Tantalising us with a taster for what is to come, the ILA Conference’s Welcome Reception skimmed the surface of several themes woven into the conference program. Although it might seem obvious to a crowd of international legal minds, the speakers reminded us of why the international legal community such as that of the ILA is important, and how international law is a fundamental pillar of global harmony, peace and stability.
The Keynote Speaker was the Australian Assistant Minister for Finance, the Hon David Coleman MP, speaking on behalf of the Australian Attorney General, The Hon. Christian Porter MP. The Hon Coleman predicated Australia’s commitment to and the promotion of the rule of law and international law by reference to Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper, the recent successes of the Timor-Leste – Australia conciliation to draw permanent maritime boundaries and defense of its cigarette plain packaging laws to promote health in the WTO. The Hon Coleman highlighted Australia’s tenacity in defending international law, by publicly supporting the findings that Russia should be held accountablefor the downing of MH17. He also drew attention to Australia’s contribution to customary international law, by making public the legal basis in which Australia is involved in the war in Iraq against the Islamic State, and applauded Australia’s achievements towards human rights outcomes via its leadership on the UN Human Rights Council.
The Right Hon Lord Mance, President of the ILA, echoed the sentiment of the Hon Coleman and the Attorney General, According to Lord Mance “International law can’t solve all of the world’s problems, even at the international level, but its imperatives can.”
Sydney Partner at DLA Piper, Gitanjali Bajaj, relished a quote of the distinguished scholar, Başak Çali, who said that international law and crises have a difficult relationship. Many of the long-standing changes in the regulation of international relations were born to respond to crises. Bajaj resounded the message of Cali, “None of us are here wishing for a global crisis to develop. We are here t/o contribute, to study, to work on the clarification and development of international law so that we can work towards building an international rules-based society and system.”
Christopher Ward, ILA President, and Natalie Klein, ILA Vice President, spoke of the importance of the work of organisations like the ILA, to band a community of international lawyers that can spruik and promote the importance of international law within and beyond the realms of our community.
Summary prepared by Madeleine Miller. Madeleine is a policy lawyer and freelance journalist based in Canberra. Her endeavour into journalism is driven by an avid desire to promote international law in mainstream media.