Nepali lawyers have called for a competent and independent judiciary for the rule of law and human rights.
The biggest gathering of global lawyers in the Annual Conference of International Bar Association (IBA) commenced on 27th September 2019 at the Coex International, Seoul, South Korea. IBA’s Annual Conference is the premier conference for legal professionals worldwide to meet, share knowledge, network, build contacts and develop business. It serves to advance the development of international law and its role in business and society and to provide members with world-class professional development opportunities to enable them to deliver outstanding legal services.
It has set its objective to exchange information among professionals around the globe, to support constitutional development, rule of law and democracy, independence of judiciary and rights of lawyers, to support human rights for lawyers around the world, to work for the development of international law and to work for harmonization of international law and to conduct research activities in various disciplines of laws. For this objective, each year, lawyers from the globe meet in the annual conference of IBA.
The IBA’s first Annual Conference was held in 1947, a year prior to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It follows the spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations thereafter. IBA has grown to become the world’s largest and most prestigious leading organization of international legal practitioners, bar associations, law firms and law societies that influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world. It has a membership of more than 80,000 individual lawyers and more than 190 bar associations and law societies spanning over 170 countries.
The 6-day conference was inaugurated on September 22, 2019 at the Coex International, Seoul. The inaugural ceremony was commenced in the presence of international figures including President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, Former Secretary General of United Nations Ban Ki Moon, the Mayor of Seoul Park Woon Soon and the President of IBA Horacio Neto, who gave their remarks at the opening ceremony.
All the dignitaries agreed to ensure and reestablish rule of law around the globe. The President of IBA, Horacious Neto, highlighted that lawyers can only play important role to ensure that human rights and rule of laws are upheld globally, especially as countries once so enshrined in peace and stability show signs of weaknesses.
The Former Secretary General of UN Ban Ki Moon went on to echo sentiments by suggesting present members of the legal market were in fact the cornerstone of functioning democracy and rule of law and have key responsibility in safeguarding human rights and access to justice.
IBA Annual conference was also attended by the President of Nepal Bar Association (NBA) Senior Advocate Chandeshwor Shrestha and Advocate Saroj K. Ghimire. Senior Advocate Shrestha was invited in the capacity of President to attend the meetings of IBA and Advocate Ghimire was invited as Speaker for the three sessions of IBA Conference in Seoul.
Referring to the invitation as Speaker, Advocate Ghimire said that this is the rare case for the Nepali lawyers invited by the IBA as Speaker in the annual conference for three sessions. This conference has personally benefitted him as International Speaker, however, more than this, the law professionals at this global mela witnessed a meaningful representation and deliberation of Nepali lawyers and the quality Nepali lawyers possess via IBA Sessions. Advocate Ghimire is the only Speaker in the IBA after Lt. Senior Advocate Kusum Shrestha from the legal fraternity of Nepal.
Advocate Ghimire, in his deliberation as the Speaker on business and human rights, expressed that the international legal obligation to protect human rights is not at the province of sovereign state now and now this has blurred that line and has crossed the national borders. He briefed about the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights seek to put into operation a three-pillar framework promoting corporate responsibility for human rights. While the Guiding Principles are not binding law, they confirm that states have a duty to protect against human rights abuses by businesses and articulate a “corporate responsibility to respect human rights”, which requires corporations to act with due diligence to avoid infringing internationally recognized human rights and to address the negative impacts of their activities and the third pillar focuses on states’ responsibility to provide access to effective remedies for business-related abuses. He mentioned that companies may be involved with adverse human rights impacts either through their own activities or as a result of their business relationships. Hence, now business should not be the primary focus by compromising human rights.
As the concluding remarks, Advocate Ghimire stated that the increasing legal and regulatory measures under the business and human rights heading, as well as the encouragement, by intergovernmental organizations and business groups, of voluntary steps through market-wide standards, initiatives, and multi-stakeholder processes is a new business reality. Together, these trends signal that human rights issues require attention in transactional due diligence, the design and implementation of compliance programs, and ongoing business practices. He also mentioned that the founders of the Nepal Bar Association realized this issue long ago when they determined the foundational principle of Nepal Bar Association that human rights does not only fall at the territory of state and human rights should also be advocated by corporate lawyers whose clients get involved in violating human rights.
Nevertheless these issues should equally be acquainted by the judiciary and if judiciary is influenced by the corporate players, human rights will remain only as the matter of advocacy. Hence, it’s the judiciary that can balance business and human rights, for this we need independent, impartial and competent judiciary, judiciary for rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and not the kind of judiciary we are witnessing now.
Ghimire, during his deliberation appreciated the role of the Nepal Bar Association for its contribution in upholding rule of law, constitutional values, democracy and human rights and expressed that Nepali lawyers have played catalysts for democratic movement and constitutional reforms of the nation and have been a force for all movements. He also highlighted the importance of global lawyers networking that gives opportunity to global lawyers to share their constitutional development and educate and share via networking to contribute towards the development of constitution to build a society that ensures Rule of Law, democracy, independence of judiciary and human rights.
Senior Advocate Chandeshwor Shrestha also observed the sessions and met with the President of IBA, Vice President, President of various Bar Associations including American Bar Association and Korean Bar Association for developing networking and coordination among bar associations for rule of law, democracy, and independence of judiciary and professional development of Nepal lawyers for their meaningful representation at global legal fraternity.
The Conference covered wider spectrum of legal issues including but not limited to LGBTI rights, climate change, legal expense insurance scheme and access to justice, the rights of the children, foreign investment, current legal developments, strategic human rights litigation, burnout and ethical behavior, poverty, working conditions and wages: legal and reputational risks, poverty and Social Development, enforcing judgments around the globe, double jeopardy: the relationship between administrative processes and criminal proceedings, defending the rule of law, the business of human rights and ombudsman.