2014, Ankara (for further details),
- the 3rd Summer School on the “Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Organization”, 30 August-9 September 2015, Ankara (for further details),
- the 4th Summer School on the “Respect for Private and Family Life”, 2-9 October 2016, Ankara (for further details),
- the 5th Summer School on the “Migration and Refugee Law”, 17-24 September 2017, Ankara (for further details),
- the 6th Summer School on the “Right to Liberty and Security”, 17-22 September 2018, Ankara (for further details),
- the 7th Summer School on the “Presumption of Innocence”, 8-14 September 2019, Ankara (for further details),
- the 8th Summer School on the “Restriction of Human Rights and Freedoms in Health Emergencies: The Example of Covid-19” , Online 7 – 8 September 2020, Ankara (for further details).
The 19 member institutions and membership dates are as follows:
- Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia, 2010 (permanent secretariat)
- Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea, 2010 (permanent secretariat)
- Constitutional Court of the Republic of Turkey, 2012 (permanent secretariat)
- Supreme Court of the Philippines, 2010
- Federal Court of Malaysia, 2010
- Constitutional Court of Mongolia, 2010
- Constitutional Court of the Kingdom of Thailand, 2010
- Constitutional Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 2010
- Supreme Court of Pakistan, 2012
- Constitutional Court of Russian Federation, 2012
- Constitutional Court of the Republic of Tajikistan, 2012
- Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, 2013
- Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2013
- Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan Republic, 2014
- Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic, 2015
- Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, 2016
- Supreme Court of India, 2019
- Supreme Court of the Maldives, 2019
- Supreme Court of Bangladesh, 2020