Category: About the WJA

Opening Session Luxemburg: AI & Rule of Law

On the theme “Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law”, the World Jurist Association (WJA) held the ninth opening session Luxembourg of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021. According to Xavier Bettel, chair of the event, Prime Minister and Minister of Media, Communications and Digitalisation of Luxembourg:

“the main challenge we face is to gain people’s trust so that they are not afraid of Artificial Intelligence”.

Furthermore, Mr. Bettel added that “we must remember that, as human beings, we design [AI], we develop it and we choose to what extent it benefits society”. In this way, he defended the need to establish strict control criteria and the importance of being transparent and guaranteeing human dignity and rights: “this is what we have to ask from machines”.

Javier Cremades, president of the WJA, stressed in his opening speech that “we are facing new challenges that are a consequence of the digitalization of society in which Artificial Intelligence is also a challenge for the Rule of Law, since we must find a way to ensure that AI does not deteriorate it and that they are compatible”.

Meanwhile, Marina Teller, professor at the University of Nice, shared her opinion on the role of justice in the new technological landscape: “the law must prevent machines from monopolizing the political decision-making process, which must remain in the realm of human actions”. For this reason, she considers that “the first step towards this transition is related to developing critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication”. In addition, she pointed out that:

“to establish the rights of people in the digital era, a legal framework for Artificial Intelligence is necessary”.

Along these lines, Karim Benyekhlef, professor at the University of Montreal, emphasized that “we must consider that, with fairness in mind, Artificial Intelligence is the result of human engineering”. And he assured that “there is a responsibility to act now to regulate it without waiting any longer”.

Gregory Lewkowicz, professor at the University of Brussels, focused his speech from the perspective of lawyers and bar associations, “The development of digital society and the use of artificial intelligence makes lawyers face many potential problems. One of the most important now is that of the trust clients must have. Client-attorney confidentiality is very important and, since we use digital technology for almost everything, there are many challenges regarding the protection of information.

Viviane Reding, Vice President of the World Law Foundation (WLF) and Vice President of the European Commission (2010-2014), after assuming the role of coordinator and moderator of this panel, closed the meeting advising that “investments must be made to learn about Artificial Intelligence, because if you do not have knowledge, you will not be able to survive in the new ecosystem that is opening up before us”.

“It will need to be a wake up for lawyers in big institutions or in small cabinets… If they do not know about AI, if they do not understand the system, they cannot survive in the long term. And those should be the lessons to take with us also to Colombia”.

This meeting is the ninth session prior to the World Congress of Law to be held in Colombia this year, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/zkMrg3WOrKs

SUMMARY SESSION: https://youtu.be/Bx16hN8wDeE

Opening Session Caracas: Distortion of the Rule of Law

Together with the Permanent Conference of Ibero-American Legal Academies (CPAJI in Spanish), the World Jurist Association (WJA) organized this preliminary session of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which has taken up the importance of underpinning the Rule of Law to ensure human dignity:

“It must be cared for and protected from constant threats and must always lead to justice and equity, because the only guarantee of freedom and peace is submission to the laws, not to the rule of force.”

Javier Cremades

President of WJA & WLF

During the opening, representing the CPAJI, Augusto Trujillo, Professor of Constitutional Law and President of the Colombian Academy of Jurisprudence, pointed out that “the rule of law is a guarantee of coexistence and, if this is not the case, we are facing a state of arbitrariness with laws”.

Humberto Romero Muci, Professor of Financial Law at the Andrés Bello Catholic University and President of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences of Venezuela, was the host and moderator of this debate titled “Falsehood of the Rule of Law”. He highlighted the situation in Venezuela and described it as “dramatic” due to the “dysfunction of democracy and the systematic violation of the Rule of Law suffered by Venezuelans”.

“There has been a disfigurement by those governing who come to power determined to use and adulterate the institutions for their own benefit, with the aim of undermining the balance between the different government bodies”.

Humberto Romero Muci

These statements were endorsed by Karlos Navarro, professor at the Universidad Santo Tomás, director of the Ibero-American Institute of Higher Studies (IIES) and president of the Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation of Nicaragua, for whom “the authoritarian model in Latin America has the capacity to resist, mutate and survive, developing mostly in poor societies lacking democracy”.

For Allan R. Brewer-Carías, professor emeritus of the Central University of Venezuela and member of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences of Venezuela, the Rule of Law implies seven principles: constitutionalism, democratization, deconcentration of power, legality and judicialization, decentralization of power, primacy of human rights and civil government.

This position is shared by Laura Chinchilla, president of Costa Rica (2010-2014), who emphasized that:

“the rule of law is the most important guarantor of democracy against those who exercise power, and therefore is the favorite prey of politicians with weak democratic convictions, because it stands in the way of their will or the ends they pursue and the rules”.

For his part, Néstor Pedro Sagües, Professor Emeritus of the University of Buenos Aires and Member of the National Academy of Law and Social Sciences of Buenos Aires, pointed out that “a country whose Congress becomes a factory of institutional laws contributes to significantly diminish the normative force of the Constitution”.

Along these lines, Manuel Aragón Reyes, academic director of the World Law Congress, professor emeritus of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, magistrate emeritus of the Constitutional Court of Spain and member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation of Spain, warned about the risk posed by the abusive use of emergency legislation, “what we know as a decree-law”. And he highlighted the obligation that jurists have:

 “to protect the Rule of Law, to denounce its breaches and to contribute with our voices to confront situations of real distortion”. 

Marisol Peña, first woman president of the Constitutional Court of Chile (2013-2014), minister of the Chilean Constitutional Court (2006-2018), university professor and member of the Chilean Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, highlighted the work carried out by the Ibero-American Academies of Jurisprudence within the World Law Congress, inviting virtual attendees to the next Opening Session Córdoba, which will also be organized by the Ibero-American academies.

This is the eighth session preceding the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, promised to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/EshNgDt1SDo

SUMMARY SESSION: https://youtu.be/LcvobsDVxZw

The Rule of Law through the Educational System WLC Opening Session Dominican Republic

Chaired by Luis Henry Molina Peña, President of the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic, the World Jurist Association celebrated the Opening Session Dominican Republic of the World Law Congress “Higher Education: A dialogue in the Market”, on January 19, 2021. The event focused on the need to promote the rule of law through the education system.

Javier Cremades, President of the World Jurist Association (WJA) and the World Law Foundation, opened the debate by calling for collaboration to “educate the population on the importance of the rule of law through all educational structures and thus ensure that the new generations of judges, prosecutors and jurists can have access to a coherent legal system”.

Along these lines, María Eugenia Gay, president of WJA Spain and dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, acknowledged that the education system at its highest levels has to provide students with the tools they need to perform their work in decent conditions, and added that we must ensure that we provide all the mechanisms to ensure that lack of experience is an intermediate stage between training and employment.

William Adams, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education at the American Bar Association, emphasized that training around the rule of law will have a greater impact on higher education if it starts at the grassroots: “civics education in elementary schools was very common, it disappeared and now it is coming back into the curriculum, and I hope that the school boards start acknowledging that this is as necessary as it used to be.

For his part, Antonio García Padilla, president of the Puerto Rican Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, coordinator and moderator of the panel, directed the debate towards the dichotomy that arises from the possibility of pursuing an entire law degree online, while there are countries that do not recognize the quality of a distance education. In fact, Joseph K. West, partner and head of diversity and inclusion at Duane Morris, insisted on the need to “be aware of how you are educating and what education you are providing, because schools need to focus on inclusion, as they have begun to understand what the real situation is in dealing with people.”

Maite D. Oronoz Rodríguez, president of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, emphasized that currently “we are training lawyers for the 20th century because, although the world has evolved, the judiciary has not evolved as fast”. She believes that it is “imperative to rethink the way we educate,” but acknowledged that “while it is true that technology facilitates justice and the search for truth, I am not sure that it makes a student complete with the needs that we will keep on having in courtrooms.” In this sense, as she pointed out, “the interpersonal intelligence and communication that occurs in an academic environment, in a classroom or in a courtroom, I don’t think is fully and completely achieved by a fully online preparation or education.”

Regarding the role technology is playing in the legal aspect, Luis Henry Molina Peña, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Dominican Republic, said that “the Internet has become an essential element that, until now, had only had an impact on the processing of paperwork. Now, it has transformed the operators of the administration of justice and has allowed citizens to get closer to justice, enabling them to have control over the provision of a service, for example, and providing them with greater transparency”.

Jaime Granados Peña, lawyer and university professor, specialist in criminal law, emphasized that the most difficult thing in the Colombian judicial system has been to understand that technology is not a threat, but a tool to achieve different circumstances: “they represent an opportunity to bring respect for the law closer to citizens and generate new possibilities for their rights to become a reality”.

This meeting is the sixth session prior to the World Congress of Law to be held in Colombia this year, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”.

FULL SESSION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWvjTrOtlFM

Opening Session Strasbourg “International Protection of Families & Children”

In collaboration with the European Bars Federation (FBE), the World Jurist Association (WJA) celebrated on February 25, 2021 the Opening Session Strasbourg of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, focused on the importance of the Rule of Law in protecting minors in vulnerable situations, while maintaining their human dignity. Javier Cremades, president of the WJA and the World Law Foundation, opened the webinar by emphasizing that this is a very important area for the society, acknowledging that “if the rule of law is anthropocentric, the protection of families and children is essential”.

Under the title “The International Protection of Families and Children”, María Eugenia Gay, president of the WJA Spain and dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, moderated this debate in which Silvia Giménez-Salinas, president of the FBE, assured that “from its beginnings, the protection of children provided the administration with the necessary speed to protect a child immediately in the face of abuse or negligence, as we cannot allow procedural deadlines to harm them”. Along these lines, she pointed out that “family law and the protection of children has advanced thanks to European regulations”. However, she acknowledged that each State has its own independent regulations and has its own family law.

The same situation occurs in the United States where family law is statutory: “There is no American divorce law, for example,” acknowledges Pamela M. Sloan, chair of the NYC Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee and Council at the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), who assured that, during these processes, children are given a voice. “The lawyer’s job is to advocate for the interests of the child, they have a confidential relationship, and the child does not have to be present at court because the judge can question them outside,” she said.

For her part, Dominique Attias, first vice-president of the FBE, was concerned about the cause of ghost children and wanted to pay special attention to these minors who are not registered, since, as she pointed out, “every minor must be registered at birth to have a legal identity”. Adding that “children whose birth is not registered do not exist in the eyes of their country’s governments, complicating access to their rights, health and education, which could even be denied to them”.

International child abduction is another problem related to the protection of children. Ignacio Goicoechea, representative of the Regional Office of the Hague Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC), called for “less rhetoric and more effective protection” to solve this issue since, he stressed, “what children need is to be protected”. Carolina Marín Pedreño, vice-president of the IAFL and former president of the Westminster and Holborn Bar Association (UK), also referred to this issue, pointing out that “the Hague Convention is a very good instrument to comply with the need for a child to be returned to his or her country of origin after having been abducted”. In addition, she highlighted the training of lawyers and recognized that “on occasions, we see children who have not been returned because the parent has declared that he or she is not aware of the existence of treaties that solve the situation”. In this sense, Diana Hamade, a lawyer from the United Arab Emirates and member of the IAFL, pointed out that “in many countries there are deficiencies when a parent takes a child away and the child is not returned to the other parent”.

Regarding child marriage, Dilia Leticia Jorge Mera, Vice Minister of Innovation, Transparency and Citizen Services of the Dominican Republic, stated that “it is a real situation of violation of human rights, since child marriage is carried out without the consent of children and adolescents, who are coerced by their families or by the social environment around them”. She also pointed out that “Dominican Republic and Nicaragua occupy the first place in Latin America with 8,000 minor girls and teenagers married between 2001 and 2019”.

For Pakistani lawyer Sulema Jahangir, member of the IAFL, the global culture of justice and equality could be used in benefit of minors in Pakistan where “judges try to help families and advance laws that are fairer for women”. She also highlighted the goal “to improve the lives of hundreds of women and families in Muslim countries”.

For Daniela Horvitz, president of AIJUDEFA (International Association of Family Lawyers) and governor general of the IAFL, giving children, young people and families the protection needed, also implies “an imperative need to standardize basic principles in relation to family law”.

This meeting has served as preview of the family law topics that will be discussed during the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Colombian Constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/FmXQmqcK1No

Sign the WJA Declaration on the Venezuelan Elections

The World Jurist Association presented an expert declaration written by more than 1,000 legal professionals from different countries denouncing that the December 6, 2020 parliamentary elections in Venezuela lack the necessary guarantees to be considered valid elections under the international law . According to this legal analysis, the elections, which have not been recognized by either the European Union or the Organization of American States, will be null and void.

(You may sign the Declaration HERE )

With this initiative, the WJA seeks to warn the world’s public opinion about Nicolas Maduro’s attempts to elect a new National Assembly through a call that does not meet the minimum democratic requirements. Today, after five years of disregard for the Assembly by an illegitimate executive, the elections convened will be held amidst evident signs of lack of transparency, and harassment towards the few unwelcomed candidates for the government. The signatories call attention to the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice, in contravention of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, appointed the five directors of the National Electoral Council, thereby permitting them to modify the electoral laws at their discretion.

The accusation raised by the WJA bears the support of jurists of outstanding prestige and international recognition such as Álvaro Rodríguez Bereijo, President Emeritus of the Spanish Constitutional Court, and writer of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; Marie-Aimeé Peyron, President of the Paris Bar Association (2017-2019); Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice (2010-2014); Peter N. C. Umeadi, Professor and Justice Emeritus of the Anambra State Court, Nigeria; David Mills, Professor of Law at Stanford Law School; Augusto Trujillo, President of the Colombian Academy of Jurisprudence; and Katharina Miller, President of the European European Women Lawyers Association, among others. 

In like manner, Johann Kriegler, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa until 2002, is a signatory to the document. Justice Kriegler was appointed in 1993 as Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, which conducted the first post-apartheid elections with real universal suffrage in his country. Nelson Mandela’s collaborator has stated, on the current Venezuelan process, that having seen how a dictatorship evolves towards democracy, today we are witnessing the steps taken by an old democracy towards the strengthening of a dictatorship. Kriegler is considered the world’s leading authority on electoral processes.

On the basis of the verified data and in the absence, in the upcoming Venezuelan elections, of the political and legal guarantees already outlined, which are necessary for an election to be regarded as free and democratic, the signatories of the Declaration hold that such elections are invalid and reject their celebration. Consequently, they hold that in order to guarantee the protection of human rights in the country, the legitimacy of the current Venezuelan National Assembly must be preserved until genuine free, inclusive and democratic elections are convened.

This declaration will be presented at the United Nations, the European Parliament and other International Institutions and Courts over the world to continue condemning this electoral fraud in Venezuela. Jurists from around the world are called to support the restoration of the Rule of Law in Venezuela. You may sign the Declaration HERE

READ THE WJA DECLARATION ON THE VENEZUELA ELECTIONS

To sign and support this Declaration CLICK HERE

LEA LA DECLARACIÓN DE LA WJA SOBRE LAS ELECCIONES VENEZUELA

Para firmar la Declaración CLIC HERE

Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas

Javier Cremades, abogado y Presidente de la World Jurist Association

Johann Kriegler*

Resulta paradójico que el mismo día que los españoles celebramos el cuadragésimo segundo aniversario de nuestra Carta Magna, sus principios democráticos y los valores de convivencia, en Venezuela tuvieron lugar unas elecciones fraudulentas y contrarias a Derecho convocadas por Nicolás Maduro. Esta calificación no es fruto de la mera reflexión de los juristas que aquí firman, sino del dictamen de más de 1000 juristas de 40 países. En efecto, la Asociación Mundial de Juristas (World Jurist Association), con sede en Washington, presentó el pasado viernes un dictamen en el que denunciamos que las elecciones parlamentarias en Venezuela carecen de las garantías necesarias contempladas en el derecho internacional para considerarlas unas elecciones válidas y ajustadas al Estado de Derecho. Por este motivo, esta votación no ha sido reconocido por la Unión Europea ni por la Organización de los Estados Americanos como un proceso electoral valido.

Este dictamen jurídico es una advertencia a toda la opinión pública mundial del fraude que intenta cometer Nicolás Maduro deshaciéndose de los molestos miembros de la Asamblea Nacional elegidos por el pueblo venezolano de forma legítima en el año 2015. Habiendo despreciado previamente sus funciones básicas, ahora el régimen de Nicolás Maduro directamente y al margen del pueblo venezolano pretende poner a sus más afines también en la Asamblea Nacional. Conforme concluye el dictamen internacional de juristas, esa votación está controlado exclusivamente por el ilegitimo poder ejecutivo e incumple las garantías básicas exigidas en el derecho internacional para calificarlas como válidas.

Ante la ausencia de protección de la seguridad personal y patrimonial de otros candidatos, sin unas normas claras para el ejercicio del derecho de voto o ante continuas lesiones a la libertad de asociación, reunión o expresión, unas elecciones infringen los derechos humanos y el derecho de sufragio. Y todas estas circunstancias concurren hoy en día en Venezuela. La constatación de esta situación se desprende de multitud de hechos recogidos en la Declaración Internacional de Juristas, de la que nos gustaría destacar los siguientes. El Tribunal Supremo de Justicia de Venezuela, controlado por Nicolás Maduro desde 2016, en violación de la propia Constitución Bolivariana permitió al Consejo Nacional Electoral modificar de forma arbitraria las leyes del proceso electoral y eliminar el voto universal, directo y secreto para la elección de los diputados representantes de los pueblos indígenas.

La declaración jurídica fue presentada en la casa de todos los abogados, el Consejo General de la Abogacía Española, en un acto en el que estuvieron presentes, entre otros, Marie-Aimeé Peyron, Presidenta del Colegio de Abogados de París (2017-2019), Viviane Reding, Vicepresidenta de la Comisión Europea y Comisaria de Justicia (2010-2014), Peter N.C. Umeadi, profesor y Magistrado Emérito de Nigeria, David Mills, Catedrático de Derecho de Stanford Law School o el Doctor Augusto Trujillo, Presidente de la Academia Colombiana de Jurisprudencia.

En compañía de Leopoldo López y el Presidente Juan Guaidó, particularmente significativa fue la intervención de la probablemente máxima autoridad mundial en procesos electorales, el Juez Kriegler. Como eminente jurista y magistrado sudafricano, fue Presidente de la Comisión Electoral Independiente en 1993 y garantizó en colaboración con Nelson Mandela las primeras elecciones con sufragio universal en su país. Como actor clave en la transición del dictatorial régimen del Apartheid de su país hacía una verdadera democracia, Johann Kriegler nos enseña que “hoy estamos asistiendo en Venezuela a la evolución de una antigua democracia hacía el reforzamiento de una dictadura”.

Sin entrar a valorar cuestiones políticas ajenas al análisis legal, lo cierto es que todos estos juristas concluimos que conforme a los datos contrastados y ante la ausencia de las garantías políticas y jurídicas básicas, la votación celebrada ayer en Venezuela es invalida y no puede calificarse como una elección democrática de los miembros de la Asamblea Nacional. Ante esta situación, la consecuencia legal es clara e implacable, la legitimidad de la actual Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela debe preservarse para garantizar la protección de los Derechos Humanos en el país. Y esta legitimidad deberá prorrogarse y mantenerse en el tiempo mientras en Venezuela no puedan celebrarse unas elecciones libres y respetuosas con los principios generales de la democracia y la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos.

*Magistrado Emérito del Tribunal Constitucional de Sudáfrica y Presidente de la Comisión Electoral Independiente de 1993

Related links:

Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas (ElNacional.com)

Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas (El Español)

¿Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas? (ElTiempo.com)