Clinton, Graham, Supreme Court Justices to Highlight International Gathering on Rule of Law
WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 1, 2005 — Three U.S. Supreme Court justices and U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham will join international jurists and other dignitaries at a symposium to discuss ways to promote the rule of law globally, a goal considered critical in the battles against terrorism, health pandemics and poverty.
The International Rule of Law Symposium will be convened by the American Bar Association on Nov. 9 and 10 in Washington, D.C. Titled “Advancing the Rule of Law to Solve Global Problems,” it will bring together leaders from around the world in business, government, nongovernmental organizations and academia.
“Advancement of the rule of law is one of the most significant issues of our time, because its absence anywhere in the world poses a direct and immediate risk to us all,” said ABA President Michael S. Greco. “The significance is underscored by the caliber of world leaders who have chosen to address this conference.”
Promoting the rule of law has been part of international development efforts since the 1970s, but it has grown since the early 1990s, when the political transition in Eastern Europe created significant legal reform challenges. Non-governmental groups, including the ABA, helped former Soviet-bloc states rewrite their laws and constitutions, train judges and lawyers, and strengthen their legal institutions.
Greco cited rule of law successes of the past 15 years, including an independent judiciary’s oversight of free and fair elections in the former Soviet countries, the Republic of Georgia and Ukraine, just one result of international efforts to support independent legal professions and judiciaries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
About 400 rule-of-law leaders are expected to attend the invitation-only event. Greco and symposium organizers said they hope the gathering will enable rule-of-law groups to work more closely together. They also hope to gain greater support for advancement of the rule of law globally from the business community, which depends on stable and fair systems of law before investing in countries abroad, and from Western governments.
In addition to Sens. Clinton and Graham, the gathering will be addressed by Andrew S. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, which funds efforts to build rule of law and democracy in other nations. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Stephen G. Breyer and Anthony M. Kennedy will hold a dialogue on the significance of promoting stable, lawful legal systems abroad. Other panels will cover specific issues, including the rule of law and terrorism, pandemics, corruption, poverty and business development.
“Nations cannot truly be free, or enjoy solid economic development, until they are governed by a stable, predictable and fair set of laws,” Greco said. “Promoting the rule of law is a huge task, bigger than can be accomplished by any one organization, or even any one government. The nations of the world simply have no choice but to work together.”
Participants will include: Hilario G. Davide Jr., Chief Justice of the Philippines; Ashraf Ghani, a former Finance Minister of Afghanistan; David Byrne, special envoy for the World Health Organization and former European Commissioner; Monica Macovei, Minister of Justice of Romania; Daniel Lipsic, Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia; Roberto Danino, general counsel of the World Bank and former Prime Minister of Peru; Juan E. Mendez, special UN adviser for genocide prevention; Joy Ezeilo, executive director of the Women’s Aid Collective in Nigeria; Thomas Gottschalk, general counsel of General Motors Corporation; Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation; John Bohn, chairman of the Center for International Private Enterprise; and John Bellinger, legal adviser at the U.S. State Department.
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.