Nottingham expert is part of new Malaysian legal initiative

ICeLLS launch
26 Jul 2011 17:43:51.697

PA 232/11

The government of Malaysia has invited a University of Nottingham legal expert to take part in a major new initiative in the country.

Professor Dirk Van Zyl Smit (pictured - back row, extreme left) is on the executive council of I-CeLLS, the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies, a pioneering project in Malaysia that will address key national and international legal issues.

Among the first projects tackled by I-CeLLS will be a project aimed at reform of the Malaysian criminal justice system and study of the legal reforms needed to deal with climate change and pollution in the region.

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Professor Van Zyl Smit, an expert in Comparative and International Penal Law, is based in the School of Law at The University of Nottingham UK.

I-CeLLS is billed as a platform for experts from various backgrounds and disciplines, including private legal practitioners, academics, government lawyers and policy makers, to interact and address different aspects of key legal issues. A pioneering project in Malaysia, its aim is to go beyond research and training functions available at other existing centres or institutes. It is part of a wider initiative to enable Malaysia to reach the status of a developed nation by 2025.

The project was launched by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pictured above - centre, front row).

Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is the patron of I-CeLLS, said its establishment was an exciting development on the legal front that would bring further cohesion between the different sectors of the legal fraternity.

Speaking at the launch event, the Prime Minister said: “The inception of I-CeLLS shows vision and forward-thinking as it is driven not only by the Attorney-General’s Chambers, but also law academics and private legal practitioners.

“Even more impressively, I-CeLLS has managed to attract international legal experts to work together with their Malaysian legal counterparts in steering I-CeLLS to become a prominent and renowned resource centre for law and legal studies to the nation, region and the world.”

Professor Van Zyl Smit is joined on the executive council of I-CeLLS by the Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge, Professor James Crawford, and Ambassador Chusei Yamada, who has a distinguished career as a diplomat and a lawyer for the government of Japan. Both have served on the United Nations International Law Commission.

Other international experts on the I-CeLLS executive council include highly accomplished public international lawyer Robert Volterra, Malaysian Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, prominent lawyer and arbitrator Tan Sri Cecil Abraham and a senior professor of law at Universiti Teknologi MARA, Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

Professor Van Zyl Smit said: “It is very exciting to be involved in a project that will consider the criminal justice system as whole. This will allow blockages that lead to long delays to be identified. Fixing them will save time and money and better protect individuals against unnecessarily long periods of detention. At the same time the project will address controversial issues, such as the continued use of capital punishment in Malaysia, as a matter of priority.

“I am also impressed by the strong regional emphasis of I-CeLLS. It will provide the basis for legal co-operation with Singapore and other countries in the region.”

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that with the guidance of the esteemed executive council members, he was confident that I-CeLLS would focus on and attend to the most pressing issues and challenges faced by the nation, region and international community.

“Several projects have been chosen by I-CeLLS to jumpstart its activities. This includes the Climate Change Initiative and the Reform of the Criminal Justice System Project,” he said. The Prime Minister said the Climate Change Initiative would focus on developing a legal framework on climate change for the region as well as the international community.

He said the initiative would work towards contributing to and complementing the existing regime at the international level, particularly in the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention negotiations, while being proactive to national needs.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the Reform of the Criminal Justice System Project would study Malaysia's current criminal justice system and make practical recommendations for the overall and comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system based on jurisprudence and the experience of other jurisdictions.

The Prime Minister said that for I-CeLLS to be a renowned and prominent resource centre for law and legal studies domestically and internationally, it must carry out its functions in an objective, professional and neutral manner.

The University of Nottingham made history in the year 2000, building on a strong and longstanding relationship with Malaysia to become the first British university to open a fully operational overseas branch campus.

The 125-acre parkland campus near Kuala Lumpur takes its design cues from University Park, Nottingham — with a signature lakeside building that echoes the UK’s Trent Building. All University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) students study in English, for University of Nottingham degrees that are taught and assessed in the same way as those at Nottingham UK.

The University’s campuses in Asia — it also has a campus in Ningbo, China — and its ambitious internationalisation strategy prompted The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 to describe Nottingham as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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Story credits

More information is available from Professor Dirk Van Zyl Smit, School of Law, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 846 6308,; Professor Christine Ennew, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation, on +44 (0)115 8232483,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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