Tag: Opening Session

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“.

FULL VIDEO ON YOUTUBEhttps://youtu.be/EvcEikQ4zEU

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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”. 

FULL VIDEO ON YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/B8AALFCM-Rw

 

 

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

SUMMARY SESSION: https://youtu.be/VFRoBUU4Sn4