Opening Keynotes Emphasize Rule of Law Challenges, Call to Action
“The question for all of us is: what must we do to lock in adherence to rule of law and international human rights’ standards in all countries as the key to achieving peace and security in the 21st century?” said former President of Ireland Mary Robinson in her opening keynote address at the World Justice Forum on Thursday.
Robinson, along with former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu presented remarks that laid the framework for the beginning of the multinational, multidisciplinary work of the Forum participants.
The World Justice Project, sponsor of the Forum, is based on two premises, said American Bar Association President William H. Neukom. First is that “Justice is the foundation of communities of opportunity and equity,” and second, that a “Multidisciplinary movement is the best means to advance the rule of law.”
Robinson emphasized the importance of furthering the rule of law, citing the problem of terrorism as well as the challenges in Africa in such places as Darfur, Somalia and – most recently – Zimbabwe. But there is hope, she continued, such as the outspokenness of eminent Africans against the violence in Zimbabwe, and the work of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing good governance in Africa.
President Constantinescu surmised that he and President Robinson were invited to the Forum because they “were witnesses, and sometimes actors,” in their own country’s fight to advance the rule of law.
Constantinescu shared his nation’s history through fascism, restoration and subsequent fall of the constitutional monarchy. Constantinescu graphically described Romania’s Communist era – when “freedom was always in question, even when you obeyed the law.” The possibility of being arrested illegally and having evidence planted was always there.
While life has changed, and continues to change in Romania – as it does elsewhere – it is a “long and hard struggle to create institutions and make them work,” continued Constantinescu. It is a struggle not for a year, but for a lifetime, and it is “up to each of us to make the right choice.”