Events | 04.05.2021

Rule of Law Webathon

The Rule of Law is not merely the stock and trade of lawyers. It is our core value, the fulcrum of our profession and the polestar of our activity.  It is the social fabric that ensures human rights, democratic principles, economic opportunity, social development, and the fundamental freedoms we all recognise as self-evident. And with the world now facing unprecedented challenges, lawyers remain the first line of defence against efforts to undermine, circumscribe, or defeat the Rule of Law. To underscore the critical importance of that mission and the strong commitment shared by lawyers around the world, we have chosen to come together in an extraordinary way.

Three of the world’s major international lawyers associations: AIJA HRC (International Association of Young Lawyers - Human Rights Committee), UIA IROL (Union Internationale des Avocats - Institute for the Rule of Law), and ABA-SIL (American Bar Association – Section of International Law) have joined forces to launch

the first 24-hour Webathon in defence of the Rule of Law.

We are proud to present a continuous series of two-hour panel discussions that will move like the sun across the planet, spanning continents and time zones.

Each panel will address a different aspect of the challenges faced by the Rule of Law and will be hosted by a leading bar or international law association, including: the Law Society of England and Wales, the Barcelona Bar Association, Barra Mexicana de Abogados, the Inter-American Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the California Bar Association, the Law Council of Australia, LAWASIA, the NUPL (Philippines), the Society of Indian Law Firms, the Bar Association of India, the Deutscher Anwaltverein, the Warsaw Bar and the Paris Bar.

The Webathon will start on Tuesday 4 May from 16:00 CEST (15:00 GMT) to Wednesday 5 May at 16:00 CEST (15:00 GMT).  
Have a look at the programme below. Find your topics, find your time zones, but most importantly, find your passion and join your fellow lawyers across the globe in defending the Rule of Law.

How to join

The Webathon is open and free to everyone. Follow it on YouTube at 


Tuesday 4 May, 2021

4.00 pm - 6.00 pm CEST: Rule of Law Colloquium: Why Is the Rule of Law Relevant Today and What Can We Do to Protect it?

Organised by the Law Society of England and Wales

The international bar often faces challenges regarding the definition of the Rule of Law, a concept cited more often than explained, and the resulting uncertainty can impact efforts at concerted action to defend the Rule of Law.  This panel will explore the international and national texts, both binding and nonbinding, that help define the Rule of Law, along with the generally accepted principles that come into play in applying the definition. Among other things, the panel will consider whether the Rule of Law is a unitary concept or can be subject to different interpretations under different systems.  To the extent democratic values and independence of the bar and judiciary are key aspects of the Rule of Law, how can those be reconciled with political systems that are not based on democratic values or where the bar and judiciary are subject to state control? On the other hand, how can the majoritarian underpinnings of democratic values be squared with protection of the rights of minorities? Is the Rule of Law consistent only with democracy or does it have meaning under other systems as well? And how has the label been misused to justify a strictly law-and-order approach to dissent.  In short, how do we draw lines that have universal application?

Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society of England & Wales
Lizzette Robleto de Howarth, The Law Society of England and Wales

Moderator: Christoph Sicking, EBRD Deputy General Counsel and Chair of the Law Society’s International Committee


- The Rt. Hon. Justice Robin Knowles, CBE
- Sir Iain Macleod, FCDO Legal Adviser
- HHJ. Joanna Korner, CMG QC of the International Criminal Court
- Dame Fiona Woolf, British corporate lawyer, former Lord Mayor of London and former Law Society President
- Ian McDougall, Executive Vice-President and General Counsel for LexisNexis


6.00 pm - 8.00 pm CEST: Gender Equality and the Rule of Law: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Organised by Barcelona Bar Association

Issues relating to gender discrimination, unequal access to justice, and religious, political and social oppression of women are not often associated with the Rule of Law.  But they should be.  This panel will explore the role of the international bar in seeking to ensure that the Rule of Law applies with full force to women – women attorneys, women judges and women who find themselves involved in the justice system.  What roles does the Rule of Law play in advancing gender equality?  How can women leaders work to dismantle discriminatory legal frameworks while encouraging broader participation in justice systems and ensuring access to justice? What changes have we seen in recent years?

Moderator: Eugenia Gay, UIA Director for Collective Members


- Dominique Attias, President of the European Bars Federation (FBE)
- Sheila Boston, President, New York City Bar Association
- Margarethe Von Galen, President of the CCBE (Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe)
- Melissa Pang, President of the Law Society of Hong Kong
- Ewa Widlak, Consultant in Gender Equality


8.00 pm - 10.00 pm CEST: Rule of Law and Democracy: Challenges of Fragile Systems in the Americas (Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico and Others)

Organised by Inter-American Bar Association (IABA/FIA) and held in Spanish

This panel will reflect on the impact of the current pandemic on the rule of law and democracy in the Americas, from a legal and economic perspective. It will also analyse the current and post pandemic challenges of fragile systems, as well as the risks to the rule of law, political stability, and sustainable development.

Moderator: Lourdes Escaffi Venes, Secretary General, Inter-American Bar Association


- Allan Brewer-Carias, Professor Emeritus of the Central University of Venezuela
- Sergio Diaz Ricci, Principal Professor, National University of Tucuman
Mary McCord, Legal Director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Georgetown University Law Center
- Dolores “Lola” Aguinaco, MBA member, Founding Partner, Aguinaco Aja Abogados, 


10.00 pm - 12.00 am CEST (May 5): Developing Strategies and Programs to Support the Rule of Law

Organised by the American Bar Association International Law Section

The international bar has played a crucial role in helping nations, some new to democracy after the end of the Cold War, establish effective programs to protect the Rule of Law. The assistance can take many forms: assistance with drafting constitutions, laws and regulations; training judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement; advising with respect to voting systems and elections; and steps to ensure the independence of the bar and judiciary. What are the most effective means for rendering assistance? Are there pre-set toolkits that can be used? Or does every country require its own approach? Where have we seen these toolkits succeed and fail? And what are the essential prerequisites to have any chance to establish the Rule of Law where it has not existed previously?

Moderator: Joseph L. Raia, Chair ABA International Law Section

Keynote Speaker: Madeleine Albright, U.S. Former Secretary of State


- Trish Refo, President American Bar Association
- Alberto Mora, Director Rule of Law Initiative, American Bar Association
- Joseph L. Raia, Chair ABA International Law Section
- TBA, Center for Human Rights, American Bar Association


Wednesday 5 May, 2021

00.00 am - 02.00 am CEST: Attorney Discipline and the Independence of the Bar: Should Courts Play a Role?

Organised by State Bar of California

In many jurisdictions of the United States, including California, enforcement of attorney ethical codes and attorney discipline are overseen by the court. Lawyers act as “officers of the court” and ultimately answer to judges for ethical transgressions. Elsewhere in the world, such judicial oversight is viewed as inconsistent with the Rule of Law and the independence of the bar. Instead, the bar itself plays the primary role in enforcing ethical standards and disciplining its members, while judicial interference is viewed suspiciously. This panel will explore those fundamentally different concepts of the role of the bar and bar leaders, with a comparison of three jurisdictions: the state of California, France, and Mexico.


- Jerry Roth
, UIA Immediate Past President; Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson; Member, State Bar of California
- Leslie Caldwell,  Former Chief of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, Latham & Watkins 


- Sean SeLegue, Chair, Board of Trustees, State Bar of California; Partner, Arnold & Porter
- Emilio Varanini, President, California Lawyers Association; Supervising Deputy AG, California Office of the Attorney General
- Stephane Bonifassi, Former First Secretary of the Paris Bar Conference; Partner, Bonifassi Avocats
- Oscar Cruz Barney, Former President, Ilustre y Nacional Colegio de Abogados de Mexico; Partner, Cruz Abogados


02.00 am - 04.00 am CEST: Racial Discrimination, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the Rule of Law

Organised by New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties

Black Lives Matter: an Australian Perspective

30 years after the seminal report of the Australian Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody, its recommendations remain ignored along with the those in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be incarcerated at alarming rates and consequently lose their lives in prison. While the Black Lives Matter movement is not precisely analogous in the Australian context, the panel will explore similiarities, differences, the impact of BLM in Australia, and the work that remains to be done to identify and implement durable solutions.

Facilitator: Pauline Wright, President NSW Council for Civil Liberties, former President of Law Council of Australia and Law Society of NSW and solicitor at PJ Donnellan & Co, Central Coast NSW

Keynote speaker: Dr. Teela Reid, Wiradjuri and Wailwan Lawyer, first Aboriginal person to be elected on the UNSW Law Society as Vice-President (Social Justice), Founding director of the UNSW Law First Peoples Moot, Inaugural recipient of the NSW Indigenous Barristers Trust award


- Cheryl Axleby, Chair of Change the Record. Cheryl is a proud Narungga Woman who is passionate about improving the quality of life for her people. Cheryl has spent the last 40 years working within the Aboriginal community, Federal Govt and South Australian Government to improve the lives of First Nations peoples.
John McKenzie AM, NSW Legal Services Commissioner. was principal solicitor at the 1987-91 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, received his AM for significant service to the law, the legal profession, and to social justice for the indigenous community. For over 40 years John held senior positions in Legal Aid NSW, was chief legal officer for the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) from 2006-2014, and has been NSW Legal Services Commissioner since 2015
Pr. Thalia Roberts, expertise in the areas of criminal law and procedure and Indigenous people and the law, with a particular specialisation in Indigenous criminalisation and Indigenous community justice mechanisms
Barry ‘BJ’ Duncan, founding member and Board member Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council. Barry is a proud Gomeroi/Gamilaraay man from North West NSW.


04.00 am - 06.00 am CEST: Electoral Democracy and the Rule of Law

Organised by LAWASIA

Democratic elections are often cited as a key component of the Rule of Law. But elections in many parts of the world have faced enormous pressures – from efforts at voter suppression and harassment to claims of election fraud; from the influence of monetary contributions and social media to procedural challenges. In some jurisdictions, the results of elections have been disregarded altogether. What role does the Rule of Law play in this inherently political sphere? Are democratic elections a necessary component of a fair and just legal system? And what is the role of the lawyer in protecting democratic elections without becoming subject to accusations of politicization? Our panel will explore these questions in a variety of jurisdictions from Myanmar to the United States

Moderator: Yasushi Higashizawa, Co-Chair, Human Rights Section, LAWASIA; Professor, Meijigakuin University (Tokyo)

Keynote speaker: Dr. Mark West, Attorney and Anthropologist in Rule of Law Development, (SouthEast Asia)


- Christopher Leong, Immediate Past President, LAWASIA (Malaysia)
- Jeffrey Li, Associate Partner Dispute Resolution Practice Group, Lee and Li (Taiwan)
- Jerry Roth, Immediate Past President, UIA; Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson (San Francisco)


06:00 am -  08:00 am CEST: Persecution of Lawyers by State Actors: The Role of the International Bar

Organised by National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (Philippines)

All over the world, lawyers are continuously and increasingly threatened, harassed, stigmatized, denied the right to practice freely, imprisoned and even killed – simply for exercising their profession. In many countries, lawyers have even become the target of authorities. In Azerbaijan, lawyers face increasing persecution, harassment, abusive criminal prosecution, and selective and/or arbitrary disciplinary sanctions. In Turkey, this sustained persecution has included mass prosecution on trumped up criminal charges often relating to terrorism but actually based on nothing more than defense of their clients; lengthy periods of pretrial detention; and substantial prison sentences. In the Philippines, more lawyers have been killed in the five years since President Rodrigo Duterte took office than under any other government in Philippine history. In Myanmar lawyers are, at great personal risk, working to support their clients following the military coup. In each one of these cases, the international bar has tried to intervene in various capacities: observing trials; submitting amicus briefs; consulting with and advising counsel; providing expert assistance; and advocating to both local and international officials. This panel will explore whether and how international bar activity has been effective in different contexts. Have there been unintended negative consequences? What strategies should be retained and what should be changed? Are there other stakeholders who should be getting involved?

Introduction: Jacqueline R. Scott, Director General of UIA-IROL

Moderator: Atty. Czarina Musni, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Philippines

Keynote speaker: Diego García Sayán, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers


Emin Abbasov, Independent Lawyers Network, Azerbaijan
- Angelo Karlo Guillen, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Philippines
Stephen McNamara, Tharthi Myay Foundation, a Myanmar CSO
- Sinan Naipoglu, LL.M., Member of the Board of the Istanbul Bar Association, Turkey
Avi Singh, Co-Director, Protection of Lawyers, UIA-IROL.


08:00 am - 10:00 am CEST: Corporate Social Responsibility: Changing Perspectives to recognize Rule of Law and Human Rights as Essential Components of Good and Fair Business Environment

Organised by Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) & Bar Association of India

This panel will explore the tension between the pursuit of profit by business and other economic interests and that of the Rule of Law.  Are they incompatible?  Recent focus on Corporate Social Responsibility has shifted the paradigm.  How can businesses work with governments to ensure the Rule of Law, and what role does the international bar have in fostering the dialogue?

Moderator: Dr. Lalit Bhasin, President, SILF.

Keynote speaker: Hon'ble Justice Madan Lokur, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India


Mr. V Lakshmikumaran, Managing Partner, Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan
Ms Aarthi Sivanandh, Partner, J Sagar Associates
Mr. Deepak Acharya, General Counsel Wipro Limited
Ms. Gowree Gokhale, Leader – IP, Technology and Media, Nishith Desai Associates


10:00 am - 12:00 pm CEST: Access to Justice for Refugees during COVID – past, present and future

Organised by Deutscher Anwaltverein

How has COVID-19 affected access to justice for Refugees? What is the current situation regarding access to justice for refugees and migrants on the European borders after more than one year of the Covid-19 pandemic? What will be the effects of the pandemic with regard to migration movements towards Europe, and what effect will this have on access to justice for refugees? What is the state of play on the political stage? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this panel.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Annette Mutschler-Siebert, M.Jur. (Oxon)


- Mr. Phil Worthington, European Lawyers in Lesvos
Dr. Petya Androva, Senior Analyst, European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
Dr. Maria Papaioannou, Information and Analysis Officer, European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
- Mr. Ulrich Weinbrenner, Head of Department for Migration, Refugees and Return Policy at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community
Dr. Boštjan Zalar, Chairperson European Section, International Association of Migration and Refugee Judges.


12:00 pm - 02:00 pm CEST: The Role of Lawyers in Protecting the Judiciary

Organised by Warsaw Bar

Anna Wyrzykowska, Vice President of AIJA, partner at WKB Wierciński, Kwieciński, Baehr sp.j.

Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Przemyslaw Tacik, Assistant Professor, Jagiellonian University in Kraków


Dr. Hab. Maciej Tabrowski, Vice Ombudsman of Poland
Mikolaj Pietrzak, Dean of the Warsaw Bar
Martin Pradel, Deputy Director General of the UIA Institute for the Rule of Law, Chairman of the Commission on The Exercise of Rights, CNB (National French Council)


02:00 pm - 04.00 pm CEST: Justice Amid Military Conflict: Does the Rule of Law Go Out the Window in Time of War?

Organised by Paris Bar and held in French

This panel will look at jurisdictions in which military conflicts – whether civil war, border disputes, military action in response to terrorism, or others – dominate other aspects of society. How can lawyers and the international bar pursue the Rule of Law under such circumstances?  War is often seen as an emergency circumstance that justifies infringement of basic civil rights. But the independence of the judiciary and the fairness of the legal system is no less crucial in time of war. We will look in particular at the African example – Chad, Niger, etc. – to see how lawyers have pursued the Rule of Law against all odds and ask the question whether war is a “get out of jail free” card for justice systems in time of conflict.

Moderator: Stéphane de Navacelle, AIJA HRC co-Chair, Former Paris Bar Council Member

Keynote Speaker: Olivier Cousi, President of the Paris Bar


Marie O’Leary, Counsel, International Criminal Court
- Matthieu Bagard, Paris Bar Attorney, Avocats Sans Frontières France Secretary
Amélie Ferey, postdoctoral researcher (CERI), IRSEM resident;
Ghislaine Doucet, Doctor of Law, specialized in international humanitarian law, terrorism and international criminal law, Senior Legal Advisor to the ICRC Delegation in France
- Julie Grignon, Professor, Laval University Faculty of Law, Co-director of the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, Co-founder member of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Africa and the Middle East