Category: About the WJA

Opening Session Sydney on the “Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water Justice”

The World Jurist Association (WJA) organized on February 9 the Opening Session Sydney about the “Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water Justice”, featuring academic referents and prestigious professionals from different parts of the world. The online conference analyzed the basic principles of the Brasilia Declaration to promote water justice through the application of water legislation and the rule of law in environmental matters. This debate gave continuity to the Permanent Forum on Energy Transition and Climate that will culminate in the 28th edition of the World Law Congress to be held on July 20-21, 2023, in New York.

Teodora Toma, Executive Director of the WJA, introduced the forum contextualizing the importance of water in our lives and the need to use it wisely. For years, water scarcity has been a problem aggravated by waste, pollution, and unsustainable management.

Brian Preston, Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia, started by introducing the ten principles of the Brasilia Declaration. In his view, Principle 1 is the most relevant; it emphasizes that water should be recognized as a good of public interest, given that the State should exercise the management of all water resources and protect them together with their associated ecological functions, for the benefit of present and future generations. This principle also promotes the importance of intergenerational equity, and “governments have a responsibility to manage water resources for present and future generations”.

Judge Preston explained that principle 4 seeks to avoid costly measures to rehabilitate, treat or develop new water supplies or related ecosystems. The prevention of future damage to water resources and related ecosystems should take precedence over the repair of damage, considering the best available technologies and best environmental practices. As per principle 5, he detailed that “despite scientific uncertainty or complexity about the existence of serious or irreversible damage to water, human health or the environment, or risks of such damage, a judge should take the necessary protective measures, taking into account the best available scientific evidence”. Finally, he emphasized principle 8, water justice and good water governance, explaining that the existence of good water legislation and its enforcement are essential for the protection, conservation and sustainable use of water resources and related ecosystems.

Stephano Burchi, President of the International Association for Water Law (AIDA), explained how the Brasilia Declaration made members of the Judiciary aware of the scope of this problem. “The Declaration is a legally binding instrument; however, it has already been introduced, inspired and incorporated into the jurisprudence of different jurisdictions around the world”. He then stressed that the concept of water justice has several complementary angles: legal, institutional, social, and ecological equity.

Afterwards, Kunzang Kunzang, Legal Director of the National Environment Commission of Bhutan, clarified the relevance of Principle 2 of the Declaration, which involves land use and ecological function of property, she detailed that every person entitled to use water resources or land has a duty to maintain the ecological functions and integrity of water resources and ecosystems. Principle 7, on the other hand, states that the polluter pays, the user pays, and that environmental costs and externalities should be international. It states that “environmental factors should be included in the assessment and pricing of water resources and their services. In this way, for example, those who cause water pollution and ecosystem degradation should bear the costs of pollution”.

Barbara van Kopper, Emeritus Scientist on Poverty, Gender and Water at the International Water Management Institute, explained principle 3, which deals concerns the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples to water resources and related ecosystems, which should be respected along with their traditional relations and customs with these resources and ecosystems.

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WJA & WLF Signed a Collaboration Agreement with Mexican Guild Organizations

Last week in Mexico City, the World Jurist Association (WJA) and the World Law Foundation (WLF) signed agreements for collaboration and strategic alliance with different guild associations of this country: the National Bar Association of Lawyers of Mexico (INCAM), the National Association of Corporate Lawyers of Mexico (ANADE), the Mexican Bar Association of Lawyers, and the General Council of Mexican Lawyers.

The agreements raise the necessity to spread the importance of the Rule of Law as a fundamental pillar of democracy, peace, liberty, and human rights. Furthermore, these agreements consider a continuous alliance for the cooperation in the development of congresses and events, together with topics of mutual interest, academic exchanges, the development of publications, and other judicial activities of interest for all parties.

In this way, the Mexican guild organizations, the WJA, and the WLF become permanent collaborators and promise to reciprocally support each other in different projects aimed at promoting the Rule of Law.

The agreements were signed by Javier Cremades, President of the World Jurist Association & World Law Foundation; Víctor Olea Peláez, incoming President of the Mexican Bar Association of Lawyers; Nuhad Kuri, President of the ANADE; Arturo Pueblita Fernández, President of the INCAM; Gerardo Nieto Martínez, President of the General Council of Mexican Lawyers; in presence of Antonio Navalón, Juan Luis Cebrián, and Diego Solana, WLF advisors.

Invitation to the World Law Congress 2023

This framework agreement has also considered the participation of members of the Mexican guild organizations at the World Law Congress New York 2023, which will be held on July 20 and 21, this year.

This Congress gathers the international jurist community, every two years, in different parts of the world. At the event, global leaders will discuss and propose solutions to an extensive variety of topics, including regulations for the energy crisis, corporate law, environment, gender equality, human rights, artificial intelligence, education trends, among many others. For more information:

Digital Resources for Climate Law

Digital Resources for Climate Law

On December 1, the World Jurist Association (WJA) and World Law Foundation (WLF) organized the Opening Session London of the World Law Congress New York 2023. Co-organized with Climate Policy Radar, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment of the London School of Economics, and Laws Africa, environmental law experts discussed about open source “Digital Resources for Climate Law”.

The online session addressed how digital technology can facilitate the effective use of legal data for climate law research, policy making and litigation. All of this, with a focus on protecting human rights and preserving the Rule of Law around the world.

In his introduction, Diego Solana, international advisor of the World Law Foundation, contextualized the current European energy crisis derived from the invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing its great impact on the economy and the Rule of Law. Likewise, he pointed out that this debate is a continuation of the Permanent Forum on Energy Transition and Climate, which will culminate in the World Law Congress New York 2023, to be held on July 20 and 21, 2023.

Open access to climate data and legislation is a guarantee of rights

The panel was chaired by Lord Robert Carnwath, former judge of the UK Supreme Court, member of Landmark Chambers and associate professor at the LSE Grantham Research Institute. Panelists included Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University and leader of Climate Change Litigation Database, USA; Michal Nachmany, CEO and founder of Climate Policy Radar, UK; Greg Kempe, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Laws.Africa; and Catherine Higham, Coordinator of the Climate Change Laws of the World program at the LSE Grantham Research Institute.

After commenting on the relevance of access to climate legislation, case studies and jurisprudence for all nations, the former British judge gave the floor to Michael Gerrard, who presented two databases on climate change litigation that he and his team began working on in 2007. This exhaustive research also refers, with the United States as a sample for analysis, to the legal models for the pursuit of decarbonization and climate regulation around the world. “With these databases we have found the particularity that they can be used globally for climate litigation and their usefulness and functionality for society lies in the fact that they are freely accessible in all parts of the world.”

After a round of questions to Gerrard on the challenges and limitations in research, Carnwath passed the floor to Michal Nachmany, who explained that “sharing knowledge” was the “motivation” for starting Climate Policy Radar, a contribution to the academic community, but also to society. “We are building the world’s largest and most comprehensive open knowledge base on climate policy, law and litigation.” The database is structured, intuitive, available in multiple languages, and is also “open source and free”, which allows “discovering national climate legislation from any country of the world”.

Greg Kemple then stressed that, in Africa, there is no transparency or free access to the country’s own climate laws, which is a barrier to securing rights. This is a challenge that requires special attention, especially considering that the effects of climate change in African countries are greater than in other latitudes. Considering that the fundamentals for the use of legal information are impact, use, understanding, access, knowledge, and availability, Kemple ended his speech by stressing that “enabling free and effective access to the law is essential for government, administration, business, the fight against corruption, the environment, and human rights”.

After Carnwath’s review of the presentation, the floor was given to Catherine Higham who emphasized the need for lawyers to be updated and aware of the uses of artificial intelligence, technology and the different open access databases presented throughout the session. The coordinator of Climate Change Laws of the World focused on the global and individual importance of climate legislation and practical cases, pointing out as a problem that “not all countries in the world have access to legal data on climate policies and laws”. Therefore, it is necessary to understand “what is the impact of failing in a climate case against cooperation” and the importance of an international consensus agreeing the digitization and liberalization of information on climate litigation.

At the end, after a final presentation of ideas by the speakers and a debate on the subject, Diego Solana concluded the session by explaining the importance of experts in international and climate law. He also emphasized the importance of raising awareness and freeing access to databases on climate laws and enabling the development of the Rule of Law in different countries around the world, such as Africa. To conclude the Opening Session, Solana stated: “if it is not accessible, it does not exist“.


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The World Law Congress Awarded Best International Legal Initiative

The recognition has been awarded at the Legal Marcom National Law Gala 2022, the first Spanish-speaking awards that honor professionals in the sector.

The World Law Congress was recognized as the Best International Legal Initiative at the Legal Marcom 2022 Awards. The jury, comprised of 40 general counsels of prestigious transnational companies in Spain and legal journalists, awarded 28 prizes in twelve categories for Spain and Latin America.

At a different country every two years, the World Law Congress brings together different legal organizations that focus on the Rule of Law as a guarantor of freedom and development for nations. Given the great leading role of the Organizing Committee, the last editions of the congress gathered more than 2,000 leaders from around the five continents. Panelists include heads of State, presidents of international and national courts, judges, academics, lawyers, journalists, politicians, businesspeople, and students, who discussed topics as diverse as human rights, regulations for artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies, refugee crisis, democracy, high education trends, climate change, mediation, intellectual property, among many others. 

The Legal Marcom 2022 National Law Gala is an “enriching meeting point for the legal sector”, as Marc Gericó, managing partner of Gericó Associates, points out, and “a benchmark in the legal world”, according to Fernando Díaz Barco, member of the jury and director of Legal Counsel at Sacyr. About the 28 awards presented, Ana Prado, general counsel of Mercedes-Benz Spain, emphasized that “it was very difficult to decide as there were many very good candidates”, emphasizing “the great initiative and the good health of the sector”.

Rule of Law, Energy Transition and Climate

The Opening Session Helsinki of the World Law Congress New York 2023 gathered prestigious judges and academics who presented current environmental cases and their relevance in protecting human rights and the Rule of Law.

On November 7, 2022, the World Jurist Association (WJA) held the Opening Session Helsinki on Rule of Law, Energy Transition and Climate, which featured presentations by expert practitioners and academics from different countries. The presentations included theoretical and practical presentations of current international cases on environmental and climate mitigation issues, highlighting the relevance of sentences and sustainable energy policies in the global context and as a guarantee of the protection of human rights and the environment for future generations.

The online meeting, prior to the 28th edition of the World Law Congress to be held in New York on July 20 and 21, 2023, was presented by the executive director of the WJA, Teodora Toma, and moderated by the president of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland, Kari Kuusiniemi. It also featured presentations by Ekaterini N. Iliadou, Professor at the Law School of Athens, Greece; Luc Lavrysen, President of the Constitutional Court of Belgium and President of the European Union Judges Forum for the Environment; Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, Australia; Ania Rytel-Warzocha, Professor at the University of Gdansk, Poland; and Christina Voigt, Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Advocating for the Rights of Future Generations: Climate Policy and Sustainable Energy

In his introduction, judge Kuusiniemi described the impact of human activity on the “radical changes” in the environment and the European complexity given that “Russia is using energy as a weapon, which makes the energy transition necessary”. He then pointed out that “institutions must take care of the environment, support human rights and protect future generations.”

Meanwhile, Professor Iliadou focused on the European Union’s policies towards energy transition, emphasizing the need to establish climate laws as a top priority. She stressed that, being “energy a common public good, both in companies and homes, public intervention to guarantee it is essential”, adding that energy “impacts on the environment and on local and regional pollution”. She also justified the need for public intervention in the energy sector, as it traditionally rests on three pillars that protect future generations: “security of supply, affordability, and environmental protection”.

Judge Lavrysen then focused on the nexus between environmental and energy guarantees and the separation of powers and constitutionalism to protect the Rule of Law. “Climate change policies are complemented by constitutional rights such as corporate freedom, equality before the law, non-discrimination.” He reviewed European jurisprudence towards climate neutrality. The president of the Belgian Constitutional Court concluded, asserting that “the demanded policies are insufficient in relation to compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, potentially conflicting with the separation of powers and thus with the Rule of Law.”

In this vein, Justice Preston explained the Australian government’s accountability in the face of climate litigation. He referred that the government “must take the lead in establishing and implementing the strategic, policy and legal frameworks necessary for effective climate action.” However, Preston stated that the administration, in some cases, “adopts policies, but does not implement them” and it is then when “the judiciary must hold the administration accountable for compliance”. Among some of the incidences he identified and exemplified in his intervention are the failure to adopt climate policies, the adoption of illegal policies, the failure to implement policies or their inadequate or illegitimate implementation, and the failure to take adequate measures or the failure of the duty to take them.

All this can lead to climate change affecting fundamental rights, such as the rights to a clean and safe environment, life, health, food, water and development, among others. Prof. Rytel-Warzocha further elaborated on this issue, adding that “in the global context, those most affected by climate change are usually those who contribute the least to it”, and that “its impact will also affect the rights of future generations”. Exemplifying the case of Poland, she concludes that environmental regulations are extensive, but reflect “the need for legal instruments to ensure that climate change is effectively combated to avoid its impact on the human rights of current and future generations”.

For her part, Professor Voigt presented a Norwegian case study in which the government was accused of violating fundamental rights by granting ten licenses for oil exploration in the Barents Sea, which would generate a large export of CO2 emissions. After passing through various Norwegian courts, the case is currently before the European Court of Human Rights. Despite Norway’s request to dismiss the case, it is a juncture that “opens the door to the recognition of climate damage as a violation of human rights”.

Judge Kuusiniemi closed the panel by inviting those present to continue the discussion at the World Law Congress New York 2023 and stressing that “this Opening Session is one further step towards the mitigation of climate change by legal means, by the efforts of the courts and academia”. 




Will War Accelerate Energy Transition?

The World Jurist Association (WJA) organized the panel “Degassing Europe: Will War Accelerate the Energy Transition?” which is the first Opening Session of the “on-going” World Law Congress 2023. This virtual meeting brought together Miguel Arias Cañete, former European Commissioner for Climate Action; Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director of Energy Policy at the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission; and Javier de Cendra, Dean of the Law School of the University Francisco de Vitoria and expert in Environmental Law. 

Viviane Reding, vice-president of the World Law Foundation and former vice-president of the European Commission, moderated the debate, inaugurated by Javier Cremades, president of the WJA. During his speech, President Cremades stressed that “the energy transition is taking place in an unprecedented context in the 21st century. With the war in Ukraine, the conflict unleashed by Moscow, violating international law, has revealed the dependence of Europe and many other regions on Russian fossil fuels”.

During the debate, the panel agreed on the fact that the European Union is fully committed to the objectives of decarbonization by 2055, which implies a progressive abandonment of fossil fuels, and its total substitution by clean energies: renewables, green hydrogen, etc. The so-called energy transition process, which is currently taking place, will achieve a triple objective once complete: cheaper, non-polluting and self-sufficiency.

It was also mentioned that the war in Ukraine has highlighted the urgent need to eliminate the current EU’s energy dependence on Russia by 2030 at the latest, and if possible, by 2027.

Panelists also agreed that energy transition towards decarbonization and independence from Russia are not contradictory goals; on the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing. The most effective way to achieve European energy self-sufficiency is to accelerate the transition in all its dimensions: increasing the contribution of renewables, energy efficiency and savings, new technologies, and in particular, green hydrogen. This philosophy underlies the Commission’s Repower communication, which confirms and reinforces the general objectives contained in the Fit for 55’s communication, approved by the European Council.

The world is currently immersed in a global crisis, which goes beyond the war in Ukraine, and even beyond the post-COVID 19 pandemic. Panelists remarked that this situation poses major challenges to the energy transition process. For example, questions relating to the availability and cost of innovative technologies and that of the raw materials required; questions relating to the world economic situation, inflation, contraction, and growth; and of a geopolitical nature, the duration and extension of the conflict, de-globalization, and disruption of supply chains, etc.

The rise in energy prices is undoubtedly, and especially in its “energy poverty” dimension, one of the greatest causes for concern and a major challenge to the energy transition process. The panel agreed that corrective measures must be implemented, but they must not jeopardize either the progress achieved or the road ahead. The European energy market, as the data shows, has worked very effectively, particularly for consumers and to encourage investment in renewables. The current problem is caused by rising gas prices, and that must be solved with specific measures, targeted at vulnerable sectors.

The European Union began the energy transition process two decades ago, and has already achieved important results: in particular, the fulfillment of all the objectives set for 2020 and the positive forecast, even in anticipation, with respect to those of 2030. The EU has the most complete legislative tools and financial instruments in the world to achieve decarbonization by 2055. Although the current crisis presents significant risks, there is a conviction that the EU has the capacity to overcome them, even to accelerate the process.