Egypt - annual report 2019

Conference “Promotion of women in the judiciary“: Egyptian delegation headed by Vice Minister Suzan Fahmy (5th from the right) during the visit to the German Bundestag in Berlin
Conference “Promotion of women in the judiciary“: Egyptian delegation headed by Vice Minister Suzan Fahmy (5th from the right) during the visit to the German Bundestag in Berlin

Strategic framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

As the most populous country in the Arab world and due to its geographical location, Egypt plays an important role in the security and economy of the region and mediates, for example, between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East conflict. But the legal and political situation in Egypt has worsened in recent years. For instance, there have been some constitutional amendments that contradict the principle of separation of powers. A constitutional referendum was held in April 2019, in which the President‘s term of office was extended from four to six years. Moreover, a clause was adopted for the current President al-Sisi, entitling him to remain in office until 2030.

The military was also given greater powers, and the position of the President towards the legislature and the judiciary was strengthened. The Supreme Council for Judicial Bodies and Agencies (SCJB) was established in this regard, with authority over various judicial authorities (including the ordinary court system, the administrative court system, the Office of the Judiciary, the Public Prosecutor‘s Office and the Supreme Constitutional Court). The President is in overall command of the SCJB, so extensive powers for appointments to the most senior positions in the judiciary have been transferred to the executive, which significantly undermines the independence of the judiciary.

The new constitution established a minimum quota for women in the House of Representatives with regard to the political participation of women in Egypt. Under the new constitutional amendment, the House of Representatives is composed of no fewer than 450 members, with at least a quarter of the total number of seats being reserved for women.

Overall Concept

The setbacks in the development of the rule of law led to the suspension of cooperation between Egypt and IRZ in 2015. Among other things, IRZ used the reporting year to hold talks at working level with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice on continuing the cooperation. Within this framework, the topic of “Effective protection of women in and through justice“ was considered suitable for a resumption of cooperation.

Increased support for organisations within civil society will be provided on this topic, in addition to cooperation with state institutions. In 2019, IRZ therefore cooperated with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice and the National Council for Women (NCW) to organise events on the topics of “Promotion of women in the judiciary“ and “Protection of women by the judiciary“. They were financed by project support from the Federal Foreign Office. The participants discussed with IRZ various legal mechanisms for promoting women in legal professions (e.g. quotas, women‘s representatives, professional development opportunities) and exchanged experiences in this regard. They also explored opportunities and mechanisms to offer women preventative and effective protection against violence.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Conference in Cairo and delegation trip to Berlin on the topic “Promotion of women in the judiciary“
  • Conference in Cairo and delegation trip to Berlin on the topic “Protection of women by the judiciary“

Project funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: Supporting and upgrading the institutional, technical and raising awareness capabilities of the Egyptian Patent Office (EGYPO)

In late summer 2019, IRZ – as the junior partner to the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office as lead partner – and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office as additional junior partner were awarded the contract for the EU Twinning Project EGYPO. Equipped with a budget of €1.5 million, the aim of this two-year project is to improve the technical and institutional capacity of the Egyptian Patent Office in order to increase the number of patent applications and strengthen the protection of intellectual property in Egypt. The project will also help to build networks between the academic community and small and medium-sized enterprises and to adapt procedures to EU standards. IRZ will probably devote particular attention to the area of further training of patent examiners and the workflows within the Egyptian Patent Office. The project is scheduled to start at the beginning of 2020.


Depending on the political situation and developments in Egypt, IRZ plans to expand cooperation with civil society organisations on issues relevant to basic and human rights. In addition, basic training for mediators will continue in cooperation with the judiciary and will be placed on a broader footing. Overall, further cooperation will depend on whether and to what extent it will be possible to support development of the rule of law. IRZ will therefore continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and, depending on the findings, coordinate future measures with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Federal Foreign Office.