Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: no better time to stand up for human rights
22 March 2018
Paola Fudakowska, President of AIJA’s Private Clients Commission and Candidate for the role of AIJA’s First Vice-President shares some reflections from the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council taking place from 26 February to 23 March 2018 in Geneva.
70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This year, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) celebrates its 70th anniversary. So not much older than our association which celebrated its 55th anniversary last summer.
The UDHR is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the UDHR was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. For the first time, it sets out fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.
The text of the UDHR is timeless and continues to be relevant at global, national and regional level. It recognises that all human beings are free and equal and entitled to the rights and freedoms identified in its thirty Articles. These include the right to life, right to justice, right to freedom of movement and culminate in the right to a social and international order in which the rights and freedom set forth in the UDHR can be fully realised.
The 70th anniversary at the heart of the UN Human Rights Council debate
This significant milestone is the common thread running through the discussions of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), the main UN body responsible for global promotion and protection of human rights. The HRC meets three times a year in Geneva, over a period of four weeks. Emergency meetings may be convened at short notice to respond to human crises.
The last emergency session of the HRC took place on 5 December 2017 to address the human rights violations in Myanmar, which have caused over half of the Rohingya population to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. In his address to the HRC, the High Commissioner for Human Rights raised the controversial question whether, based on the evidence, elements of genocide could be present. He also acknowledged that this is ultimately a question for a competent court.
Now during its 37th session, the attention of the HRC is being diverted in a number of directions: from addressing the ongoing conflict in Syria to protecting the rights of the child in humanitarian situations; from exploring the rights of persons with disabilities (specifically access to justice) to concrete action to eliminate racial discrimination; from the abolition of the death penalty on the African continent to freedom of religion.
The 37th session of the HRC also allowed some time for reflection upon various human rights achievements over the past 70 years and challenges to come.
The President of the HRC chaired a high-level panel discussion to mark the 70th anniversary. The members of the panel recognised that one of the greatest achievements of the UDHR is that it emerged following a dark period of history during the Second World War, when seemingly impossible consensus by all states was achieved to recognise universal values. The UDHR sowed the seeds of identifying the human rights which required protection. There are now nine human rights treaties, with the corresponding monitoring bodies, giving legal and enforceable rights to groups including children, women and persons with disabilities. In return, this has given visibility and recognition to these groups in society.
The panel identified challenges for the future to include:
- Recognition and strengthening of regional systems such as the African and Inter-American systems to enhance global engagement with human rights issues.
- Engagement of the next generation with human rights norms, while recognising that innovations such as artificial intelligence and bioscience will impact on the ability to engage.
- Implementation of human rights policies which may require a change of perception to widen their impact. Narrowing the gap between certain groups in society may be achieved by recognising that, for example, housing is more than a commodity; it is a human right which is necessary to give dignity and equality to the homeless and those in sub-standard housing.
The role of the individual in the UDHR
And what about the role of the individual in upholding the UDHR?
Aung San Suu Kyi once asserted that, "I do protect human rights, and I hope I shall always be looked up as a champion of human rights." On her doorstep sit the Rohingya people in desperate need of a champion to promote and protect their human rights.
70 years young, the UDHR invites every individual to promote respect for the rights and freedoms that it enshrines. As young lawyers in all corners of the globe, whatever our area of specialism, we can be its champions.
AIJA partners with the European Centre for Space Law
21 March 2018
AIJA is pleased to partner with the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) for our third edition of the Best International Future Lawyer Award competition. The competition invites law students with an interest in international law to submit an essay responding to the following question: “The moon is colonised and you are in charge of its legislation. How do you handle it?”. The deadline to enter the competition is 15 May 2018.
The European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) was established under the auspices of the European Space Agency in 1989, with a mandate to promote awareness, knowledge and development of the legal framework relevant for outer space activities. The ECSL seeks to fulfil its mandate by organising a range of conferences, courses and activities for students, academics and professionals throughout the year. Every year, the ECSL organises the European Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court, an Essay Competition and a two-week course on Space Law and Policy – free for selected students from or studying in an ESA-member states. Other activities are organised on an ad-hoc basis. For more information see the ECSL website or follow the European Centre for Space Law on Facebook or LinkedIn.
On 23 and 24 March, the ECSL will organise a Practitioners’ Forum and a Young Lawyer Symposium at ESA Hq in Paris. The Practitioners Forum aims to gather experts from all over the space sector to address an emerging issue in space, this year focusing on cyber issues and legal tools to address and mitigate threats. The aim of the Young Lawyer Symposium is to allow for early career scholars and professionals to present on a space law related topic in an international forum, exchange ideas and network amongst themselves. This year’s Young Lawyers’ Symposium will consider legal aspects in relation to space debris, renewable launchers, space vehicles and future exploration.
AIJA will be present at the Young Lawyers’ Symposium on 24 March 2018. We look forward to being there and discussing with participants about how they can apply to become the next Best International Future Lawyer. See you there!
The second annual T.R.A.D.E conference to take place in amazing Amsterdam
20 March 2018
It is not just because of its beautiful historic canals, bikes, architecture or world-class museums! Amsterdam is also home to many international law firms and global businesses. This makes it an attractive and vibrant city for international lawyers to experience the value of the commercial law practice during AIJA’s second annual T.R.A.D.E conference, from 12 to 14 April 2018.
This year’s conference will cover a broad range of practical topics related to the preparation, negotiation, drafting and termination of international commercial contracts. Attendants will have the opportunity to access first-hand knowledge from highly qualified speakers from international law firms and in-house legal departments. This second edition of the conference hopes to provide international commercial lawyers with an ideal forum to exchange their views on the topic and enrich their network. On top of that, AIJA’s unique spirit of friendship will make everyone feel welcome!
Babak Tabeshian, Organising Committee Member, explains that while all the sessions are timely and highly relevant, “for those who do a lot of business with Asia, the panel on intercultural negotiations will be particularly interesting” on Friday, 13 April. He adds that “the in-house counsel panel discussions on contract management and termination will also be of particular interest” on Saturday, 14 April. On the same day, hot topics such as the effects of Brexit on cross-border contracts will add even more flavour to the scientific programme.
The social programme will start on Thursday, 12 April, with a welcome reception at the Eye, an architectural pearl standing on the banks of the River IJ. This will be followed by a canal cruise and an exquisite dinner at an Indonesian restaurant on Friday, 13 April. And if this isn’t enough, we hope that you will stay in town after the conference to enjoy the many splendid sights Amsterdam has to offer.
For more information about the conference and to register, visit the dedicated webpage.
Meet the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) head on
19 March 2018
Coming into effect on 25 May 2018, GDPR will introduce new data protection obligations for companies and new rights for individuals. The forthcoming regulation will have a heavy impact not only on the EU-based companies, but those based outside of the EU will also have to apply the same rules while offering services in the region. One of the most significant aspects of the GDPR is that it expands the territorial scope of the EU data protection law. Regardless of the company’s location, data processing with reference to the EU will lead to the applicability of the GDPR.
With the new regulation looming on the horizon, we will organise a GDPR seminar for AIJA members on the side-line of the 2018 Annual Conference “At the Crossroads: The Fusion of Private and Public International Law” of the American Bar Association. The AIJA seminar will be held on Friday, 20 April at the Grand Hyatt, in New York.
During the seminar, attendants will find out to what extent the GDPR applies to companies outside the EU/EEA and how the GDPR requirements for non-EU companies can be efficiently implemented in current processes in data-driven business models. Mastering the appropriate tools and knowledge of an adaptable roadmap towards an efficient implementation of the GDPR will provide companies with a clear competitive advantage.
According to Johannes Struck, Organising Committee Member of AIJA, the main challenge of the GDPR will be “to adapt the data transfer strategies of companies with transatlantic business operations to the new requirements of legal compliance and data protection management. This will be vital for companies that wish to continue to present themselves as reliable partners, particularly for non-EU/EEA companies”.
Speaking about the impact of the regulation on international law firms, David Areias, Organising Committee Member of AIJA, adds that “they [international law firms] are very likely to have the activity of their international clients impacted or influenced by the GDPR. Therefore, they must be prepared to recognise the need of compliance with the GDPR by developing internal skills and knowledge, and various forms of cooperation with their EU offices or with other EU law firms.”
Registration is now open. See you soon!
AIJA supports ELSA Student Trainee Exchange Programme (STEP)
07 March 2018
This year, AIJA is happy to support again ELSA, the European Law Students' Association, in their efforts to identify law firms that may be interested to hire new trainees and be part of STEP.
STEP is a trainee exchange programme that enables law students and young lawyers to gain first hand experience of the substantive and procedural law as well as the culture of another country. The Student Trainee Exchange Programme of ELSA offers AIJA members the opportunity to have highly qualified law students from all over Europe as trainees. The traineeship can vary from 2 weeks to 24 months and can take place in any law related area.
For more information about the traineeship programme, visit the dedicated website.
Read testimonials of AIJA members that benefited from the STEP programme:
“Our office has a specialized, niche field of expertise: assisting German-speaking clients in Belgium. ELSA STEP is therefore an excellent partner for us, as it brings us in contact with many native German speaking students from abroad. On the other hand, the students find an interesting opportunity abroad where there is no language handicap. On the contrary, they can immediately ‘STEP’ in. The selection process goes very smooth and fast, and is almost completely arranged by ELSA itself. We just fill in the forms concerning the requirements and after some time we receive detailed CVs of the candidates, leaving us only the (difficult) task to select. No hassle with separate traineeship agreements etc… everything is standard form,so we can concentrate on working together with the
students.” - David Diris, Kocks & Partners (Belgium)
“We are very pleased and satisfied in participating in ELSA Traineeship Programme and we will do it again. It was an interesting experience for the trainee who had the opportunity to work with us for a period of time and leave the life of a law firm, but also for the people of our firm who benefited from networking with an international student.” - Manuela Cavallo, Portolano Cavallo Studio Legale (Italy)